(Retired), The Coca-Cola Company
Earl T. Leonard Jr. may not have graduated from the Terry College -- he holds UGA degrees in journalism and law -- but his influence on students in the college is vast as a Distinguished Executive-in-Residence and through the financial commitment he made to establish the Bebe and Earl Leonard Undergraduate Leadership Scholars Program, part of Terry College's Institute of Leadership Advancement.
Leonard received his bachelor's degree in journalism in 1958 and taught in the School of Journalism until he graduated from the School of Law in 1961. After leaving Athens, he served as press secretary to U.S. Sen. Richard B. Russell and was a founder of the Senate Press Secretaries Association.
In 1964, Leonard joined the Coca-Cola Co. in Atlanta and worked in Industry Relations. He was elected assistant vice president in 1976, head of Government Relations in 1978 and senior vice president in 1983. During a pivotal 16-year period in the company's evolution, Leonard led the Corporate Affairs division of the soft drink giant, directing the company's communications, governmental relations and public relations.
Leonard has also been a leader in community service, serving on the boards of Special Olympics International, Very Special Arts, the Medical College of Georgia and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. In April 2006, he was appointed by Gov. Sonny Perdue to the Commission for a New Georgia, a nonprofit independent council led by CEOs and executives who bring innovative thinking and a business perspective to the operation of state government.
Leonard is a former president of the UGA Alumni Society, an emeritus member of the University of Georgia Foundation board of trustees, and a former member of the UGA Athletic Board. He also served on search committees for the university's senior vice president for external affairs, vice president for student affairs and the Richard B. Russell Professor of History. He is also a former chairman of the university's Annual Fund and has served on the Law School Board of Visitors and the Journalism Dean's Advisory Committee.
After his retirement from Coca-Cola in 1999, Leonard pledged $2 million to establish the Leonard Leadership Scholars Program, a two-year comprehensive leadership development curriculum that aids high-achieving Terry undergraduates in developing proficiency for business and community leadership.
Leonard has also proven to be a valued mentor to many Terry College undergraduates. From his office in Brooks Hall, he generously devotes much time to informal meetings and individual conversations with the Leadership Scholars and other Terry students. As an Executive-in-Residence, he also maintains an office in the college's Executive Education Center in Buckhead.
Leonard and his wife Bebe, who also graduate from UGA in 1963, have two grown children, Elisabeth and Chip.