Advisory Board

Former Governor, Roy Barnes, Advisor

Described as a “lawyer’s lawyer” and recognized by the American College of Trial Lawyers as one of the top trial attorneys in the nation, Roy E. Barnes knew from a young age what profession he wanted to pursue. His love of law and his commitment to serving others have never wavered. A lifelong resident of Cobb County, Georgia, Roy Barnes received his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and graduated with honors from the Lumpkin School of Law at UGA in 1972. Upon graduation, he went to work as a prosecutor in the Cobb County District Attorney’s office, where he stayed until opening his first law firm in 1975.

For over 30 years, Gov. Barnes has tried civil and criminal cases throughout Georgia and in neighboring states including a successful class action lawsuit against Fleet Finance that received national recognition in the early 1990s. His practice has concentrated primarily on civil litigation, where he has developed an expertise in consumer class action cases, medical malpractice matters, products liability law, general tort matters and commercial litigation. Gov. Barnes has appeared in more than 250 cases in the state and federal appellate courts.

Gov. Barnes has been a public servant nearly as long as he has been a lawyer. At age 26, he was elected the youngest member of the Georgia State Senate. He went on to serve a total of eight terms and was a member of the Appropriations, Rules and Transportation committees. In addition, he was Chairman of the Select Committee on Constitutional Revision, which rewrote the state’s constitution as well as Chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee. He also served as a floor leader to Governor Joe Frank Harris from 1983 to 1989. After an unsuccessful bid for the Governor’s Office in 1990, he was elected to the State House of Representatives, where he served for six years and was Vice Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on General Law.

In 1998, Barnes was elected to serve as the 80th Governor of the State of Georgia. During his term, he concentrated on education reform, health care reform, and remedies for urban growth and sprawl. He created the Georgia Cancer Coalition and served as Chair of the Southern Regional Education Board, the Southern Governor’s Association, and the Education Commission of the States. He was defeated for reelection in large part because of his efforts to change the Georgia flag, a political decision for which he was honored with the 2003 John F. Kennedy Library Foundation Profile in Courage Award. From the day he was elected governor, Roy Barnes knew he would return to the practice of law, which he has done through the establishment of The Barnes Law Group.

Phillip Peacock, Advisor

Phillip has served as a corporate security professional with forty years of progressively responsible experience in law enforcement and corporate security, specializes in investigations, security risk management, and crisis management. As the Manager for Georgia Power Corporate Security, Philip is responsible for setting the criminal investigative strategy for the Company and managing a staff of highly trained professional investigators. Philip and his staff successfully manage a high volume of complex and wide-ranging investigations. Philip serves as the principal investigative liaison for Georgia Power management as well as senior federal, state and local law enforcement professionals.

During his forty years of service at Georgia Power, Philip has consistently excelled in numerous assignments and gained extensive experience in a broad variety of areas, making him a well rounded corporate security professional. Utilizing his experience and judgment, Philip has also been able to think strategically and strives to keep his department on the cutting edge of Corporate Security. He is the principal lead for all benchmarking done within Georgia Power Corporate Security and maintains close relationships with peers in the public and private sectors to ensure best practices are shared and implemented.

He has completed intensive security management leadership programs at Northwestern University and Georgetown University, and is a Graduate of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange Program sponsored by Georgia State University. Philip holds a Juris Doctor from the Woodrow Wilson College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University.

William “Bill” Rhodes, Advisor

William has worked over 40 years in the Fire Service. During this time, he worked as one of Atlanta’s first Paramedics at Atlanta Jackson Hartsfield Airport. Bill has served Atlanta as a Fire Captain, Battalion Chief and Assistant Chief. Following Bill’s retirement from Atlanta Fire Rescue in 2006, he continued to serve as a consultant to the Fire Chief through the end of 2012.

Bill holds a degree in Fire Management and is recognized for his involvement with the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, while currently working as the Liaison Group Leader with the Georgia Mutual Aid Group. Bill also holds membership of a level three Incident Management Team for North Georgia.

Carolyn Richter, Advisor

Carolyn is a partner with the Atlanta based law firm of Troutman Sanders LLP. She is also a member of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers. This organization selects approximately 200 members from commercial finance attorneys in the US that have practiced for at least 15 years and have contributed significantly to the education of others in commercial finance law through teaching, lecturing or published writings.

As a member of the Junior League of Atlanta, Carolyn served on the Public Affairs Committee, which focused on passing legislation to assist women and children at risk. Carolyn and her husband have two children and are members of All Saints Episcopal Church.

