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Prime Time Politics - Experts

Mark Butler
Georgia Labor Commissioner

Mark Butler became Georgia's ninth Commissioner of Labor on January 10,2011.
A native of Carrollton, Commissioner Butler had served the previous eight years in the Georgia General Assembly, representing House District 18, comprised of Carroll and Haralson counties. During that time, he served as the Chairman of the House Appropriations Human Resources Sub-Committee, which oversees all operations of the budget for several of the largest state agencies, including the Departments of Labor, Human Services, and Behavioral Health. A fiscal conservative, Commissioner Butler believes that his legislative appropriations experience with the Department of Labor gives him valuable insight necessary to properly administer the department's $450 million annual budget in the best interests of all Georgians. While in the House of Representatives, Butler also served as vice-chair of the Industrial Relations Committee, as well as a member of the committees for Governmental Affairs and Health and Human Resources. Throughout his legislative career, Butler worked closely with other members to limit government spending, maximize taxpayers' dollars, and increase efficiency of state departments. He supported legislation that reduces taxes, improves quality of life, and encourages economic growth, including the elimination of the state property tax, mental health Ombudsman, and the Juvenile Code Rewrite Commission. H~ was co-chair of the Human Resources Task force, which commanded the largest restructuring of Georgia state government in 30 years. Commissioner Butler has worked with his family's small business in Carrolton as a real estate appraiser for over 20 years and is committed to promoting business growth and development across Georgia. Commissioner Butler graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Public Administration. He is a member of his local Kiwanis Club and the Carroll and Haralson County Chambers of Commerce. He has two children: a daughter, Sydney, and son, Blake. The Butler family attends Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton.

Tim Callahan

Tim Callahan is the Public Relations and Membership Director of the 81,000 member Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), an independent, non-union organization for professional educators that is the largest in the state and one of the largest in the nation. His career in education began in upstate New York where he taught high school English and Journalism for ten years and also worked for five years as a reporter for a daily newspaper. Moving to Florida in 1980, he served for three years as a curriculum specialist in the Florida Department of Education. From 1983-1986 he was an aide and press secretary to Florida's Commissioner of Education, Ralph Turlington. He also served during this period as Public Information Officer and spokesman for the Florida Department of Education. In 1987 he was named Director of Public Affairs for the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) in Washington D.C. where he served for four years, securing national media attention for the research, reports and education positions of that association. After leaving NASBE, Tim served for two years as Communications Director for the Aspen Institute, a "think tank" based in Washington D.C. and Aspen, Colorado. In his work at PAGE, which he joined in 1993, Tim supervises an in-field staff of thirteen Membership Services Representatives and an office staff of eight membership department and communications specialists. During his tenure as Membership Director the organization has grown from 27,000 members to its current 81,000 members.

David Cook
Georgia Department of Community Health

Governor Deal appointed David A. Cook to serve as Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health in January 2011. He currently leads the $12 billion agency responsible for health care purchasing, planning and regulation for Georgia, and improving the health outcomes of its citizens. From 2001 to 2010 Cook served as the executive director and chief executive officer with the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG). During that time he restructured the organization, successfully streamlined its operations and applied increased resources to member services. Prior to this role, Cook was MAG’s General Counsel and Director of Advocacy. Cook’s career spans the legal and legislative arena, both at the state and federal levels. His affiliation with the Georgia General Assembly began in 1976, when he served as the Reading Clerk for the Georgia State Senate. In 1984, after completing law school, Cook served as a top aide to State Senator Nathan Deal who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee and as President pro Tempore of the Georgia Senate. Cook continued to serve Deal in Washington, D.C. 1992-1995 as Deal’s Chief of Staff when Deal was elected to Congress in 1992. Mr. Cook was the managing partner in the law firm of McGuire, Cook, & Martin, P.C. from 1983 to 1992 specializing in corporate law and contract litigation. He was also a Clinical Professor at the University of Georgia School of Law from 1982 to 1983 and taught Constitutional Law at Georgia Southern University. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Physician Advocacy Institute, the American Medical Association’s Advocacy Resource Center (ARC) and the Georgia Medical Political Action Committee (GAMPAC). He has served as President of the American Society of Medical Association Counsel and received the American Medical Association’s Meritorious Achievement Award in 2009.

