Happy National Hot Dog Day!

Happy National Hot Dog Day!

If you weren’t in The Commerce Club’s Olympic Lounge this afternoon, then you missed out on a really unique food celebration!

Ketchup, mustard, relish, onion – there’s something for everyone on this one-of-a-kind day, celebrated each year on the 23rd of July. A part of the bigger “National Hot Dog Month,” this fun holiday is celebrated around the world (Canada, Great Britain, and Australia to name a few) and by a variety of people, young and old.

Though the Club proudly offered a bountiful buffet featuring these tasty sausages with all of their fixins’, we readily admit that we couldn’t compete with Paraguay’s 668+ footer created for their ExpoFeria in July 2011. Wherever you choose to partake of this all-American treat – here or abroad – we want you to know we join you in honoring this most special of dogs!


References and for more interesting facts:



The Commerce Club, part of the already-impressive-and-still-growing ClubCorp network, is on mission to help each and every person who sets foot through the door to experience a   Warm Welcome, Magic Moment, and Fond Farewell.

Employee Partners Provide 100 Years of Combined Service to their Commerce Club Members and the Atlanta Community

Employee Partners Provide 100 Years of Combined Service to their Commerce Club Members and the Atlanta Community



“Ralph’s friendliness and excellent customer service are the reasons why my friends and I come to The Commerce Club Friday evenings. He always greets us with a hug and smile, and for years has taken exceptional care of me and my guests,” a Member recently shared.



Ralph, along with other staff of The Commerce Club, is an integral part of the success that the Club has experienced – and continues to experience – since its opening more than five decades ago.

The Commerce Club wishes to publicly recognize them for their diligence and excellence and for exemplifying to so many what true Southern Hospitality is all about.

For more information about the Warm Welcomes that The Commerce Club is known for providing, please call us at 404.222.0191.


The Atlanta Press Club and The Commerce Club Proudly Partner to Present:

A conversation with Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor, New York Times, and
Alex Taylor, Executive Vice President, Cox Enterprises

Moderated by Commerce Club Board of Directors’ Member and former President of CNN, Tom Johnson

To a luxurious 49th floor ballroom packed wall to wall with nearly 300 Commerce Club and Atlanta Press Club (APC) members, their guests, service staff, and camera crews, Margaret Sullivan, perched gingerly atop a riser, appeared slight. Her statements throughout the event, mostly about maintaining the integrity of the news, however, were anything but.

“Some people want to read about foreign affairs, and some people want to read about Jennifer Anniston’s baby,” proffered Sullivan, not mincing any words.

This alarming crescendo – from readers and viewers, pushing those who produce our daily news to give the general public more and more phenomenolism, at the risk of abandoning truth, the stuff fair journalism is supposed to be all about – is growing in volume.

Others who were present for the recent speaker luncheon event and who work in these same fields rallied loudly behind Sullivan, known for her direct focus on journalistic accuracy and integrity, and her flippant statement.

One, Maria Saporta, of the Atlanta Business Chronicle and, adamently agreed. “There is such a low barrier to entry into this world. Get it first, but first, get it right. There is a difference between solid journalism and all the clutter that is out there.”

This clutter, found in your inbox’s spam, vying for your attention on your social media, on billboards, in line at the supermarket check-out, was described by Alex Taylor as an interference with truth, something that the public has had no choice but to learn to live with.

“We are living in the Wild West where people don’t understand where [facts] come from. Google just can’t do that for you,” admitted Taylor. Not to be dismayed, however, he ultimately predicts the tide’s turn. “With time, people will want less static and more signal.”

That signal, that lone beacon that steadily shines, stubbornly resisting the darkness of media sensationalism, points the way for the Future of the News. Indeed, its core, the very DNA of good, sound media, has not changed. Its future, like its past, is about levereging accuracy, perspective, integrity, and balance to help make our world better. Public service has always been, and quietly still is, what news is all about.

An Editor for Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), which Tom Johnson, like a jolly, proud Papa, boasted has never been better, explicated the science behind it, “There’s a balance between giving the audience what they want to know and giving them what they need to know.”

