May 11, 2023 – Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, hosted its 25th annual Galaxy of Stars luncheon on Friday, April 28, 2023 at the Georgia Aquarium’s Ocean Ballroom.
The event brought together corporate leaders, community supporters, and friends to honor the impact of Tommy Nobis Center’s programs, celebrate its participants, and raise much needed funds to support growth of programs.

This year’s Galaxy of Stars theme was Celebrating Resilience & Hope. Masters of Ceremonies, WSB-TV Anchors Wendy Corona and Linda Stouffer kicked off the event followed by a welcome and comments from President & CEO Dave Ward. Students enrolled in The Academy at Tommy Nobis Center’s inaugural class took the stage to thank the event sponsors and attendees for their support and several participants throughout the room shared their stories.

“This year’s event was absolutely amazing,” said CEO Dave Ward. “Words can’t describe how inspiring it is to hear directly from our participants and their families about the impact of TNC’s programs in their lives.”

Tommy Nobis Center presented four awards to recognize the hard work and dedication of outstanding individuals who have contributed greatly to building inclusive communities where employment success is possible.

The award winners included:
Tommy Nobis Rising Star Award – Presented to Pamela Martinez, a Tommy Nobis Center employee at HUD in Denver, CO. Pamela has faced many obstacles in her lifetime but her persistence and determination along with a great sense of humor has carried her through. Despite multiple challenges including breaking her neck in a car accident and battling cancer, she has always found a way to carry on. She has excelled during her six years as administrative assistant and has recently been hired by HUD as a GS12 Service Support Specialist. She is an overcomer, and her life is a portrait of resilience and hope.

Community Champion Award – Presented to Roger Brathwaite, a disability champion and accessibility leader who is currently the ServiceNow Accessibility Program Manager at Accenture. Having survived two strokes before the age of 50, Roger has gone on to found The Young and the Restless of Atlanta, a state-wide support group for the brain injury community and he serves as vice-chair of the Brain Injury Association of Georgia Board of Directors. He has not only shown resilience and hope personally but has used his experience to support and inspire others.

Family Member Advocate Award – Presented to Manya Parker, the parent of a daughter with autism. Manya has been a fierce advocate for her daughter, Darby, working tirelessly to ensure that she receives the support she needs to reach her full potential. Darby has participated in Tommy Nobis Center’s programs and has been accepted into The Academy at Tommy Nobis Center in the fall. Manya also served as a parent advisor through Parent to Parent of Georgia and substitute taught primarily in elementary special education classes for ten years.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Presented to Doug Hertz, Chairman and CEO of United Distributors, Inc. Doug has been a driving force in metro Atlanta since becoming President and CEO of United Distributors in 1984. He has immersed himself in the civic and philanthropic community and contributed his expertise to advance the missions of many organizations. He is Chairman of Camp Twin Lakes, a camping facility he founded in 1989. The camp is designed for and serves nearly 10,000 special needs children and adults annually. Doug is a past Chairman of the Board at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a past Chairman of the Georgia Research Alliance and the Woodruff Arts Center, and a past director of Georgia Power Company. He also serves as a trustee for the Marcus Foundation and the Holly Lane Foundation. The Atlanta Business Chronicle has consistently named him as one of Atlanta’s 100 most influential individuals.

The event that raised a record $300,000 to directly support programs and services for people with disabilities was sponsored by Cobb EMC Foundation, WSB-TV, and Miller Family Foundation and Rachel & Ben Miller. A recording of the event can be viewed at

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Pictured: Pamela Martinez, Lynn Nobis, Devon Jackoniski, Dave Ward