Georgia Foreign-Trade Zone, Inc. 2019 Board of Directors
Joseph R. “Joe” Bankoff, J.D., Chairman
Chair, Sam Nunn School of International Affairs
Georgia Institute of Technology
Joe Bankoff was appointed chair of The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs in spring 2012 following six years as President & CEO of The Woodruff Arts Center in Atlanta and 32 years as a senior partner at the Atlanta-based law firm of King & Spalding. Mr. Bankoff’s association with Georgia Tech spans more than a decade and has been primarily focused on his work as the head of the law firm’s Intellectual Property and Technology practice group. His expertise ranges across law and policy, economic development, government legislation, fiscal planning, and global issues.
Mr. Bankoff currently serves as the Chair of the Board of the Midtown Alliance in Atlanta. His previous civic and professional board engagements include the Boards of both the Georgia and Metropolitan Atlanta Chambers of Commerce, the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, the Atlanta Speech School (Chair), the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Vice Chair), the Georgia Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology, the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (Chair), the Atlanta Legal Aid Society (Chair), the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts and Culture Coalition, Leadership Atlanta and the Georgia First Amendment Foundation.
Joseph Folz, Vice Chair and Treasurer
Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary
Porsche Cars America
Joe Folz is Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Porsche Cars North America, Inc. (PCNA), headquartered in Atlanta. PCNA is the importer of Porsche sports cars, the Macan and Cayenne sport utility vehicles and the Panamera sports sedan, for the United States.
As Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, Folz is responsible for all legal and compliance matters arising in the Porsche Group’s North American businesses, as well as for state and local government relations.
Folz has spent his career as an attorney in the automobile industry. A long-time Porsche owner and enthusiast, Folz joined Porsche in 2010 from the Automotive Practice Group of Chicago-based Barack Ferrazzano Kirschbaum & Nagelberg LLP, where he represented a number of vehicle manufacturers. He concentrated his practice on distribution, trade regulation, and franchising. Before that, Folz served for 29 years with Volkswagen Group of America, including 16 years as its Chief Legal Officer. He began his career as part of the Industry-Government Relations team at General Motors.
Folz was formerly Chairman of the Board of Directors of Volkswagen Bank USA. He is currently a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, the Board of Trustees of the Atlanta Police Foundation, and the Boards of Directors of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Airport Area Chamber of Commerce, the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Atlanta Aerotropolis Alliance.
Folz earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Administration from Kalamazoo College and a law degree from the University of Michigan. He is admitted to practice law in Georgia and Michigan.
Richard Sargent, Secretary
Chairman & CEO
Wilana Holdings LLC
Rick Sargent, an entrepreneur with four decades of experience in the chemical and textile industries, is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Wilana Holdings LLC, which owns Wilana Chemical LLC, Oswego Energy Texas LLC, and Oswego Energy Georgia and Alabama. The holding company was established in 2015 just after the sale of Peach State Labs Inc., a global technology and specialty chemical manufacturer founded by Rick in 1987. Rick also founded SOYMET ENERGY LLC, which manufactured, marketed, and sold biodiesel fuel under his leadership to the United States military, Southern Company, and the state governments of South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
In Rick’s early career, he worked for Trend Mills Inc., a large carpet producer, and Sandoz Corp., a Swiss pharma company which eventually became Clariant and Novartis.
Rick is the past chairman of the Georgia Association of Manufacturers and a current members of its executive committee. He also serves on the executive committee of the Georgia Foreign-Trade Zone’s board of directors.
A native of Georgia and a graduate of Newberry College, Rick played for a short time in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams.
Division Director, Global Commerce
Georgia Department of Economic Development
Scott McMurray is the division director for Global Commerce at the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), the main sales and marketing arm of the state of Georgia. He oversees 4 industry groups of directors and project managers, developing relationships with companies and site selection consultants to help recruit businesses to establish facilities and create jobs in Georgia.
Scott joined GDEcD in 2005 as a project manager. Previously, he held management positions with Warehouse California Corp. and Overseas Operations Export Management, both of Los Angeles, CA. From 1988 until 1993, Scott worked as both a public high school English teacher and college instructor in Miyazaki, Japan. From 1993 until 1996, he held a position as an import manager for a retail store chain in southwestern Japan.
A native of North Andover, MA, Scott holds bachelor’s degrees in English Literature and in Economics and an M.A. in English Literature from Emory University. Additionally, he holds an associate’s degree in the Japanese Language from Southern Japan International College in Miyazaki, Japan. Scott is on the board of directors for the Japan-America Society of Georgia. Scott and his wife Robin reside in Atlanta.
