For media inquiries, please contact Angela Christian, Project Manager and Board Coordinator, at Angela.Christian@TommyNobisCenter.org or 770-427-9000.
Tommy Nobis Center Raises More Than $235,000 at its 23rd Annual Galaxy of Stars Luncheon
April, 29, 2021
Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, hosted its 23rd annual Galaxy of Stars event virtually on Friday, April 23, 2021 and raised over $235,000 – more than any other previously held Galaxy of Stars event.
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 ongoing operations.
This year’s Galaxy of Stars theme was Stars Among Us. Master of Ceremonies, WSB-TV’s Action News Anchor Justin Farmer, kicked off the event followed by a warm welcome from several TNC Stars. The program featured Stars Among Us-Tommy Nobis Center program participants who have achieved career success.
“This year’s event was incredibly meaningful,” said CEO Dave Ward. “It is always inspiring to celebrate the amazing success of our program participants and community champions.”
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 – Awarded to Destiny Adamson, a program participant who with the support of Tommy Nobis Center landed her first job. In her acceptance speech, she told of her journey to employment and what it means to her to have a job. She is also a student at Chattahoochee Tech pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice. Destiny concluded the program by reciting her original poem, The Legendary Dreamer.
Community Champion Award – Awarded to Jay Cunningham, owner and president of Superior Plumbing who in addition to being a successful businessman for over 30 years has given back to the community in countless ways through his dedication to many endeavors and causes. For the past eight years, he has administered the Superior Plumbing KIDS Club with a membership of over 300 special needs students who are given the opportunity to attend all types of fun events.
Family Member Advocate Award – Awarded to Lucy Cusick who not only provided fierce advocacy for her own son, Josh who was born with Cerebral Palsy, but also provided support to thousands of families during her 25 years as Executive Director of FOCUS + Fragile Kids. Josh, who lives independently and works part-time at a company that installs wheelchair lifts in vans, joined Lucy as she accepted the award.
Lifetime Achievement Award – Awarded to Dr. Ike Reighard, President & CEO of MUST Ministries and Senior Pastor of Piedmont Church, who has devoted his life to helping people exchange ordinary living for an extraordinary life. For almost five decades, he has brought insight, inspiration and humor to countless people as pastor, teacher, corporate executive, nonprofit leader, author, and motivational speaker. The organizations Ike leads are known for tangibly meeting the most pressing needs of the most vulnerable among us.
The event was sponsored by Cobb EMC Community Foundation, WSB-TV, Wellstar Health System, and the Atlanta Falcons. A recording of the event can be viewed at here.
Tommy Nobis Center Wins National Award
December 10, 2020
Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, was recently named one of the 2020 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For In The Nation. Tommy Nobis Center has won this award for the Atlanta area every year since 2017, but this is their first national recognition.
This award not only honors organizations as Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, but also celebrates achievement and success in empowering employees’ lives through rich heritage and culture. Organizations are assessed based on categories such as communication, work-life balance, employee education, diversity, recognition, retention and more.
“We are humbled to win such a prestigious award,” says President & CEO, Dave Ward. “We are extremely proud of the culture we have developed locally and across 23 states. It reflects our focus on our core values of Mission-Driven, Accountability, Fun, Innovation, and Integrity. We are honored to receive this recognition on the national level.”
Tommy Nobis Center Welcomes David Hamilton as Vice President, Administration
November 10, 2020
Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, recently welcomed David Hamilton to their leadership team as Vice President, Administration.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Hamilton has served in a variety of talent development and organizational leadership roles in diverse, multi-national, and multi-disciplined organizations ranging in size from 25 to 21,000 people and with multi-million-dollar budgets. His global experience across 40+ countries enhanced his cross-cultural communication skills and deep appreciation for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Hamilton has a Bachelor of Science degree in National Security and Public Affairs from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Development from Webster University, and a Master of Science degree in National Security Studies from the National Defense University. He was also a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.