No small feat to perform before an audience of consumers who, all agreed, feels a deep and growing cynicism for their sources of news.

“Different consumers want different things, and they will find it, because it’s available,” dictated Sullivan.

The problem, of course, is that all (perhaps most) of these available sources are not even remotely reliable. Reposts and retweets, which number in the millions daily, never stop to beg the question, Hey, where’d ya get your facts? They exist as much for idle amusement as they do for accuracy.

Johnson, a dinosaur in the news industry, described these faltering facts as a crisis not just for journalism but for American democracy.

“The Washington Post continues to do outstanding journalism. The New York Times and COX Enterprises – their commitment to quality is the exception in America today. [And] the type of indispensable, interrogative reporting that the Atlanta Journal Constitution is now doing is vital to the community. In my old days in Washington, there were reporters you couldn’t get away from. Atlanta has one of these,” Johnson continued, referencing Saporta. “I have tremendous admiration for her enterprise.”

But enterprise, that gritty, homegrown value which is brother to hard work, is difficult to come by these days. For one, it is seemingly far more lucrative to fabricate a story about Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, or Kimye (the not particularly clever name given to newlywed couple Kim Kardashian and Kanye West by the not particularly clever paparazzi) than it is to disseminate verifiable facts backed up by local, watchdog investigation.

Frankly, not everyone wants to be a Saporta.

For another, many news sources, online and off, simply fail to look at the bigger picture. They have yet to ask themselves what news means to society at large. With an audience nodding in accord, all panelists agreed that giving the American people transparency and encouraging them to make better decisions needs to trump revenue earning as top priority.

“The passion,” elaborated Sullivan, “around watchdog journalism has never been greater at our company. We’re committed to it.” In times of uncertainty and upheaval, commitment like this is remarkably invaluable. “With three [branches of government] there is still corruption,” she continued. “There has to be a fourth branch, one that watches the watchers.”

Without it, chaos, it seems, will ensue.

“Things get rampantly out of control without a good fourth estate,” acceded COX’s Taylor.

Even with that obligatory fourth estate in place, and, with it, its values of fairness, accuracy, and integrity, every one of the day’s speakers admitted that the industry has had to make adjustments and will continue to have to make adjustments in the years to come. It goes without saying that, as technology continues to evolve, the media and those who provide it must evolve as well.

Sullivan, who has been accused of editing while female, described this evolution, these necessary changes, as more than just a few minor growing pains.

“Vast upheavel. We’re going through a change like that right now. We really can’t get a handle on that. Print is in serious decline. I love the smell of ink, but the truth is, we’re not going back to that heyday. We’re all scrambling to find a way to thrive and survive.”

Thrive and survive is putting it mildly, considering she went on to concede that there will be no future print edition of the New York Times, if trends continue as they are.

Described as unusual, exciting, and scary, these times of uncertainty brought out a certain spunk in Sullivan and the others. Anything but disheartened, like David against their Goliath, they seemed more alive in the face of the challenge at hand.

Johnson, Sullivan, and Taylor, all of whom represent what is best in journalism today, never seemed to shy from their present reality. They openly discussed the importance of teaching news literacy in the classroom; using transparency as a new form of objectivity; utilizing new avenues of technology (Sullivan went so far as to rave about her affinity for Twitter, “I haven’t seen anything that’s as useful to me. What is going to have the impact of Twitter? I haven’t seen anything as dominant as that.”); and implementing strategic business models, those which specifically incorporate the idea of breaking news “bundles” into smaller, consumable pieces (referred to as a la carte pricing), as various means to an end that guarantees a future for the news.

Though heavy in its content, the conversation was closed rather light-heartedly with comments by Sullivan.

“I might have been oversold a little bit,” she joked. “I can’t say what the future of news is. I challenge anyone in the world to say what the future of news is. Everyone is trying something new. We have to be quick to try something new, quick to abandon things that don’t work. Now, consumer revenue has surpassed advertising revenue. This is heartening because it means something is working. We all want something that is working.”

