What it’s like to run a business in Georgia right now

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 11.24.34 AM
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, as seen from Google Street View in 2017.

Georgia’s governor Brian Kemp decided last week to allow several businesses to reopen, such as barbershops and fitness centers. This week, restaurants, theaters and private social clubs will also be allowed to welcome customers. 

Source of the Week is spotlighting local business owners of color who will have to choose to either start up business again or stay shut, as deaths caused by COVID-19 in the state continue to increase.

Ryan Wilson (CEO) and TK Petersen (COO) are co-founders of The Gathering Spot, a membership-only club that provides workspaces and networking opportunities in Atlanta. The club has hosted events with brands such as Spotfiy, Coca-Cola, Google and Netflix. The co-founders were college roommates. After graduating, they realized there weren’t a lot of local spaces where they could connect with new people. The pair raised $3 million to launch the Atlanta-based business in 2016.

Ryan Wilson is an Atlanta native. He was named the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2017 Small Business Person of the Year. He was featured on The Root magazine’s 2018 “Root 100” and Ebony magazine’s “Power 100,” which feature influential African Americans in a variety of fields. He’s a graduate of Georgetown University and Georgetown University Law Center. 

TK Petersen manages the club’s operations. He graduated from Georgetown University and previously worked in the financial sector. The pair have been featured in Fast Company’s story on black tech entrepreneurs, and interviewed in USA Today and Bloomberg Businessweek on the growing number of black entrepreneurs in Atlanta.

Contact information: 

Email: rwilson@thegatheringspot.club and tpetersen@thegatheringspot.club

Phone: 678-232-7076

Listen to Ryan Wilson speak on the Atlanta Small Business Show.

Chrisopher Escobar is the owner of The Plaza Theatre, which he says is the oldest movie theater in Atlanta, and one of the only independent theaters in the area. The Plaza was shut down because of COVID-19 on March 19, the longest closure in the theater’s history. Escobar said the theater stayed open through World War I, 9/11 and the AIDS epidemic. 

Escobar is a first-generation American. He is the first minority executive director of the Atlanta Film Society and produces the annual Academy Award-qualifying Atlanta Film Festival. He has been named a “40 under 40” and “CFO of the Year” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, among other recognitions. He graduated from Georgia State University with an M.A. in Moving Image Studies with a concentration in production. 

Listen to Chris Escobar on Hybrid Atlanta. 

Contact information: 

Email: chris@atlantafilmfestival.com

Phone: 678-698-9048 (c)

Mother and daughter pair Ellen and Lana Ector founded Gymnetics Fitness, a private fitness studio in Atlanta. They offer personalized nutritional advice, weight loss programs and workout regimes. During the shutdown, they have been offering live daily workouts on Instagram and streaming fitness videos on their website portal. 

Contact information:

Email: info@gymneticsfitness.com

Phone: 678-468-7968

Listen to the Ectors on Fox 5 Atlanta

Last updated: April 27, 2020


Leslie Overton

Leslie Overton is an antitrust lawyer for the firm Alston and Bird. Overton focuses on antitrust counseling on strategic business activities like pricing, distribution, and licensing.

She served as deputy assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division from 2012-2014.  Here, Overton supervised over half of the Department’s merger challenges, including litigation complaints, settlements, and transactions restructured or abandoned.

She has been recognized by Best Lawyers, Global Competition Review’s “40 under 40,” the National Bar Association’s “40 Lawyers under 40,” The Root 100, and as an “Outstanding Healthcare Antitrust Lawyer” by Nightingale’s Healthcare News.

Overton photo jpeg

Areas of Expertise: Antitrust laws, litigation, business laws

Location: Washington D.C.

Contact Info:

     Email: leslie.overton@alston.com

     Phone: (202) 239-3012

She can be heard here:

Tim Wu

Update [03/05/2021]: President Biden on Friday named Tim Wu to the National Economic Council on Friday as a special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy.

Tim Wu is a Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. Wu joined the Law School in 2006 and teaches antitrust, copyright, the media industries, and communications law.  He is the author of, among other works, Network Neutrality Broadband Discrimination (2003), Who Controls the Internet (2006), The Master Switch (2010), and The Attention Merchants (2016). Wu is known for having coined the term “net neutrality”.

Wu was a law clerk for Justice Stephen Breyer and Judge Richard Posner, and has also worked at the White House National Economic Council, at the Federal Trade Commission, for the New York Attorney General, and in the Silicon Valley telecommunications industry.

Tim Wu
Professor of Law, Columbia University School of Law

Location: New York, New York

Contact Information:
Email: twu@law.columbia.edu | wu@pobox.com
Phone: (415) 690-0688

As Heard On Fresh Air: “How Free Web Content Traps People In An Abyss Of Ads And Clickbait”

Ursula Mentjes

Ursula Mentjes is an entrepreneur and sales expert. She is the Founder and President of Sales Coach Now, a professional sales coaching and training firm. Her work focuses on sales team coaching and management, entrepreneurial coaching and Neuro-Linguistic programming. She is a two time best-selling author, writing several books on how to grow sales. 

Mentjes’ expertise has earned her several awards including the SBA’s 2014 Women in Business Champion. She’s also won the 2013 Willow Tree Extraordinary Example and Extraordinary Entrepreneur Awards. Her clients include Aflac and New York Life.

