The Chop House at The Battery’s Truist Park was the venue Monday evening for the annual James Magazine “Influential Georgians” reception. Approximately 90 attendees– ranging from various state and local elected officials to prominent business, judicial and political leaders– were welcomed by James CEO and Publisher Phil Kent.
Kent presented the “2023 Georgian of the Year Award” to Alana Shepherd, who he called “a tireless healthcare advocate who began a crusade almost 50 years ago to help found, fund and expand an Atlanta hospital now ranked as one of the nation’s top rehabilitation centers.” The Center’s CEO Sarah Morrison also paid tribute to the 92-year-old Shepherd “who still comes to the office everyday to help oversee operations.”
Kent also bestowed three “2023 Lawmaker of the Year” awards. One recipient was state Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan, the chair of the influential state Senate Rules Committee who’s tasked with ensuring each committee is prepared to address policy issues.
A second honoree was state Rep. Matt Hatchett, R-Dublin, a longtime lawmaker and chair of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee who Kent says “plays a key role in writing the state’s $58 million budget.”
A third honoree was state Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon, the state House Democratic minority leader. Kent called him a “tireless advocate in the area of protecting Georgians’ healthcare” who has “steered a course favorable to statewide economic growth.” Beverly told the audience that while he often disagreed with his Republican colleagues, “there is mutual respect and love.”
Special guests were state House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration and state Senate President Po Tempore John F. Kennedy. Efstration praised James for “getting it right” by choosing the three top General Assembly lawmakers who were honored. Kennedy also said James and its sister company InsiderAdvantage Georgia “are also very influential” and cited their “factual information that is widely read and respected” at the Capitol and statewide.
Attendees included prominent CEOs and businesspeople, various judges and lawyers, Republican and Democrat activists, high-powered lobbyists of government affairs firms, a bipartisan group of state legislators and past and present state and federal public officials including state Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald, state Labor Commissioner Bruce Thompson, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond, Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts and former U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler.
The event’s main sponsor was the Atlanta-based Hall Booth and Smith law firm. Co-sponsors were the Dentons law firm, Lexicon Strategies, Flexcare Digital Health, Brookwell Capital, Action Worldwide Chauffeured Services, the Georgia Power Company, The Shepherd Center, Genuine Parts Company, Malone Law and Choate Construction/BDR Partners/RJTR Construction and Design.