We do, yes, want something that is working. We also want something that is promising. We have inspiring individuals such as these, our gatekeepers, to thank for providing us with both. The future of the news has never been brighter.



The Atlanta-Journal Constitution
The Coca-Cola Company
Jackson Spalding
Tom Johnson
McKenna, Long & Aldridge
Northside Hospital

The Future of the News

The Future of the News

For additional information about the Atlanta Press Club, please email

For additional information about membership at The Commerce Club, please email
Kira Hullinger at
Paul Selby at




Guess who we spotted “hanging” around the Club this week?

Terrible puns aside, The Commerce Club is more than just a place our Members diverge to when they require their business, civic, or philanthropic needs to be met.

The Club offers a somewhat surprising number of ways to fill voids in one’s social life as well. In short, it’s a great hang-out spot! Sleek “touchdown rooms”; Singles’ events; a robust calendar boasting networking events of all varieties; and an exclusive area, the Olympic Lounge, which features splendid views (yes, the gentleman featured in the photo above is dangling a full 49 stories above Atlanta’s Ellis Street), a full-service bar, and a 103″ television screen for one’s viewing pleasure (did someone say World Cup?) are just a few of the many attributes that attract the multitudes here.

Merriam-Webster defines the word social as “relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each other.”

Whether these people are your clients, your co-workers, your friends, or your family, each of us wants to stay connected. We have an insatiable desire to relate to – and to enjoy relating to –  those around us.

The Commerce Club would like to encourage each of you, socialite big or small, to utilize us for your enjoyment. We’re truly happy to fill your glass, to book your party, or to help you make that elusive connection.

Come mix and mingle with us.

You’ll find us at the corner of history and hospitality.

The Olympic Lounge, named for Atlanta, Georgia's hosting of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.

The Olympic Lounge, named for Atlanta, Georgia’s hosting of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.




“The Commerce Club is a great place for people to network and feel at home. I’ve become like family with the Members!” explains La’Kiesha Cox. “They trust and are confident that we will take care of them.

Feeling like family is just one of the many reasons that Membership Assistant Cox has so much praise to offer about her job. It will be ten years in September since she began working as a server at Atlanta’s 191 Club, which later merged with the historic Commerce Club to become the club we all know and love within the extensive ClubCorp network today. After only a year from her date of hire, Cox was promoted to the position of Membership Assistant.

“Every day is different. We are always meeting different people; there is no boring repetition,” Cox affectionately states about her current role.

The excitement still felt after nearly a decade on the job is just one of a plethora of reasons that the Membership Department is so lucky to have her. Attention to detail, a great work ethic (she just recently returned from maternity leave without missing a beat), and an organic love for the Members make this employee partner a part of the fabric of this business club.

“It’s always a good thing – knowing that our Members can depend on us,” she beams.

Our heartfelt thanks, La’Kiesha, for sincerely enjoying what you do. We love having you on our Team!

La'Kiesha Murray Cox

La’Kiesha Murray Cox





The sun-drenched beaches of South Florida have them, the LGBT communities have them, Calvin Klein and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs have them, and now, Atlanta’s most popular business club does, too! We’re talking about White Parties, of course, those ubiquitous social events that pop up in stunningly cool places all across the country, from Salt Lake City to New York City, and which require one to come outfitted in all or nearly all white.

Occuring year round, but especially during the warmer months of summer, these parties actually date back as far as the 1980s when they began as an interesting way to raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS prevention.

“White stands for purity. White is elegant, non-political, non-combative and makes people look just plain beautiful,” once remarked Frank Wager, co-founder of the annual Miami White Party, one of the first of its kind.

Commerce Club Members and guests clearly agreed, having arrived befitted, bedecked, and bedazzled in the colour de jour.

Presented by financial consultant Harvey Maclin and real estate agent Victoria Strange, joint Co-Chairs of the newly formed Social Committee, the Friday night, June 27, event was a great success – trendy without being smug, a great way for Atlanta’s business community to cut loose from their nine to fives.

