Monday, March 14, 2011

2010 Community Involvement Award Winners Kathy Bremer and Charles Edwards

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Kathy Bremer and Charles Edwards
To get a sense for the impact that professional services firms have on any local community, all you have to do is look at the Board rosters of any major not-for-profit, institute of higher education and business association and you’ll see immediately that the leaders hail from professional services. Increasingly, Atlanta’s professional services firms are joining forces with their clients to increase their community impact. The Client Advisor Community Involvement Award recognizes one professional service firm and client pair for their joint efforts on behalf of the public good.

We were honored to have the 2010 Winners of the Community Involvement Award, Kathy Bremer, Managing Director of Boardwalk Consulting and Charles Edwards, President and CEO for the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency (ACSS) on our radio show.

ACSS resulted from the May 2010 merger of the Samaritan House of Atlanta and Atlanta Enterprise Center, two non-profits that had been helping Atlanta's homeless and near homeless achieve self sufficiency for more than 20 years. And as our guests explained, that merger resulted in their crossing paths.

As Kathy explained, her firm focuses fully on non-profit leadership, including board enrichment, executive search and non-profit strategy on a national basis. She noted, “as a non-profit, when you have the leadership piece right, you are going to be able to help more people.”

Charles took advantage of the opportunity to “brag on Kathy” in our interview, noting that her role in the success of the merger was “absolutely essential.” He explained that she served as the facilitator as the two merging organizations created the initial plan for ACSS, including accessing the target market that the organization would serve and identifying the imperatives for success of the merger----all through the lens of leadership.

Having fully defined the role, she began her search for a unique, entrepreneurial-minded visionary leader who could build something that did not previously exits. Charles Edwards was just such a leader.

As a seasoned business executive, he brought a fresh approach and a passion to fulfill the mission of ACSS. As Charles noted, “ACSS empowers homeless individuals to achieve economic self sufficiency and their ultimate potential to thrive in life.”

Charles explained that he was attracted to the role because he could see that it would allow him to make a major new impact on the Atlanta community by breaking the cycle of homelessness forever. The motto for ACSS: Inspire Hope and Make it Real—and that is exactly what he is doing.

His growth goals for the organization are ambitious—ACSS currently serves 500 individuals per year who are capable of achieving self-sufficiency. In the next 4 to 5 years, the goal is to grow that by a factor of 4X. Charles stressed the import role that professionals from firms throughout the Atlanta area will play in achieving that goal. As he noted, the professionals really get excited about figuring out how to grow the organization---and in turn—they realize personal growth as well.

Kathy and Charles stressed the need his organization and many others in Atlanta have for individuals from professional service firms. They also noted the benefits that those volunteers realize. And both stressed that you can start small----volunteer at a food bank, get on a committee----just get involved.

To learn more about how to get involved in non-profit service, to hear about the difference that you can make and the unique opportunities at ACSS, and to tap into Kathy’s expertise, we invite you to download the full interview.

Our guests:

Kathy Bremer, Managing Director, Boardwalk Consulting

Charles Edwards, CEO, Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency

Kathy Bremer has spent her entire career raising aspirations in corporate, nonprofit and community settings. She is known for her tenacious pursuit of excellence, whether on behalf of clients, colleagues or the larger community.

Kathy joined BoardWalk after eight years as Partner and Atlanta Managing Director with Porter Novelli, where she led a ten-fold growth in revenues and profits. Clients she served personally include such best-in-class organizations as the national offices of American Cancer Society and Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Aflac, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta Women’s Foundation and Georgia-Pacific.

Prior to Porter Novelli, Kathy served from 1991 to 1998 as Senior Vice President of External Relations for CARE, one of the world’s leading humanitarian organizations.

Kathy’s commitment to the nonprofit sector is pervasive. She has chaired or served on over a dozen nonprofit boards. She recently completed a four-year term as board chair of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, a thriving organization that is the statewide advocate for the nonprofit sector. She currently chairs the Board of CHRIS Kids and serves on the American Cancer Society Patient Navigator Cabinet and several nonprofit boards. Kathy is a frequent speaker on nonprofit and career issues, and a facilitator of strategic planning for numerous nonprofits.

Earlier in her career, Kathy was Senior Vice President at NW Ayer advertising. At Ayer and a prior agency, she headed accounts including Procter & Gamble, Minolta and the Ad Council. During a two-year stint in Tokyo, Kathy edited international corporate publications and wrote for Newsweek and NHK radio news. She authored several books for Japanese students of English and contributed two chapters to the book Discover Japan.

Charles R. Edwards
President and CEO

Charles R. Edwards became president and CEO of the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency (ACSS) upon its founding on May 1, 2010. Prior to ACSS, Charles served more than four years as assistant dean of corporate relations and assistant dean of development at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Before his time in academia, Charles enjoyed working four years as chief marketing officer of the 1996 Paralympic Games and more than five years as an executive search consultant. He also helped lead a successful Internet infrastructure venture as co-CEO during a one-year sabbatical from his executive search practice. Charles launched his career with IBM, where he was an executive in sales and marketing for over 15 years. Academically, Charles earned a bachelor of science in Industrial Engineering and a master in business administration from the University of Michigan, and a master of science in Industrial Engineering from Wayne State University.

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