Stephanie Davis
Georgia Women for a Change

Stephanie Davis is the executive director of Georgia Women for a Change, a non-profit public policy institute with a gender lens, that represents Georgia activists on issues across a spectrum of issues including health care, economic justice and challenging violence against women and girls. Georgia Women has introduced legislation to combat human trafficking and institute flexible sick leave policy. Davis served as the first Policy Advisor on Women’s Issues to Mayor Shirley Franklin where she coordinated the “Dear John” campaign to end child prostitution in Atlanta. As the first director of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation where she served for 11 years, Davis was responsible for raising several million dollars, establishing an endowment and positioning the Foundation to be the fastest growing women’s fund in the country. Davis currently serves on the Board of Synchronicity Theatre and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She is a graduate of Skidmore College and received one of the country’s first Masters in women’s studies from Goddard College.

Cheryl DeLuca-Johnson
Street GRACE

Cheryl DeLuca-Johnson is the Executive Director of Street GRACE, an alliance of churches dedicated to the eradication of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Atlanta. As such, she is involved in building community awareness, mobilizing churches to the cause, and supporting those non-profits giving direct aid to victimized and at-risk children. Cheryl is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a background specializing in women’s issues, specifically women and addiction. Prior to Street GRACE Cheryl held several positions at Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences and was instrumental in the changes that renovated their women’s program. She has also served on Drug and Alcohol Advisory boards, worked with World Hope International on women’s issues in Sri Lanka, and volunteered therapeutic services with Red Cross.

Steve Dolinger
Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Steve Dolinger is President of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, an Atlanta based non-profit organization dedicated to improving public schools across Georgia through research, advocacy and communication. He brings over 40 years of experience in education and non-profit leadership. Dr. Dolinger came to the Partnership from the position of Superintendent of Schools in Fulton County, Georgia. During his seven-year tenure with Fulton County, Money Magazine rated the school system as one of the top school systems in the nation. Dr. Dolinger introduced many changes in the Fulton County school system based on the principles and practices of business management and he received national recognition for many of these reforms, including from the National School Board Association and Harvard University. In 2001 he was named Georgia School Superintendent of the Year. Reflecting his personal and professional commitment to education, Dr. Dolinger currently serves on numerous boards, including Voices for Georgia’s Children, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, and the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement. In addition, he has been appointed to the President’s Roundtable of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the cabinet of the Georgia Children’s Health Alliance, and the education and health advisory committee for The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Dr. Dolinger spent 26 years in Fairfax, Virginia where he served in various administrative and teaching positions. He received an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University, a master’s degree from George Mason University and a doctorate from Vanderbilt University. He and his wife, Jane, live in Atlanta and have two sons and five grandchildren.

Alan Essig
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

Alan currently serves as Executive Director with the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (GBPI). The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that engages in research and education on the fiscal and economic health of the state of Georgia. Previously he served as a Senior Research Associate with the Fiscal Research Center of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University where he undertook policy research in regards to state budget policy and process, social welfare issues, and taxes. Alan also served as the Deputy Policy Director to the Governor. He advised the Governor and helped formulate policy in the areas of health and human services including child welfare, public health, mental health and developmental disabilities, aging and Medicaid. Alan has also worked as Committee Aide for the Georgia State Senate and Georgia House of Representatives Appropriations Committees, Assistant Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Human Resources, Director of the Georgia State Senate Research Office, Deputy Director of the Budgetary Responsibility Oversight Committee, and as a legislative budget analyst for the New York State Senate Finance Committee.

