Athens CEOs Discuss the Great Realization. The Evolving Role of Business in Employee and Community Lives


Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

Athens-area CEOs gathered this week to talk openly about how they have reimagined the ways they operate generous businesses. Watch the full event here. 

At a regional CEO forum sponsored by goBeyondProfit, a statewide alliance launched by business leaders for business leaders to spur corporate generosity and improve lives, co-host Jon Williams, CEO of Better Communities Collaborative, shared, “COVID affected the way we work in a very dramatic and intense way. People realized that there’s an opportunity to do things differently.”


The event began with an inspirational keynote from Sarah McKinney, CEO of the Athens Area Community Foundation and President of Athens Rotary. McKinney said, “Our need to be philanthropic is the great love we have for our neighbor. It doesn't boil down to dollars or necessarily time. It's how we define the why and how we are willing to show up and love our neighbor.”

Panelists talked practically about determining the “why” for their business and how local businesses can respond to the needs of their employees and the broader community. 

“I had been in business for nearly 20 years before I was able to take a breath and really do some soul searching about what I really wanted the business to be about, what I wanted for our employees and that’s where our values came from, that’s where our “why” came from,” said co-host, Jon Williams. “We are trying to build better communities. Our employees appreciate it and they gravitate toward it.”

Rashe Malcom, Chef and Owner of Rashe’s Cuisine also founded two non-profit organizations Farm to Community and Culinary Kitchen of Athens to address food insecurities and close the gap of food deserts. Malcolm shared her decision-making process for responding to requests to take part in various causes. 

Malcom said, “People see me in the community doing a lot of different work. They believe that I am going to champion all causes. But I have to tell them, I know food, I champion food. So if we are talking about food, I’m in. But there are some fights that I simply do not know enough about. I don’t want to be fake or phony so I can’t jump at every cause, I have to stay true to me and my business.”

Bob Googe, CEO of Jittery Joe’s Coffee reflected on the changing nature of businesses’ relationship to the community over the decades. He said, “When I was in business school, one of the things they taught us was that the job of a company is to maximize shareholder profits. But if you’re a local business owner, you can’t always do that. You just do what is right because it's the right thing do to. It’s baked into our DNA.” 

Malcolm reminded the audience of the interconnectedness of business and community when she recalled the year her business faced successive disasters – a gas leak, fire and flood. 

“The community ended up being there for us.” Malcolm said, “The very people who remembered when I was there for them, when I fed them a plate or fed their family, or gave them money, they were there for us and helped carry our business through.” 


For More Information About the Athens Regional CEO Forum by goBeyondProfit and, Contact Tyler Jacobs, Senior Marketing Advisor, goBeyondProft, [email protected] or 678-764-8628