“I am honored and excited to join the Tommy Nobis Center team,” says Hamilton. “I am looking forward to serving with great teammates who create opportunities for people who want to join the workforce and contribute to their communities.”
As Vice President, Administration, Hamilton will provide strategic leadership and guidance to People & Culture functions and oversee financial affairs, information technology, organizational safety & health, and facilities management.
“David brings a high level of experience to our leadership team,” says Dave Ward, President and CEO of Tommy Nobis Center. “His expertise and passion for service will be instrumental in helping us achieve our mission and change lives.”
President & CEO of Tommy Nobis Center Dave Ward talks about their amazing partners across the metro, including their 25 year partnership with Wellstar.
November 5, 2020
Tommy Nobis Center Welcomes New Board Member, Jerry Chang, CFA
October 19, 2020
Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, recently elected Jerry Chang as a new board member.
Chang is senior managing director and partner at Ankura, a management consulting firm with clients in the legal, corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors. Chang has over 25 years of experience specializing in valuation and financial advisory, including mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnerships, strategic planning, and litigation support. He attended Georgia Tech before earning his BBA in finance, with honors, from Georgia State University and his MBA in business and finance from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and was a member of Leadership Atlanta’s class of 2020.
“I am honored and excited to serve on the Board of Directors of Tommy Nobis Center,” says Chang. “I am looking forward to helping transform the lives of many people with disabilities.”
Chang believes that people with disabilities deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and given the opportunity to work toward financial independence. He supports the inclusion of all people in the workplace.
“Jerry’s experience and passion will be an incredible asset to our board,” says Dave Ward, President and CEO of Tommy Nobis Center. “His expertise and servant’s heart are the perfect combination for helping us achieve our mission and change lives.”
Tommy Nobis Family Carries On a Legacy of Service
September 29, 2020
Tommy Nobis was an extraordinarily talented football player, but he was also an extraordinarily good man whose service off the field had an immeasurable impact on the lives of so many individuals with disabilities. When he was approached in 1977 to support a new vocational training and placement program for students with disabilities, he not only lent the strength of his name, but also passionately served on the board of directors for the next 40 years with the same tenacity he exhibited on the football field. His passion, support, and personal involvement until his death in 2017 helped change the lives of thousands of people with disabilities.
Tommy’s wife, Lynn, was also deeply involved and when Tommy’s health began to fail, she took a more active role and joined the Tommy Nobis Center Board of Directors. Carrying on Tommy’s legacy of service after his death became a very important and meaningful pursuit.
After seven years of service on the board and a lifetime of dedication to Tommy Nobis Center, Lynn is now passing the torch to her daughter Devon Jackoniski, who was recently appointed to the board.
Lynn said, “I am so proud of our daughter. She has great enthusiasm for the Center much like Tommy did and I am thrilled that she is following in her father’s footsteps.”
Devon is Director of Clinical Affairs for ModusOne Health and a busy mother of three. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree from University of Georgia and a Bachelor’s Physician Assistant degree from Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine.
“We are extremely proud to welcome Devon to our board of directors. Her willingness to carry on her family’s legacy of service is inspiring and meaningful,” President & CEO, Dave Ward said. “She will bring the same tenacity and will to win that her father had.”
Having already served as chair of the Tommy Nobis Center Galaxy of Stars event, Devon will continue in that role again this year. She will carry on the strong Nobis family legacy of service through her incredible level of passion and dedication to the mission of Tommy Nobis Center.
CEO Dave Ward explains how Tommy Nobis Center has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people with disabilities.
August 20, 2020
CEO Dave Ward shares his insights with Willful Impact.
