Newsroom Blog

December Commencement Speakers

Nov 13 2017


Keith T. Parker

President and Chief Executive Officer
Goodwill of North Georgia

Keith T. Parker is president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Goodwill of North Georgia. One of the largest nonprofit organizations in the southeast, Goodwill accepts, processes and sells donated goods to support its mission to put people to work. Each year the organization puts tens of thousands of North Georgia job seekers into jobs. Parker took the helm at Goodwill of North Georgia on October 16, 2017.

Prior to transitioning into his leadership role at Goodwill, Parker served on the board of directors for Goodwill of San Antonio and Goodwill of North Georgia. He was inspired by his service on both boards to extend his leadership and apply best practices from the transit industry to the nonprofit sector.

Throughout his career Parker has received numerous awards and accolades for his work as an organizational leader and transportation visionary. He won Texas CEO of the Year Awards in 2011 and 2012. He was recognized as the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) in October 2015. METRO Magazine named Parker as one of its 20 Most Influential People of the Decade. In 2016, Parker was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC). In November the same year, he was named one of eight Public Officials of the Year by Governing magazine. In August 2017, Parker was selected as one of Atlanta’s Most Admired CEOs by Atlanta Business Chronicle.

A native of Petersburg, Virginia, Parker was recently appointed to the Virginia Commonwealth University Board of Visitors by Governor Terry McAuliffe. Parker received VCU’s Alumni Star Award in 2015.

In addition to his service on the boards for Goodwill in San Antonio and North Georgia, Parker remains active and engaged in civic and charitable organizations, including service on various national and local boards of directors – such as The Eno Center for Transportation. Parker holds an MBA from the University of Richmond, as well as a Master of Urban and Regional Planning and a BA in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University.



Gerald McDowell

Executive Director
Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDS

Gerald McDowell is a solutions-oriented senior executive and consultant with more than 30 years of success across the economic development, community development, IT, technology and not-for-profit industries. Leveraging extensive experience in organizational leadership for community and technology organizations, he is a valuable asset for IT or community-focused companies requiring expert assistance with fundraising, business plan redevelopment, scaling or technology strategy. His broad areas of expertise include program management, product design, product development, project definition, project management, business development, public speaking, strategic planning, coaching / training, team building and operations management.

Throughout his executive career, McDowell has held leadership positions at organizations including the Lilburn Community Improvement District, Gwinnet Village Community Improvement District, Gwinnett Village Community Alliance.

In 2015, McDowell started as the Executive Director of the Airport West CID, which joined Airport South CID in January 2016 to become the Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs. In his role as Executive Director, McDowell manages the operations and development of both the Airport West and Airport South CIDs and is responsible for an operational budget of $2.8 million. Under McDowell’s leadership, the Aerotropolis CIDs have received more than $50 million in grants and project funding. McDowell was a member of the inaugural USDOT Leadership Academy conducted by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Additionally, McDowell was a key event speaker during the 2016 Sustainable Airport Area Seminar, focusing on issues related to workforce development, transportation and urban design. 

During his 13-year involvement in the field of community development, McDowell has led the formation of community improvement programs, including the implementation of a public safety program which successfully reduced the local crime rate by 35%. In his previous tenure as President and CEO of The JILAS Company, McDowell leveraged his entrepreneurial skills to find a software company to provide software solutions and services to church groups.

Originally from Hope Mills, N.C., McDowell graduated from DeVry University in Atlanta in 1987 with a B.S. in Computer Information Systems.  He spent more than 18 years in the IT industry, managing projects in more than 40 states and 12 countries, and he was also a small business owner for nearly five years. Additionally, McDowell served as a teacher for two years as an evening Instructor at DeKalb Tech. He is a 2008 graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development and a 2009 graduate of the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute.  McDowell and his wife, Toni, have been married for 27 years. They have two children: a daughter, Taylor, 23; and a son, Wesley, 20.



Charlotte W. Dupré

President and Chief Executive Officer
Southern Regional Medical Center

Charlotte W. Dupré has served as the Southern Regional Medical Center’s President and CEO since February 1, 2016. With a history of successfully guiding hospitals, Dupre’s career reflects her efforts to help develop or “turn-around” organizations and businesses from both a service and financial standpoint. Her continual success is underscored by her emphasis on developing effective strategies, implementing positive cash flow initiatives, and hardwiring processes to assure high quality.

Dupré holds a Master of Business Administration Degree from Tulane University, New Orleans. She graduated from Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, with a Bachelor of Science Degree and a major in Business Education and a minor in Journalism. Her ongoing education spans a broad range of fields including Sales Management, Cost Accounting and Profit-Analysis, Leadership Development and Performance, Decision making, Profit Line Profitability, Physician Development, Marketing, and Quality Improvement Training. She has extensive experience and training in the development and mentoring of high performing teams in all levels of operations and management.

Dupré is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives and the Healthcare Financial Management Association. Locally, she is a member of the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and encourages her hospital leadership to become actively involved in the community we serve.

During her tenure as CEO of Central MS Medical Center in Mississippi, Dupré was selected as one of the “Top Fifty Women in Mississippi Business” and was named as one of thirty-eight “Mississippi’s Heath Care Heroes.” She has also served as a National Presenter on Managing Product Lines for Success as part of an IBM National Conference and has received numerous accolades and recognitions both inside and out of the Healthcare industry.

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