Georgia Historical Society Names New Board Leadership

Staff Report

Tuesday, June 21st, 2022

The Georgia Historical Society (GHS) has announced that Shan Cooper (Atlanta) and David Abney (Atlanta) have been elected to serve as Board Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, of the GHS Board of Curators. GHS also announced that Dan Cathy (Atlanta), Beatriz Perez (Atlanta), Venessa Harrison (Atlanta), and Jeff Kole (Savannah) have been elected to serve as board members. The new leadership was elected at the Annual Meeting of the Board of Curators held in Savannah.

The meeting was led by Thomas M. Holder, Chairman and CEO of Holder Construction Company, who presided over his final meeting as Chairman. Shan Cooper, who recently stepped down as executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress to launch a new company called Journey Forward Strategies, now begins her two-year tenure as Board Chair.

“The level of influence and visibility enjoyed by any non-profit institution is directly tied to the quality and reputation of its board,” said Dr. W. Todd Groce, President and CEO of the Georgia Historical Society. “Shan, David, and these outstanding new additions further strengthen our leadership team, allowing us to fulfill our teaching and research mission and enhance our reputation as the trusted source for history in this state.”

Dan Cathy is the chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc., one of America’s largest family-owned businesses. Before becoming Chairman and CEO, Cathy was President and Chief Operating Officer for 12 years. His previous roles include Senior Director of Operations, Vice President of Operations, and Executive Vice President. Under his leadership, Chick-fil-A was named the top fast-food restaurant for customer service by Newsweek in 2019 and received multiple honors in QSR’s 2019 Reader’s Choice Awards, including “The Most Respected Quick-Service Brand” and “Best Brand for Overall Experience.”

Active in the Atlanta community, Cathy serves on the boards of the Georgia Aquarium, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Atlanta Committee for Progress, Eagle Ranch, and Heritage Preparatory School. He is a past chairman of The Carter Center’s Board of Councilors.

Beatriz “Bea” Perez is Senior Vice President and Chief Communications, Sustainability, and Strategic Partnerships Officer for The Coca-Cola Company. Perez oversees a diverse portfolio and manages networked teams that lead and support the company’s business objectives. This includes commitments to global leadership in the areas of environmental, social, and governance (ESG). Perez leads global external and internal communications, including digital media strategy for company-owned channels, global brand public relations, financial communications, and leadership communications.

Perez serves on various boards, including Chair of The Coca-Cola Foundation, the company's global philanthropic arm, the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. She is a public director for Primerica and W.W. Grainger, Inc

Venessa Harrison is the President of AT&T's Southeast Coastal Region. She is responsible for developing the overall strategic direction of AT&T’s public policy, economic development, and community engagement activities across the states of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

Harrison serves on the boards of North Carolina A&T State University, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Research Alliance, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Committee for Progress, the Atlanta Police Foundation, Agnes Scott College, and the Rotary Club of Atlanta.

Jeff Kole is the President of Kole Investment Company, a Savannah-based real estate investment and management company. A Savannah native, Kole is the current Board Chairman of East Savannah United, a nonprofit focused on the holistic revitalization of several east Savannah neighborhoods, and he is a board member of the Savannah Music Festival and Parent University. He is a past Board Chairman of United Way of the Coastal Empire, Senior Citizens Inc., the Jewish Educational Alliance (JEA), Savannah Apartment Association, and Georgia Apartment Association. 

The new members of the GHS Board of Curators will serve a three-year term beginning July 1, 2022.
For more information on the Board of Curators of the Georgia Historical Society please contact Keith Strigaro at 912-651-2125, ext. 153 or by email at