Griffin-Spalding Development Authority
David serves as Executive Director of the Griffin-Spalding County Development Authority and has held this position since 1993. His education background includes Auburn University, Georgia Southern University (BBA Accounting), and Mercer University (MLS Public Relations). He is a Certified Economic Developer, Economic Development Finance Professional, and a Certified Public Accountant.
David is a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association where he served as President during 2000-2001. In addition, he serves on a number of State and local boards and also serves as a faculty member for economic development and leadership courses for both the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech. He received the 2013 GEDA Rip Wiley Award for Professional Excellence and the 2014 University of Georgia Award for Exemplary Leadership and Service.
Chief Commercial Officer
Georgia Ports Authority
Mr. Pyron is responsible for providing strategic leadership of the Georgia Ports Authority’s business development, and trade development activities. His principal accountability is to develop all commercial activities in order to sustain long-term growth and market share leadership. This includes all sales, marketing, economic development, promotional, trade show, and agency relations activities.
With of a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from East Carolina University, Mr. Pyron has more than 34 years of experience in the liner, logistics and port sector of the maritime industry. Prior to his appointment to the GPA in 2008, he served as Vice President – Sales, for NYK Line – North America in Secaucus, New Jersey.
Deputy Chief Equity Officer
Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at City of Atlanta
Reese McCranie serves as the Deputy Chief Equity Officer in the Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. In this role, he works to advance Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ progressive public policy agenda on equity and inclusion, with a focus on health disparities, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ affairs, and economic empowerment and inclusion, and workforce development.
Previously, he was Director of Policy and Communications at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. At the world’s busiest and most efficient airport, McCranie led a team of public affairs and communications professionals, and was responsible for all media relations, external and internal communications, social media engagement and crisis communications.
Prior to joining the airport, McCranie was Deputy Director of Communications for the City of Atlanta. In this role, he served as spokesperson for the Mayor, formulated communications strategies for the Office of Mayor and City departments.
McCranie is a 2015 graduate of Leadership Atlanta, a 2017 graduate of the Regional Leadership Institute, and in 2012, he was elected as a Democratic National Convention delegate representing Georgia’s 5th congressional district. He was recognized as one of Atlanta’s 40 Under 40 from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. He is a board member for the Georgia Foreign-Trade Zone and is a member of the Georgia Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. McCranie serves as Treasurer for the Democratic Party of Georgia-LGBT Caucus.
McCranie graduated from Florida State University with a dual degree in Political Science and International Affairs. He earned his Global Executive MBA from Georgia Tech’s Scheller College of Business.
Aerotropolis Atlanta Community Improvement Districts
Gerald McDowell is the Executive Director of the Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs, a position he has held since 2015. The Aerotropolis CIDs have received more than $50 million in grants and project funding under his leadership.
Prior to joining the Aerotropolis Atlanta CIDs, McDowell served as President and CEO of The JILAS Company and directed efforts to raise investment capital for expansions into emerging markets in Central and South America and the Caribbean. He also served in the IT industry for nearly two decades, managing projects in more than 40 states and 12 countries.
Named as a ‘Notable Georgian’ by Georgia Trend magazine, McDowell was a member of the inaugural U.S. Department of Transportation Leadership Academy under Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. He is also a graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development and the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute.
McDowell also serves on the boards for the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, Council for Quality Growth, New Life Community Center, and the Global Center for Teaching, Learning and Development.
Senior Director of Community & Economic Development
Coweta Fayette EMC
Greg Wright serves as Senior Director of Community & Economic Development for Coweta Fayette EMC, a member-owned energy company serving over 82,000 accounts in six counties.
Prior to joining Coweta-Fayette, Wright served as president of the Coweta County Development Authority. Through his leadership, the Development Authority worked with new and existing companies on economic development projects that resulted in over 3,400 new jobs and over $800 million in new investment to the community.
Wright’s previous economic development experience includes three years as a regional project manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development and seven years as president of the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce.
Wright has also served as legislative director for former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and as state director for former United States Senator Saxby Chambliss. He is a past chairman of both the Georgia Economic Developers Association (GEDA) and the Georgia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (GACCE).
Currently, Wright also serves on the boards of directors of the Southern Economic Development Council (SEDC), the Greater West Georgia Joint Development Authority, and the West Georgia Technical College Foundation.