Deal appoints APS liaisons, empowers GEMA director

January 21, 2011

Gov. Nathan Deal has named Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams and Atlanta attorney Beth Beskin to act as his liaisons with the Atlanta Public Schools. They will serve as the governor's eyes and ears in the system by attending APS board meetings and meetings with SACS and then report back to the governor on the progress the districts are making.

“I am calling on these two leaders to work on behalf of Atlanta’s children,” said Deal. “This week I met with the members of the Atlanta delegation and I will make every effort to ensure that our children aren’t harmed by the adults who failed them.”

Rep. Abrams is the House minority leader for the Georgia General Assembly and state representative for the 84th House District. She is the first woman to lead either party in the Georgia General Assembly.  She is the CEO of SageWorks, LLC, a legal advisory firm that serves as general counsel for the Atlanta Dream WNBA professional basketball team. She co-founded and acts as chief operating officer of the Insomnia Group, a firm specializing in development, investment and consulting for complex infrastructure projects.

Abrams received her J.D. from the Yale Law School. Abrams graduated from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin with an M.P.Aff. in public policy. She earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Spelman College, magna cum laude.

Beskin is an attorney in private practice. From 2003 through 2010, Beskin served as counsel with the Atlanta firm Warner, Mayoue, Bates & McGough.  She has focused in her law practice on issues involving the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, pension matters and family law.  She graduated from LSU Law School, where she was a member of the Louisiana Law Review and Order of the Coif in 1989. Beskin obtained a M.S. degree in geology from the University of New Orleans in 1983 and worked for Shell Oil Company in New Orleans. Beskin and her husband, Jim, live in Atlanta and are the parents of two daughters, Alison and Claire.

Deal to empower GEMA to direct emergency response

Deal will sign an executive order next week which establishes a unified command at the agency head level to coordinate and direct emergency response actions of the state of Georgia.  This is the first time a unified command operation of this kind will be put in place. The governor’s executive order will create and establish an Emergency Management Operations Command which may, depending upon necessity as determined by GEMA Director Charley English, consist of the director of the GBI, the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, the adjutant general, the commissioners of the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Community Health.   

Deal also announced two board appointments.

Philip Wilheit, Jr., Fourth Congressional District, DNR
Wilheit is partner at Wilheit Packaging, LLC and owner of TargetMatz, LLC. He serves on the board of directors of the United Way of Hall County and John Jarrard Foundation. Wilheit is also a member of the Benedicts of Atlanta and sits on the Chattahoochee Bank of Georgia Advisory Board and the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce Membership Committee. Wilheit earned his bachelor’s degree from Mercer University and a master’s in business from Georgia State University. He and his wife, Addie, have one child, Turner.

Wilheit replaces Dwight Davis, who resigned effective Jan. 10 to join the Judicial Nominating Commission.

Jon Canada, Board of Public Safety
Canada serves as fire chief of Gainesville’s Fire Department and is also an emergency medical technician. He is certified by the National Board of Fire Service Professional Qualifications and is a member of the Georgia State Firefighters Association and the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs. Canada earned a degree in fire management from Dekalb College and Lanier Technical College. He holds a Class One Firefighter Certification from the Georgia Fire Academy at Georgia’s Public Safety Training Center. He and his wife, Jenny, have two children.