June 12, 2020
Tommy Nobis Center CEO Dave Ward: Driving Culture During Crisis
May 20th, 2020
The last 8 weeks have provided me new growth opportunities as a leader with my “work family.” The impact of COVID-19 on our society and the world has created an unprecedented time of change and has required us to find ways to adapt our office environments and work processes in order to continue offering our services. Most importantly for Tommy Nobis Center, I needed to find a way to keep our culture healthy and thriving during this time of social distancing.As a leader within your organization, how well do you know your team? Do you know what core values speak to them the most, how many pets they have, knowledge of what their first cars were or the first concerts they attended? Have you ever talked to them about their families, adventures, or personal challenges or trials they have experienced?
Investing my time and attention in my team and driving our culture is a top priority. I have a very large team, and I know the answers to these questions because I chose to engage my teammates using daily “projects” that I introduced each morning via email. I encouraged my teammates to “reply all” with their answers, thoughts, pictures, videos or a combination of these, so that our teammates could better get to know each other.
I realized that this quarantine situation was an opportunity to draw our team closer together, create more vulnerability and sharing, and strengthen our connection through this crisis. These email projects enabled the team to contribute experiences in transparency and trust, thereby enriching our relationships outside of the rigor of our routine, business-related tasks.
These activities were voluntary and helped solidify our bond as a team through our mutual investment in each other. We were free to share details of our lives, character, emotions, fears, struggles and celebrations, knowing that we could safely “be human” with our Tommy Nobis Center family amidst the world’s craziness.
As we begin to consider transitioning back into our office space, I remain focused on supporting my teammates through heightening our culture awareness. The healthier and more connected our work family remains, the more effectively we will be able to serve our clients, community and one another.
President & CEO, Tommy Nobis Center
Let’s Not Forget our Janitorial Staff
Apr 24, 2020
Working from home may be the new normal for many, but for a talented segment of the workforce it is not an option. Now, more than ever, professionals with disabilities are being called on to perform vital work in response to COVID-19.
Manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPE) has become a priority for many individuals with disabilities. Others continue to be a part of janitorial teams, which means possibly entering buildings with known exposures to the virus.
Right now, janitors – including those with disabilities from Tommy Nobis Center working at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta – are putting the safety of others above their own. Their unwavering commitment is helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Individuals with disabilities perform these jobs with pride every day, regardless of the risks.
Prior to the pandemic, people performing these vital jobs were often overlooked. Now they are considered essential personnel. As communities work to provide PPE to those that need it most, let’s not forget our janitorial staff. Most importantly, let’s give a round of applause to this essential workforce – now and in the future.
President & CEO, SourceAmerica
President & CEO, Tommy Nobis Center
Tommy Nobis Center Recognized as One of Atlanta’s Top Workplaces
MARIETTA, GA, (March 2, 2020) – TOMMY NOBIS CENTER (a Marietta-based nonprofit) has been awarded a Top Workplaces honor by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for the second consecutive year. The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by Energage, LLC. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture.
Tommy Nobis Center has been a staple of the Marietta community for more than 42 years. They are being recognized for their strong culture and for being a great place to work.
President & CEO, Dave Ward said, “We set and achieve audacious goals every year while also investing heavily in a robust culture with a focus on fun and innovation.”
Tommy Nobis Center Receives Diversity Award
MARIETTA, GA, (November 15, 2019) – Tommy Nobis Center (a Marietta-based nonprofit) that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, was recognized for Outstanding Diversity in an Organization at the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Awards ceremony on November 14 at King Plow Arts Center. They were honored along with an impressive group of individuals and organizations that are navigating the terrain of inclusion in a time of increasing social change and acceptance of all people. Tommy Nobis Center CEO Dave Ward was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the organization accompanied by members of the Board of Directors.
“This is a very meaningful award that we are extremely proud of,” said Ward. “Our organization exists to promote inclusion of all people in the workplace and we exemplify inclusion by the fact that of our 175 teammates, 75% have a disability.”
Tommy Nobis Center raises more than $200,000 at its 21st Annual Galaxy of Stars Luncheon
Marietta, Georgia (April 30, 2019) The Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, hosted its 21st annual Galaxy of Stars Luncheon on April 26 and raised over $200,000 – more than any other previously held Galaxy of Stars event.