“This makes me feel good that our Committee, with the help of [Member Relations employees] Roxanne Vallone, Anna Chafen and staff, we are able to make this possible. With that being said, we discussed aiming for fifty [attendees] and … we exceeded that!” oozed Strange, happy that the event was such a hit with all who came out to partake of the festivities.

It didn’t hurt that the White Party was earmarked well ahead of time for success. A 49th floor view, lustrous decorations, heavy hors d’oeuvres, and music provided by NYC’s DJ Doug Blaze (“Spinning all the Best”), made for a night to be remembered well into the months to come.

Ironically, the highlight of the whole evening was of the impulse variety, such that it could not have been imagined, much less planned, any better by organizers. Guests of a formal private event next door, young South African visitors being recognized for their leadership abilities, upon hearing the trendy music, requested to leave their own party – at first shyly and then with a charming boldness – to venture into the White Party and out onto its dance floor! At least 20 young people, future leaders of their country, got to experience modish American culture first-hand.

Enticing, yes, but also fashionable and sophisticated; the night, au corant with the times, was exactly what The Commerce Club had hoped for from its Social Committee.



Commerce Society for Young Executives’ (CSYE) Chair-Elect Derin Dickerson, of Alston & Bird, one of America’s best corporate law firms, poses with United Way affiliate and new Club Member Aisha Harris, and Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Fabiola Charles, who also serves on the CSYE Board as Community Engagement Co-Chair.

This active group of Under 40s is a vital part of the “Clubs within a Club” infrastructure, which exists to forge connections within The Commerce Club, facilitating easier social and networking opportunities at a private club which boasts well over a thousand Members.


What are your thoughts about networking?

With whom would you most want to mingle at a social function geared toward young executives under age 40?


“Why are you here?” considered P.J. Zonsius, a Commercial Account Executive of Business and Government markets for Gas South and Co-chair of United Way’s Young Professional Leaders (YPL).

Speaking to a full house of more than 80 young executives at The Commerce Club, on a balmy Tuesday evening, June 24, 2014, the question was, of course, rhetorical. “You care about this city,” Zonsius continued, “and you have the opportunity to make a difference, either through United Way or The Commerce Club.”

For many, it was less a matter of “or” and more a matter of “both,” as many of the young executives being addressed by Zonsius serve as active Members of the Club, with its under-age-40 group, the Commerce Society for Young Executives (CSYE), as well as with YPL, created in 2009 for United Way’s philanthropic donors also under age 40. Regardless of which committee they were representing during the reception, all joined in the celebration of the incoming – and recognition of the outgoing – YPL Board for their annual Service Social. The program, coordinated by Fabiola Charles, Make a Wish Foundation, and Jamar Jeffers, The Lovett School, serving as Community Engagement Co-Chairs of the CSYE, was well supported and received by all.

“United Way is near and dear to my heart,” testified Kimberly Poma, Chair, CSYE. Decked out in a red and white ensemble perfectly befitting her role as Global Ambassador for The Coca-Cola Company, Poma elaborated, “Our mission is to create business opportunities and leadership opportunities, and [we are] delighted to be at The Commerce Club, a sustainable club committed to engaging young professionals such as ourselves.”

After issuing these warm words of welcome, Poma passed the evening’s remarks on to the Club’s newest Director, Paul Selby, formerly of the Georgia Aquarium, who enthusiastically echoed these sentiments and shared many of the other perks that come with membership at a private business and civic club.

“The Commerce Club is here to help create a space to develop leaders. Our desire is to create the space for you to network and develop relationships, both personally and professionally,” affirmed Selby.

Attendees were encouraged to utilize their proximity to the Club not only to strengthen their careers but also to try to glean all that they can from those powerful CEOs who serve on its Board and who share their same philanthropic mindsets. Philanthropy, this etymological love of humanity, was highlighted, repeatedly, by all who spoke throughout the night.

Circling back to the original statements made, YPL Co-Chair Quinn Green, Associate Broker, HOUSE CONNECT, continued along this charitable path, “In this room are many of the current and future leaders of our city. We take this very seriously. We serve together.”