Founder and President of Sales Coach Now

Areas of Expertise: Sales Team Coaching, Sales Team Management, Entrepreneurial Coaching, Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Location: Apple Valley, MN

Contact Location:

Email: Ursula@salescoachnow.com 

Phone: 949-838-6542

Heard presenting for Sales Coach Now Live (2009)

Carlos Gutierrez

Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Secretary for Commerce and founder of the Republicans for Immigration Reform super political action committee (PAC), spoke to Audie Cornish about amnesty and immigration reform in early February 2013:

A few weeks later, Gutierrez announced he was stepping down from his position as vice chairman at Citigroup to lead his super PAC as chairman. According to his bio on the Hispanic Leadership Network website, he was actively involved in U.S.-Cuba policy during his tenure as Commerce Secretary. He was also previously chairman and CEO of the Kellogg Company.

Founder and Chairman, Republicans for Immigration Reform super PAC

Areas of Expertise: Immigration, Immigration Reform, Business, Commerce, Politics & Policy, Latinos, Cuba, Republican Party, Conservative Politics

Location: Washington, DC (and sometimes New York)

Contact Information:
Email: cmgutierrez53@gmail.com
(202) 285-7778

Heard on NPR: For a complete list, click here.

All Things Considered: Republicans Divided Over Immigration Reform

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy is a Professor of Law at Stetson University College of Law. Her research focuses on corporate governance, election law, business ethics and constitutional law. She is the author of two books — Corporate Citizen: An Argument for the Separation of Corporation and State (2016) and Political Brands (2019). Torres-Spelliscy was counsel in the Democracy Program of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

Her research has been funded by Stetson University College of Law.


Areas of Expertise: Corporate governance, election law, business ethics, constitutional law

Location:  Gulfport, Florida.

Contact Information: 


    Phone:  (917) 208-0256

Listen to Ciara Torres-Spelliscy here:

Daisy Auger-Dominguez

Daisy Auger-Dominguez is the Global Head of Diversity Staffing at Google where she provides strategic direction, implementation, and alignment of Google’s global diversity hiring. Dominguez also serves on the board of directors of the Council of Urban Professionals. She was recently named a 2016 Top Executive in Corporate Diversity by Black Enterprise. She is based in San Francisco, CA.

Daisy Auger-Dominguez’s work is funded entirely by Google.


Global Head of Diversity Staffing at Google

Location: San Francisco ,CA

Contact Information:

Email: daisy@auger-dominguez.com

Phone: (646) 552-5696

Twitter: @daisyad

Listen to Daisy Auger-Dominguez here:

David A. Thomas

David A. Thomas is Dean of the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. During his administration, Dean Thomas has made a number of contributions to the School, including major redesign of the MBA curriculum, expansion of the MBA career management activities, and enhancement of academic and professional opportunities for undergraduate students. Dean Thomas has also increased the diversity of the school’s faculty among women, underrepresented minorities, and international faculty.

Before becoming the Dean at the McDonough School, Thomas taught business administration at Harvard University and finance at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2014, the Washington Business Journal recognized Thomas as one of the top Minority Business Leaders.

David Thomas, dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of BusinessDean and William R. Berkley Chair, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business

Areas of Expertise: leadership, cultural diversity in organizations, organizational behavior, strategic human resource management, executive development, and organizational change

Location: Washington, DC

Contact Information:
Please contact Teresa Mannix.

Email: Teresa.Mannix@georgetown.edu
Phone: (202) 687-4080 (office) or (571) 264-5363 (cell)

Heard on: 89.3 KPCC: Diversity in Tech

Added December 2015

Last Verified: October 2015

Sixcia Devine

Sixcia Devine is a small business growth expert. She is the Regional Development Director for Southern Florida and US Hispanic Markets for Constant Contact. Her work focuses on entrepreneurship, social media outreach, new marketing technology, business planning and connecting general markets to Hispanic markets. She has held important positions at business and marketing consulting firms and organizations. Devine has written several publications including  Tapping Into The Hispanic Market: Connect. Engage. Innovate. She has also won the Providence Business News 40 Under 40 Award twice.

Regional Development Director for Southern Florida and U.S. Hispanic Markets 

Areas of Expertise: Small Business Growth, Entrepreneurship, Social Media Outreach, New Marketing Technology, Business Planning, Connecting General Markets to Hispanic Markets

Location: Boca Raton, FL

Contact Information

Email: sdevine@constantcontact.com 

Heard on Banter : Best Practices For Education Based Marketing

Farha Aslam

Farha Aslam leads Stephens Inc.’s food and agribusiness equity research coverage. She joined this private investment bank in December 2004. Prior to joining Stephens, Aslam was part of Merrill Lynch’s equity research effort, where she worked on companies such as Kellogg, Kraft Foods, and the J.M.Smucker Company. She is an expert on the food and agriculture business.

Aslam received her B.A. from the University of California and an MBA from Columbia University.

Farha Aslam (1).jpg

Managing Director at Stephens Inc.

Areas of expertise: Food and Agribusiness

Location: New York, NY

Contact Information:

Chenoa Taitt, EVP of Marketing and Communications
Email: chenoa.taitt@stephens.com
Phone: (212) 891-1742

Laura Stephens, Marketing and Media Specialist
Email: laura.stephens@stephens.com
Phone: (212) 891-1717

Heard On The Street: Dive Into Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson and Hormel Shares

Added September 2015

Last Verified: September 2015