Happy Presidents’ Day! Or shall I say Happy President’s Day, and Happy Birthday George!
Today marks a celebratory day when Americans honor the legacies of the U.S. presidents. Established in 1800, Congress declared George Washington’s birthday a federal holiday to honor not only Washington, but Abraham Lincoln’s February birthday, as well as the lives and accomplishments of our country’s presidents.
With that in mind, I’ve decided to pay tribute to the presidents that have impacted my life and my career; in addition to their peers, their employees and their communities.
1. Roxanne Spillett : President & CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America – Although I can count on one hand how many times I crossed paths with Roxanne while interning at BGCA, she defined “Girls Rock” for me. She is the first woman to lead the organization, after volunteering and working with the organization for more than two decades. And when I did see her around the office, she never looked like the individual responsible for leading more than 50,000 employees for about 4,000 Clubs serving nearly four million youth. She was extremely genuine and what I call a phenomenal woman, not to mention an inspiration to me.
2. Dan Cathy : President & COO, Chick-fil-A, Inc. – Having the opportunity to work at this company was not only a privilege, but a pleasure. The entire staff made my temporary stay an enjoyable experience, but Dan was the icing on the cake. To say that he was a walking example of CFA’s mission is an understatement. His goal was to “have a positive influence on all who came in contact with [him].” He granted us exposure, instilled the importance of service to others and is a great example of a leader. One thing I learned was regardless of the mission Dan took the interns on, whether it was to his home for BBQ and tractor fun, a private plane ride across Georgia to a store unit or camping out with raving fans for a grand opening, always take your notebook and a pen. Every adventure had a lesson.
3. Carol Cookerly : President & Founder, Cookerly Public Relations – Cookerly is my current home and I must say, it’s a great place to be. Edgar Powell was on target when he said, “no organization is stronger than the quality of its leadership.” Marking its 20th year in business, this saying holds true for CPR. Carol keeps us on our toes and is the fuel for success in our office. During my short time here, I’ve learned that she has a giving heart, and she constantly encourages all of us to find ways to give back to help others, even in the smallest ways. She was honored as metro Atlanta’s YMCA “Volunteer of the Year” in 2004 and her philanthropy didn’t end there. When she learned that Murphy Harpst needed a new dishwasher, she rallied the staff at CPR and raised a $3,500 donation to cover the cost. She is a mentor to us all, and without her guidance, Cookerly wouldn’t be one of the leading mid-sized agencies in Atlanta.
I must say that I’ve been in great company since the day of my first internship in 2007 and have grown to take pride in leadership, service and impacting the lives of others throughout the years.
Here are just a few presidential fun facts from the History channel to put you in the holiday spirit:
• Calvin Cooledge kept the most pets, including a pygmy hippo
• William Taft gained the most weight in the office: 50 pounds in one term
• Chester Alan Arthur wore sideburns down to his lapels
• Barack Obama was the first president to write his own e-mail