Expounding on these thoughts of servanthood, Green went on to state that all young people, whether they actively serve on “official” Boards and committees within the city or simply have a keen interest in their immediate surroundings or neighborhood, need to aim for a fulfilling work/life balance. A key component to obtaining that, and vital to the successful equation, is the ability to give back to one’s community.

With rounds of applause accompanied by rousing enthusiasm, the evening’s young professional leaders continued to encourage one another and build one another up to serve these communities and the city at large.

“Thank you for being here,” closed Green, “Thank you for positioning yourself to be a future leader of United Way and Atlanta.”

YPL and CS 2014

The Commerce Club, Atlanta, GA, joins United Way in welcoming the following individuals to its new YPL Board:

Teanna Alexis, AT&T
Natosha Briscoe, Wells Fargo
Dawn Churi, Sequoia Golf
Cory Croft, Accenture
Kyle Healy, Alston & Bird, LLP
Brian House, Newell Rubbermaid
Karl Jennings, Georgia State University
Melanie Jordan, Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Beth Keller, Chris Kids
Terrell Monroe, Communities in Schools of Atlanta
Michael Noneeman, McKesson



Along with the rest of Atlanta, The Commerce Club is spending this week celebrating what Mayor Kasim Reed is currently calling one of the most important days in the life of the city. The Center for Civil and Human Rights opened yesterday, June 23, 2014, to tears of joy and celebration alike.

Pictured here, in the Center’s lobby, are Sharmeen Hawkins, Chair, Women in Leadership Committee, and myself, Anna Chafen, Member Relations. We were thrilled to get a sneak peek of the museum last week, before it opened to the general public. Check out the exotic, one-of-a-kind artwork behind us!

If you are in the Atlanta area this summer, feel free to broaden your horizons by visiting both the elegant Commerce Club and the 42,000 square foot museum, located only a few blocks from one another, to see what each is all about!

The Commerce Club
191 Peachtree Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30303
Business attire, please.

The Center for Civil and Human Rights
100 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd.
Atlanta, GA 30313
Admission for adults is $15. Students and Seniors are $13. Children ages 3-12 are $10.


“Let our history be clear.” With these emphatic words, Deborah Richardson, Executive Vice President for the new National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the first institution to ever “present the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement in the context of today’s human rights issues,” launched into her telling of that rich history.

Richardson, a petite African-American woman in her 60s, whose stature and quiet demeanor do little justice to the authority her presence – one which makes the listener sit up a little taller, recall manners perhaps not exercised since childhood – commands. She is at once both kind and authoritative, the rare kind of woman whom you believe could perhaps be incapable of telling a lie. Keen and observant, while simultaneously languid and at ease, equally with herself as with large audiences, Richardson gives one the feeling that she has probably seen and heard it all and that there is not much that remains to impress her with these days.

Of course, as the adage goes, there is an exception to every rule, and, for Richardson at least, the Center has become the great exception.

Dark eyes sparkling, Richardson comes alive, is happy to animatedly expound upon the ardent enthusiasm she feels for her beloved Center, set to open Tuesday, June 23, 2014, becoming an official part of her even more cherished city.

“I’m from Atlanta. I grew up here. When I was a little girl, my pediatricians were black, my teachers were black. Atlanta has always had a strong black middle class. It was a normalized thing for us. Here, professional business leaders, black and white, have historically come together. The business community has always been a leader.”

This innate “leader” mentality within the city’s business community, the rich legacy of being, as businessman and two-term Mayor Ivan Allen once asserted, “the city too busy to hate” is, in part, the precise reason why Atlanta, Georgia was selected to house the soon-to-be-opened Center.

“What better place than right where the Civil Rights movement started?” observed Development and Membership Associate for the Center, Marques Evans, a fresh-out-of-college, enthusiastic type. “Its location Downtown, next to the World of Coke, the Georgia Aquarium, is perfect.”

Indeed. Its prime real estate on Pemberton Place, Downtown Atlanta, smacks of success, as swells of tourists are set to surge, along with summer’s brutal heat, through Atlanta in the coming months, anxious to view not just the home of the Braves and Coca-Cola but many of the growing metropolis’ more recent additions: The National College Football Hall of Fame; SkyView Atlanta, a glossy white, nearly-twenty-stories-tall Ferris wheel that emanates a purple and blue haze of lights after sundown; The Atlanta StreetCar Project; and, still in the works, the highly-anticipated dome set to house the Atlanta Falcons and their millions of fans.

