At the group's annual luncheon at 103 West in Buckhead, David P. Fitzgerald, president and CEO of Fitzgerald+Co., a Buckhead-based advertising firm, took the reins as the new chair. Fitzgerald, who replaces Sonny Morris, will serve a two-year term. The coalition, a chamber-like organization of 100 CEOs, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
“I’m honored to serve as chairman of the coalition as we move into the next quarter century,” he said.
Later he joked about Buckhead forming its own government.
“We talked about annexation [removing Buckhead from Atlanta’s control], which would not work, so then we looked at [the recent incorporations of] Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Milton and Brookhaven,” Fitzgerald said. “The Buckhead Coalition announced today that Buckhead ceremoniously declared itself a sovereign state. [Coalition President] Sam [Massell] was so excited about it that he has bought a big green sign and has installed it at Brookwood Station [on Peachtree Road]. It says, ‘Welcome to the State of Buckhead, Sam Massell, governor.’”
The state bird is the construction crane, he added.
Massell was elected to another two-year term, as were vice presidents Juanita P. Baranco and Jeffrey C. Sprecher, secretary M. Maxine Hicks and treasurer Charles B. Crawford. M. Brantley Barrow, Steven L. Guy, Daniel S. Parmer, Michael M. Rogers and S. Scott Selig were named to the executive committee, where they each will serve three-year terms.
After the luncheon, Fitzgerald said he would be aided by the coalition’s leadership and staff in his new role.
“It’s a wonderful position to be in,” he said.
When asked why Fitzgerald was chosen the new chair, Massell said, “He’s been a very committed member. He’s a creative person from [his] advertising [background] and as such, he’s stepped forward several times on a pro bono [basis], with the needed ideas and materials.”
During the luncheon Morris presented Massell with a contract of sorts.
“For 25 years, Sam has been serving the Buckhead Coalition well, but every time he gives an interview, he complains about not having an employment agreement,” he said. “Today I’ve been authorized to give him an employment agreement, which covers the last 25 years.”
Massell replied, “Does it cover another 25 years?”
“We will expect another 25 years, but it’s not binding,” Morris said,
Massell responded, “I’ll stay around as long as ya’ll are willing to pay me what I’m worth.”
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed addressed the coalition before keynote speaker Jeff Foxworthy (see sidebar). Looking around the room, which included all local elected officials including all Atlanta City Council members, Reed said, “If I had known we were going to have a quorum of the council here, I would have gotten the [Falcons] stadium deal done.”