Curtis Foltz
Georgia Ports Authority

Curtis J. Foltz is the Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), a 1,000- person strong state port authority that owns and operates strategic gateways serving the U.S. Southeast. Following five years as Chief Operating Officer for the Authority, Foltz took the helm of the GPA on January 1, 2010. As Executive Director, Foltz oversees all port activity involving the deepwater ports of Savannah and Brunswick, as well as inland terminal operations in Bainbridge and Columbus. Directing one of Georgia’s largest economic engines, he administers a $220 million annual budget. As the GPA’s Chief Operating Officer from 2004 to 2009, Foltz provided direction for day-to-day operating activities with responsibility to help ensure long-term growth in revenue, profitability, and market share. Prior to joining the GPA, Foltz was the Vice President of Operations for CSX World Terminals in Charlotte, N.C., where he was responsible for all business unit accountability throughout North & South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Australia and Europe. He was also the Vice President and General Manager of the Americas, as well as General Manager of Terminal Management Resources for CSX World Terminals. During his 13 years at Sea-Land Service, Inc., Foltz held several different positions, including Manager of Port Operations in Tacoma, Wash.; Manager of Port Operations in Charleston, S.C.; Manager of Port Operations in New Orleans, Louisiana; Manager of Operations and Rolling Stock for the Americas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Liberty Corners, N.Y., and held various supervisory positions in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Ralph Hudgens
Georgia Insurance Commissioner

Ralph Hudgens was elected as Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner on November 2, 2010. In addition to being Insurance Commissioner, Hudgens is also the Safety Fire Commissioner, Industrial Loan Commissioner, and Comptroller General. His duties include regulating approximately 1,600 insurance companies, licensing 137,000 insurance agents, and regulating over 1,000 industrial loan offices (companies that make loans of $3,000 or less). As Safety Fire Commissioner, Hudgens appoints the State Fire Marshal, oversees the state arson unit, regulates explosive and hazardous materials, and is responsible for the inspection of public buildings for compliance with the state fire code. After nearly two decades working in the private sector, Hudgens started Quality Propane, Inc. which he sold in 1987. Today, he owns and operates several successful businesses, and understands first-hand how insurance premiums impact companies of all sizes. Hudgens’ public service began with an appointment in the first Bush administration. He went on to be elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1996 where he served until his election to the State Senate in 2002. Because of his service as Chairman of the Insurance and Labor Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Banking and Financial Institution, Hudgens is one of the state's foremost experts on insurance, business regulation, and consumer issues.

David Jernigan
KIPP Metro Atlanta

David Jernigan is the Executive Director for KIPP Metro Atlanta, overseeing the network of KIPP schools in metro Atlanta. Prior to assuming the role of Executive Director, he was the Founding Principal of KIPP WAYS (West Atlanta Young Scholars) Academy from 2003 to 2008. Under his leadership, KIPP WAYS Academy was consistently one of Atlanta’s highest performing middle schools, and in 2008 it was named the #1 “No Excuses School” in Georgia by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation. David came to Atlanta in 2000 through the Teach For America program, where he taught at M. Agnes Jones Elementary School in the West End of Atlanta. David is a Morehead Scholar and graduate of the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School and is the recipient of the 2003 Outstanding Young Alumni Award. He received his teaching certification through Georgia State University's Urban Alternative Teacher Certification Program and his Masters in Educational Administration from National Louis University in Chicago. In 2006, David was nominated and selected for LEAD Atlanta, a program for emerging young leaders in the metro Atlanta area. In 2007, he was honored with one of 10 Outstanding Atlanta awards. David was appointed in 2008 to the State Charter Advisory Committee for Georgia, and he is also a member of the Georgia Charter Schools Association Advocacy Committee. He is passionate about improving the educational opportunities for students in Atlanta and looks forward to broadening the scope of KIPP’s impact in Atlanta by helping to open additional KIPP schools in the near future.