“The story of what makes Atlanta unique has not fully been told,” continues Richardson, “We’re very different from a Memphis or a Birmingham. When Dr. King won the Nobel Peace Prize, it was good for business. City leaders had to come together and say, we can’t not honor him.”

Along with unashamedly choosing to publicly honor King and thereby pushing themselves to the forefront of the American Civil Rights Movement, Atlanta maintained – and still maintains – its position as a champion of progress with a vivid, magnified eagerness to embrace change.

“Atlanta is a laboratory. People can see everything happening here,” expounded Richardson.

And what they are seeing are all of those changes – mind-blowing, life-altering changes. According to the staff, who each speak of their place of employment as an affectionate parent might speak about a pet child, visitors to the National Center for Civil & Human Rights will be encouraged to not only view the changes, but to accept it, to exemplify it, ultimately, to be it.

This idea of being positive change in the world, being global citizens on an ever-shrinking planet, was a resounding theme, talked about at great length, during and after The Commerce Club’s June 4 reception hosting Richardson and Evans – along with a host of other employees from the Center – each brimming with an eagerness to tout its merits, holding these out to the potential visitor as some great, found, shiny thing.

Ever eloquent, Richardson composed it thus, “The information people will receive at the Center will lead to their inspiration. Whether they can give sixty minutes or sixty days, they should want to change the world. People should feel inspired when they leave. We’re promoting positive change in the world. The difference that a group of committed citizens can make. That’s what it’s about. Make the change.”

Others on staff, like strong canyon walls bracing clear paths cut and then proven by time, clearly echoed this electrifying sentiment.

“Being from Atlanta and knowing what I know, our unique history. I want to do something in life where you have a legacy and make a significant and positive impact,” Development Manager Beth Haynes, a smiling, soft-spoken blonde, added.

Riding atop all of these waves of enthusiasm, the ever-brightening sun before him, sits President and CEO Doug Shipman. White, married to an Indian woman (they are parents to one child with another on the way), Shipman practices daily the diversity he preaches. And, like some sort of mad Rumpelstiltskin, everything he touches, marriage and Center included, seems to turns to gold. To the unassuming observer, Shipman  oozes with this earnest hopefulness, only wanting what is best for the city, best for all of the world’s cities, really.

“All great cities have [stories] that multiple cities talk about. New Orleans has jazz, Creole culture. Well, Civil and Human Rights is Atlanta’s story. It is the most powerful story we have to offer the world.”

The Center is set to do this in a number of ways, each of them breathtakingly unique. Along with the exclusive King Papers Collection, brought from HBCU’s Morehouse College, there will be ever-changing galleries acting as conversation-starters, providing a fresh forum in which to discuss those hidden conversations which, at best, are being spoken in hushed, worrisome tones, and, at worst, are not being spoken.

One of these that stands out most, an itch that deserves to be scratched, is the disability rights movement. Shipman, charged and exhibiting enough fervor to single-handedly carry the weight of the world on his back if need be, goes on to say that it is this “ignore it until it’s gone” logic that makes disability rights, like a loyal, albeit abandoned, Golden Retriever, one of his personal favorites. “It’s an issue that’s huge, but doesn’t really have a home.”

Until now.

With the Center set to open in one week, Doug Shipman and the entire staff, flanked by all of Atlanta and the diversity it offers, hope to welcome thousands into their open, nonjudgmental arms. This will be the legacy that can help us shape the America we know, the ever-changing America we love, in the 21st century.



The New York Times listed The National Center for Civil and Human Rights as one of its “52 Places to go in 2014.” Visit to find out how.

You can also email for more information or to purchase a personalized tile at the Center or to make a donation.

To learn more about The Commerce Club, its relevance to the business community in Atlanta, and programming such as this, please visit or call 404.222.0191.