Ron Fennel, Chair, Immediate Past Chair, Advisor

Ron D. Fennel is co-founder and President/CEO of Georgia Capitol Associates, a governmental and public affairs consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. He also served as the Executive Director of the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association (2003-4) and was the Executive Director of the Atlanta Hotel Council since 1999. Fennel was Senior Vice President of the Georgia Hospitality & Travel Association from Apr. 1995 – Oct. 1998, directing the statewide organization’s governmental affairs, grassroots and communications efforts. He served as chief staff support for the Atlanta Hotel Council, Buckhead Hotel Council, Airport General Managers’ Forum, Cobb Hotel Council, DeKalb Hotel Council, Atlanta Restaurant Council, and others. Ron was responsible for most of the governmental affairs programming for Georgia’s hospitality industry since 1995.

Ron left GHTA in Fall, 1998 to start his own consulting business, with GHTA as his first client, adding others quickly. Fennel served in various political positions over his nearly thirty year career. He was twice elected to the Georgia House of Representatives from Brunswick. While in the legislature he served as a member of the committees on Transportation, Natural Resources, Defense & Veterans’ Affairs and Motor Vehicles. Ron also spent three stints at the Democratic Party of Georgia: Appointed by Governor Zell Miller as Executive Director (1990-91), Governor Joe Frank Harris as Field Director (1984), and Governor George Busbee as first-ever Executive Director of the Young Democrats of Georgia (1982).

He worked for nearly four years as Executive Assistant to then-Lt. Governor Zell Miller (1979-82), prior to starting his own political career. He served as a member of the Board of Directors for several organizations, including: the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau (1999-present); Atlanta’s Table of the Atlanta Community Food Bank (1995-present, Chairman in 1999-2000); TEAM Georgia, a statewide safe driving & safe boating program (1995-present, currently Chairman); Atlanta’s Inn for Children (1995-2002); Hills Park Neighborhood Assoc. (President, 2006), the Atlanta Fire Foundation (founding Board member) and others.

Fennel was active in leadership roles in industry groups as a member of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Economic Developers Association, Regional Leadership Foundation, Georgia Public Affairs Society and the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Assoc., Cobb County Chamber of Commerce, Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce, Fennel is a graduate of the Regional Leadership Institute (1998), Global Leaders of the South (1996) and Certified Hospitality Industry Executives (1996. He taught seminars at the Georgia/Alabama Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, Assoc. of County Commissioners of Georgia, Georgia Municipal Association, Southeast Kentucky Tourism Development Association, Southeast Tourism Society and many others. An alumnus of Georgia Southern University, Fennel lives in Smyrna with Cindy and their young sons Hunter Lanier and Walker Thomas.

Lawrence Calder, Advisor

A recent transplant to Atlanta, Lawrence has more than 30 years in the business world.  He was Vice President for Stacy Industries, a New York-based public company. He was founder and CEO of Coastal Textile Group, a Los Angeles-based international textile firm, manufacturing industrial and technical textiles in the USA and China, with global Fortune 500 companies in the USA, Mexico, Canada and the Far East. He sold the company in 1994.

Mr. Calder now focuses on private capital investments and his community and philanthropic interests. He was Co-Chair of a Florida Redevelopment Study and Implementation Task Force.  He served as Board Director of a Florida Community Redevelopment Agency, and was a Founding Board Director of a Florida Community Emergency Response Team. His philanthropic interests include local and national involvement with Girls Scouts of the USA and the Atlanta Fire Foundation.

A  University of Maryland graduate with post-graduate studies in finance and business law a Pace University, Lawrence and Dianne Belk, his wife of 32 years, now reside at 10 Terminus in Buckhead, being active participants of the community.

William (Bill) J. Liss, Advisor

As part of the news team at WXIA-NBC Atlanta, Bill serves as the Station’s Financial, Consumer & Legal Editor. He airs specialized business and consumer reports five mornings a week; as well as a special series, “Make Things Happen,” finding assistance for individuals and groups where none seem possible. He is a graduate of Rutgers University and holds a JD from Seton Hall University.

Bill is a member of the Bars of the State of New Jersey and the District of Columbia and is admitted to practice before the Federal and District Courts and the United States Supreme Court.

Amir Farokhi, Advisor

Amir Farokhi is Georgia Forward’s Executive Director. Prior to leading GeorgiaForward, he practiced commercial litigation with an Atlanta law firm. In 2012, Amir was named a “Notable Georgian” by Georgia Trend Magazine, awarded a 2012 Marshall Memorial Fellowship by the German Marshall Fund of the United States and is a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project.

In addition to the AFF, he serves on the boards of the Charles R. Drew Charter School and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, among others. A native Georgian, Amir is a graduate of Duke University and Duke University School of Law.