2019 Award Winners
Each year at our Annual Meeting & Awards Celebration, we award leaders and institutions that have had an indelible impact on Downtown Atlanta. Learn more about our 2019 honorees below and celebrate with us on March 12.
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The Dan Sweat Award: Sam Williams
A champion of “doing the right thing” for Downtown Atlanta, Dan Sweat served as a past CAP President, leading the district through challenging seasons for Atlanta’s business and political communities.
The prestigious Dan Sweat Award honors his numerous achievements and celebrates those who presently emulate his best traits: iconoclastic leadership, forward-thinking public service, and humility of spirit. Each year, CAP selects a business and/or organizational leader who, like Sweat, demonstrates true leadership and advocates for “doing the right thing” for Downtown.
Sam Williams is currently serving as a professor of practice at the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. Prior to retiring in 2014, Williams led metro Atlanta’s high-profile business community 17 years as chamber president after leading the downtown Atlanta business community as president of Central Atlanta Progress. He was a partner with Portman Properties, a global architect-development company, and the first staff member for Research Atlanta. Williams has earned a national reputation for harnessing the power of business leaders to make cities thrive. He has penned a new book, The CEO as Urban Statesman (Mercer University Press, 2014), in which he uses case studies to argue that business leaders can and should contribute to their communities by using their business skills to solve public policy problems.
The Turner Community Leadership Award: Vince Smith
Established in 2003, the Turner Community Leadership award identifies and celebrates Downtown’s “unsung heroes.” Recipients embody the true meaning of quiet leadership, continually working on the community’s behalf to make Downtown a better place for all by means both large and small. While Turner award winners may not appear on the traditional radars of the corporate and organizations leadership world, their grassroots efforts make them all the more worthy of recognition.
Vince Smith currently is pastor of the Northside Park Baptist Church in Buckhead, having previously pastored churches in Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama. Most recently he served as Executive Director of Atlanta Union Mission and the Gateway Center.
From 1990 to 2016, his work focused on addressing the issue of homelessness both systemically and individually. He was instrumental in opening five centers in Atlanta that addressed the needs of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness. The successful programs he designed are still being used to help men and women, including veterans and adolescents, move from unemployment to employment, from fractured families to healed families, from addiction to wholeness, and ultimately from homelessness to independent living. His daily focus in Atlanta for more than 26 years was “everyone matters; all people have worth and value in the sight of God.”
The Marcus Downtown Economic Impact Award: Georgia Aquarium
Created in 2008 and renamed in 2016 to honor Bernie Marcus for his contributions to Downtown, this award recognizes an individual, company, or project that has stimulated revitalization efforts that strengthen and advance Downtown at large. Selection criteria include both quantitative and qualitative impacts, from increasing investment dollars to leaving a “positive mark” on the community. This award is given to the people and places we consider to be “game-changing” for Downtown’s development.
Georgia Aquarium anchors the Centennial Park District: the largest collection of tourist attractions in the state.
- Anchor attraction of the Centennial Park District: more visitors each year than any other attraction in the District.
- A generator of-out-state tourism: an estimated 1.36 million out-of-state visitors are estimated to have spent $52.25 million at the Aquarium in 2017.
- A catalyst for substantial additional investment in the area: Nearly $1.7 billion in new investment completed around Centennial Olympic Park since the Aquarium opened in 2005— with another $417 million currently under construction or in the pipeline. The Aquarium alone accounts for 29.5% of this $2.07 billion total.
- A key driver of hotel demand: The Aquarium directly supports 6,000+ hotel rooms located within walking distance, with more rooms under construction.