Phil Kent
Americans for Immigration Control

Philip A. "Phil" Kent is the president of Phil Kent Consulting Inc. and is an Atlanta, Ga.-based author, columnist and media commentator. Kent is also the national spokesman for Americans for Immigration Control. He is a regular panelist on Fox5 Atlanta WAGA-TV’s Sunday public affairs program “The Georgia Gang.” His first book, The Dark Side of Liberalism: Unchaining the Truth, was released in 2003 and his second book Foundations of Betrayal was released in 2007. A veteran award-winning journalist and one-time board member of the Georgia Press Association, Phil was an editorial writer, editorial page editor, and political columnist for The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle for over 25 years. In the early 1980s, Phil served in Washington, D.C., as press secretary and public affairs advisor to the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.). A graduate of the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady School of Journalism, he also is a past president of the Atlanta-based Southeastern Legal Foundation. Phil was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant, military police, and served on active duty at Fort Gordon, Ga. Current and past clients of his media/communications/marketing company range from large corporations to nationwide political and educational organizations.
Kent is also a member of the, Atlanta Press Club, the Georgia Press Association, and the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

Andrea Malloy
Coastal Conservation League

Andrea Malloy joined the Coastal Conservation League in early 2007 and has been serving as the Interim Director of the South Coast office since August of 2010. Ms. Malloy is active in conservation and growth management in Jasper and Beaufort Counties. Rural Jasper County, which is bordered by the Savannah River has been a primary area of focus. Ms. Malloy’s educational experience includes a B.A. from Fordham University in New York and an M.S. in Nonprofit Management from the New School University. She is originally from Jacksonville, Florida but moved to New York for college and stayed there for 18 years working in the nonprofit field -- with such groundbreaking nonprofits as New York Cares and Partnerships for Parks.

Kaffie McCullough
Juvenile Justice Fund

Kaffie McCullough has spent her career helping better the lives of youth. As campaign director for the Juvenile Justice Fund’s A Future. Not A Past., McCullough oversees the statewide campaign to stop the prostitution of children in Georgia. Before joining the campaign, McCullough served as project director for a federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant that supported the establishment of a model program for the treatment of commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) victims in Fulton County and the City of Atlanta. As a speaker, she has lent her insight and expertise in CSE, victim services and placement to a multitude of groups. McCullough is also the founder and past executive director of GOAL, a nonprofit organization that provides programming for middle school girls. During the course of her leadership at GOAL, more than 1,000 middle school girls received support for the development of their own sense of competence and confidence. Earlier in her career, McCullough was a psychotherapist in private practice for 10 years, as well as a high school teacher and business owner. Dedicated to the Atlanta community, McCullough has served on boards for various nonprofits, always finding ways to express for her passion for bettering youths lives. In 2006, McCullough was honored for her commitment to bettering the lives of girls and women with the Wells College Distinguished Alumnae Award. In 2009, McCullough received Mercer University’s Sex Trafficking Opposition Project (STOP) Conference’s Advocacy Awards, which honor Georgians working to stop the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Kelly McCutchen
Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Kelly McCutchen is president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. He is a native of Ellijay, Georgia, and a graduate of Georgia Tech. He was Assistant Vice President in the Trust Department of Trust Company Bank in Atlanta before joining the Foundation in 1993. Kelly writes on education, tax, health care and economic policy. At the Foundation, he has helped create the Civic Renewal Project that highlights the work of outstanding community-based organizations, the "No Excuses" program to recognize and study high achieving, high poverty public schools, and award-winning statewide report cards on education, crime and taxes. He has served on the boards of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association and Leadership Georgia and was a founder of Tech High, a math, science and technology-focused public charter school in Atlanta. He currently serves on the board of the Conservative Policy Leadership Institute, Tech High Foundation and the Healthcare Institute for Neuro-Recovery and Innovation Foundation.

Shelley Nickel
Gordon College

Shelley C. Nickel, interim president of Gordon College, began her tenure on July 1, 2010. She will serve in this capacity until a permanent president has been selected. Nickel has served the State of Georgia for 20 years in various positions. Most recently, Nickel served as associate vice chancellor for Planning and Implementation for the Board of Regents. In that position she was responsible for executing the board's strategic plan and implementing system-wide projects. She also provided leadership and direction to USG institutions on how to move strategic initiatives forward with federal recovery act funds and provided leadership for the development of the proposed research park at Fort McPherson. From 2005 to 2007, she was director of the Governor's Office of Planning and Budget where she had overall responsibility for the State of Georgia's $20.1 billion budget. A native of Pennsylvania, she earned a master's degree in Public Administration and a bachelor of science in Community Development, both from Penn State University. Nickel and her husband Martin have three children and one grandchild.