Held at the Georgia Aquarium Oceans Ballroom, the event brought together approximately 400 corporate leaders and community supporters to honor the impact of the Center’s programs, celebrate its participants and raise funds to support ongoing operations.
This year’s theme was “Together We Rise.” Read full article on MDJ here.
Tommy Nobis Center recognized as one Top Workplace
Marietta, Georgia (February, 28, 2019) Marietta-based nonprofit Tommy Nobis Center has been awarded a Top Workplaces 2019 honor by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by research partner Energage LLC, a leading provider of technology-based employee engagement tools. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution and connection.
Tommy Nobis Center Participant Honored by Red Lobster as National Employee of the Year
Marietta, Georgia (August 13, 2018) – Steven Weiss, a Tommy Nobis Center program participant, was named Red Lobster’s Team Member of the Year for the mid-south region at the company’s General Manager Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Weiss, who was accompanied by Tommy Nobis Center’s President & CEO Dave Ward, was one of five Red Lobster employees recognized at the company’s red-carpet event. Tommy Nobis Center is a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment.
“I am so incredibly proud of Steven,” says Ward. “Steven dominated his goals, dominated the obstacles in front of him, and found his workplace success.” When Weiss first came to Tommy Nobis Center, he had been struggling to find a job due to his lack of a support system and reliable transportation. After completing Tommy Nobis Center’s individualized program by attending job readiness classes, participating in mock interviews and creating a resume, Steven was hired by Red Lobster in Austell, Georgia.
“[It] has given me self-worth and independence,” says Weiss. “I had been knocked down so many times I didn’t even believe I got the job…Most people would not give me or [other individuals with disabilities] the chance.”
“I’ve been in this industry for fifteen years, and I can tell you that Steven is one of the most dedicated employees that I have ever come across,” said Karen Atkins, Weiss’ General Manager at Red Lobster who nominated him for the Team Member of the Year Award. Weiss showed dedication to his job by walking over five miles to work one day in the pouring rain -and arriving early. Now that he has been working for over a year, he has been able to save enough money to buy a moped so he can ride to work.
Tommy Nobis Center Welcomes New Board Member, Sherry Nielsen
Marietta, Georgia ‐ March 15, 2018 – Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with disabilities enter or return to employment, recently elected Sherry Nielsen as a new board member. Her three-year term began January 2018.
Nielsen is an attorney at Ogletree Deakins, an international labor and employment law firm representing management. She represents employers in various employment law matters, including actions brought under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Nielsen is also experienced in handling complex disability access issues under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Nielsen earned her B.A. in history from Emory University and her J.D. from Emory University School of Law.
Nielsen is a partner to employers by helping them understand their legal obligations, specifically regarding laws impacting individuals with disabilities. Once she learned about Tommy Nobis Center and its impact, there was an immediate connection.
“I am committed to Tommy Nobis Center’s mission,” says Nielsen. “Individuals with disabilities are valuable members of our community and deserve to be engaged in meaningful employment.”
Nielsen believes in the positive effect the Center has had on those who have found successful employment. She was drawn to the Center’s employment services, which are individualized based upon particular interests, abilities, needs and goals. Her intention as a board member is to support the Center’s mission and its legacy and to increase its community awareness.
“Sherry’s experience and passion is an incredible asset to our board,” says Dave Ward, President and CEO – Tommy Nobis Center. “Her vision for our Center’s growth and impact is exactly what we need.”
Nobis Works Becomes Tommy Nobis Center
Name and brand honor the co-founder, Tommy Nobis
MARIETTA, Georgia – February 15, 2018 – Nobis Works, the Marietta-based nonprofit dedicated to training and supporting individuals with disabilities in community-based jobs, is becoming Tommy Nobis Center and today unveiled its new name and brand.
“Tommy Nobis, along with co-founders Bobbie Knopf and Joyce Slaughter, created an innovative organization to help people with disabilities enter or return to employment and enjoy productive and independent lifestyles,” said Dave Ward, president and CEO – Tommy Nobis Center. “Tommy’s dedication and generosity have been and always will be the heart of our organization. As a result, we decided to name the organization in his honor as Tommy Nobis Center.”
Tommy Nobis Center was founded in 1977, and at that time, Bobbie Knopf, a special education teacher, and Joyce Slaughter, a concerned parent, set out to fill the vocational training and placement service needs for students with disabilities as they transitioned from high school. They recruited Tommy Nobis, Mr. Falcon himself, who had been involved with the Special Olympics. Tommy Nobis not only lent his name, but also his support and personal involvement for more than 40 years to further the mission of empowering people through employment.
“Tommy was an extraordinarily talented football player,” said Ward. “He was also an extraordinarily good man whose service off the field has had an immeasurable impact on the lives of so many individuals with disabilities. We are very excited about honoring the man who helped found our organization with our new name and brand.”
As part of the rebranding, the logo was updated by Marietta-based branding firm id8. Tommy Nobis Center’s logo includes a distinctive and stylized “N” for Nobis. The symbol embodies momentum, and the bold stroke of colors leans forward to symbolize pushing ahead. The yellow side of the logo stands for enthusiasm, fun and joy, which encourages optimism and greater confidence. The central blue color symbolizes loyalty, strength and wisdom. Green, the combination of yellow and blue, denotes the uplifting energy that is provided by Tommy Nobis Center to individuals and their families.
Tommy Nobis Center Welcomes Amar Medatia as New Director of Nobis Enterprises
Goals for 2018 include adding more dedicated, capable employees across the country
MARIETTA, GA – January 12, 2018 – Tommy Nobis Center, a Marietta-based nonprofit that helps individuals with all types of disabilities find meaningful employment, has hired Amar Medatia as director of Nobis Enterprises. Nobis Enterprises is an affiliated entity of Tommy Nobis Center that fulfills government contracts by employing individuals with disabilities in jobs that allow them to enjoy productive and independent lifestyles while contributing to the greater business community. Nobis Enterprises has current contracts and employees in 19 states, and Medatia plans to grow those numbers in 2018.
Medatia’s role will enhance Tommy Nobis Center’ mission of empowering people through employment and help achieve its vision of supportive communities where people with disabilities are afforded the opportunity to work.
“I am both thrilled and humbled by the opportunity to help enhance the vision and mission of Tommy Nobis Center,” says Medatia. “I look forward to the challenges and successes of bringing impactful and lasting employment opportunities to individuals throughout the country who often struggle to find employment. I am focused on expanding our reach and supporting our employees.”
Medatia is a Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) and has significant experience in providing essential contract management support for the federal government and private industry.
“His experience and relationship-building skills will be invaluable to Tommy Nobis Center as we seek to expand our programmatic reach. I could not be more excited to have him as part of our leadership team,” says Dave Ward, president & CEO of Tommy Nobis Center.
Statement on Tommy Nobis’ Passing | December 13, 2017
We were deeply saddened to learn of Tommy Nobis’ passing this morning. As the co-founder and namesake of our organization, Tommy Nobis Center, his passing has hit us particularly hard. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Lynn Nobis, and his family, as they grieve the loss of a great legend and warm and wonderful man on and off the field.
Tommy Nobis was not only an incredible football player, from his early days at University of Texas to becoming the first draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons expansion team in 1966, but also he was tirelessly dedicated to giving back to his community. It is through his focus on serving that Tommy Nobis Center was founded 40 years ago this year.
Tommy instilled his work ethic and drive into our organization, and without his involvement, 25,000 lives of those with physical and developmental disabilities would not have been so positively impacted. We are forever in his debt.
Tommy’s legacy will live on through Tommy Nobis Center as we continue to change the lives of those with disabilities through employment.
President & CEO
Tommy Nobis Center