Bill Sapp
Southern Environmental Law Center

Bill Sapp is a Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Atlanta Office. Mr. Sapp graduated from Harvard Law School in 1990. He began his legal career in the Honors Program for the Army Corps of Engineers Headquarters Office in Washington, D.C. During his four-year tenure with the Corps, Bill completed an LL.M. (with highest honors) in environmental law at Georgia Washington University. Bill then accepted a federal clerkship with Judge B. Avant Edenfield in Savannah, Georgia. When his clerkship ended in 1995, he joined Alston & Bird’s environmental practice group. In 2001 he became the lead wetlands attorney for Region 4 of the Environmental Protection Agency in Atlanta. While at the EPA, he served as an adjunct professor at the Emory University Law School. In 2006, Bill became a Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is a non-profit, public-interest law firm devoted to protecting the environment and special places in the South. As a result of his twenty years of experience practicing environmental law in the federal government, private sector, and non-profit world, Bill has become recognized as a leader in the field of wetlands law. In addition to speaking on the topic in national and regional conferences, he has published several influential articles in this field. He is currently focusing his work on protecting the Georgia coast.

Julianne Thompson
Georgia Tea Party Patriots

Julianne Thompson is State Coordinator of Georgia Tea Party Party Patriots and is one of the organizers of the Atlanta Tea Party. Tea Party Patriots is the oldest and largest Tea Party organization in the world with over 3,000 local Tea Parties in all 50 states, and throughout Europe and Asia. She is former Press Secretary of the Georgia Republican Party, and served as a Legislative Aide in the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on the Constitution during the historic Contract With America. She is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Liberty University and served as a television reporter in Virginia Beach while studying for her Master's Degree at Regent University School of Broadcast Journalism. A member of Who's Who Among Outstanding Young Women in America, she has recieved several Executive appointment including: Gwinnett County Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, and was appointed by Governor Perdue to the State Children's Trust Fund Commission. She is a frequent guest on local and national news programs and has appeared on the Glenn Beck Show and Your World with Neil Cavuto. Julianne lives in Suwanee with her husband, Jason and their 2 young children.

Rick Thompson
R. Thompson and Associates

Rick Thompson has 17 years of experience in overseeing ethics and governmental compliance as it relates to campaign finance, personal financial disclosure by candidates, and lobbying. Rick has been an active member in the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL) since the 1990’s and is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and a former member of the National White Collar Crime Center. Rick was instrumental in the development and implementation of an electronic campaign finance system in the state of Missouri, and more recently the development and execution of the nationally recognized campaign finance, personal financial and lobbyist electronic filing system in the state of Georgia. Rick currently serves on the editorial board of the academic journal, Public Integrity, which is the foremost journal on ethics and leadership in all aspects of modern public service. Rick also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Phoenix for courses including Ethics in Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Policy Analysis, Critical Incident Management, Introduction to Criminal Justice, Principles of Investigation, Foundations of Criminal Justice, and Marketing and Sales Message Management.

Michael Thurmond

Michael Thurmond has distinguished himself as an attorney, author, lecturer and public servant. In 1986, he became the first African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction. During his legislative tenure, he was the only African-American legislator elected from a majority white district. While serving in the General Assembly, Thurmond authored major legislation that has provided more than $200 million in tax relief to Georgia’s senior citizens and working families. Following his tenure in the legislature, Thurmond was called upon to direct Georgia’s historic transition from welfare to work. He created the innovative Workfirst program, which has helped over 90,000 welfare-dependent Georgia families move into the workforce, saving more than $100 million in tax dollars that have been reinvested in childcare, training and other support services. In 1997, Thurmond became a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government. The following year, he was elected Georgia Labor Commissioner and served three terms.