ATLANTA – Donata Russell Major, CEO, Concessions International LLC; George McKerrow Jr., president and CEO, Ted’s Montana Grill; H. Jerome Russell, president, H. J. Russell & Company; and Michael Russell, CEO, H. J. Russell and Company, will be inducted into the Business Hall of Fame at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business.
Robinson’s Business Hall of Fame is the highest honor given by the college to business leaders in recognition of their accomplishments in industry as well as their contributions to the community.
“Donata, Jerome and Michael have been tremendously successful as business and civic leaders, and personify the spirit of the Business Hall of Fame,” said Robinson College Dean H. Fenwick Huss. “Their accomplishments are substantial, as is their civic commitment. They have also significantly built on the legacy of their father, Herman J. Russell, who was one of our first inductees back in 1985.”
“George has demonstrated a passion and expertise in the restaurant business for more than 40 years, and has introduced innovation to that industry throughout his career,” said Huss. “George possesses the key ingredients to succeed in business and in life, and will make a wonderful addition to our Hall of Fame.”
The four will be inducted at a dinner on Tuesday, September 17 at the St. Regis Atlanta.
Now in its 29th year, the Business Hall of Fame was begun in 1985. With the addition of Major, McKerrow, Russell and Russell, there will be 79 inductees.
2013 Inductee Biographies
Donata Russell Major, CEO, Concessions International LLC
Donata Russell Major has been a principal force in the growth of Concessions International LLC, a leading concessionaire with food and beverage outlets in eight major airports in the United States and U.S. Virgin Islands, with more expected to open this year. The Atlanta-based company was founded in 1979 by her father, Herman J. Russell, as a sister company to H.J. Russell & Company. Major has played a vital role in Concessions International’s daily operations and management of 1,000 employees for 23 years. She has served as president and vice chairman, responsible for ensuring the successful management of all company departments and enterprises and for the development and implementation of the company’s vision, mission and strategic plan. The company’s portfolio comprises franchised, licensed and proprietary concepts, including bar and grill, casual dining, quick service, snack and deli. Concessions International is a franchisee of major national brands, including Fresh To Order, Seattle’s Best Coffee and Einstein Bros Bagels. The company also operates Pemberton Café at the World of Coca-Cola and Paschal’s Restaurant in downtown Atlanta’s historic Castleberry district. As CEO, Major manages key client and partner relationships, special projects, and business development. She also focuses on strengthening the company’s leadership team. Major serves as president of the Herman J. Russell Foundation, a family foundation that supports community initiatives and programs focusing on entrepreneurship, youth development and mentoring in communities where her family’s companies operate. Major’s extensive board involvement includes H.J. Russell & Company, Atlanta Partners for Education, Whitefoord Community Program, Early Learning Property Management, Inc., and the I.M.A.G.E. After School Program. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Major holds a bachelor of economics in management and marketing from the University of Pennsylvania and is the mother of two adult children. She lives in Atlanta.
H. Jerome Russell, president, H.J. Russell & Company
H. Jerome Russell (B.B.A. ’85) was named president and chief operating officer of H.J. Russell & Company in 1995, and serves as its visionary for strategic direction and new business development. Like his father and namesake, Russell has an entrepreneurial flair, an orientation to the future and dedication to community. During his tenure, his family company’s earnings have increased 20 percent each year, and its annual sales exceed $250 million. Russell started Russell New Urban Development in 2003 to provide high-quality in-town developments to stimulate economic growth and inspire urban living. After earning his B.B.A. from Robinson in 1985, Russell began his career in the beverage industry in Chicago. He returned a year later to manage City Beverage, a $15 million Atlanta distribution company where he handled logistics and local consumer marketing for national brands. As president of City Beverage, Russell began to integrate into real estate development in 1990 as a project manager for Gibraltar Land Inc., a development firm owned by H. J. Russell & Company. He earned professional certifications in commercial investment management and property management, and oversaw multimillion-dollar urban residential and retail developments. As the renaissance of urban America continues today, Russell New Urban Development is positioned as a significant player in the community. Russell has served on the board of Citizens Trust Bank and as its loan committee chairman, and took part in two of its successful mergers. His other board memberships have included H.J. Russell & Company, Concessions International LLC, the Metro Atlanta YMCA, American Kidney Fund and Central Atlanta Progress. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute, Atlanta Rotary Club, Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Young Presidents’ Organization and 100 Black Men of Atlanta. He and his wife, Stephanie, have four children.
Michael Russell, CEO, H.J. Russell & CompanyMichael Russell (MBA ’90) succeeded his father and company founder Herman J. Russell in 2003, and has focused on improving company efficiency and integration to provide seamless end-to-end services for clients. The Russell organization employs more than 1,200 people and generates annual revenues of more than $300 million with entities across major cities in the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Russell’s leadership includes serving as CEO of Concessions International LLC, a Russell company that is among the country’s leaders in food service management. An innovative thinker and manager who empowers employees to bring fresh perspectives, Russell’s talents support the company’s focus on entrepreneurial efforts. He also leads the aggressive pursuit of untapped opportunities, including the urban revitalization of selected cities. Mentored early in his career by renowned Atlanta developer and architect John Portman, Russell built on knowledge gained as a youngster in the construction industry. He worked his way up through his family company in positions ranging from cost estimator, project manager and head of business development. Before becoming CEO, he served as executive vice president in charge of management and strategic direction of construction and project management divisions. Russell has served on the board of the Georgia State University Athletic Association, the executive committee of Grady Board of Visitors, the Trinity Schools Board of Directors, the Kennesaw State Foundation, the Virginia Engineering Foundation and the National Association of Minority Contractors. He has been chair of the executive committee of the Emory University Board of Visitors and president of the Association of Builders and Contractors of Georgia. Russell received his bachelor of science in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and earned his MBA from Robinson in 1990. He is a native of Atlanta, and he and wife, Lovette, have two sons, Michael Jr. and Benjamin.
George McKerrow Jr., president and CEO, Ted’s Montana GrillGeorge McKerrow Jr.’s success in the restaurant industry spans 40 years, and his legacy is most apparent in Atlanta in the popular Ted’s Montana Grill locations. Nation’s Restaurant News has called him a “dinner-house legend” and credits him with giving “birth to an entire casual-dining segment” more than 20 years ago when he founded LongHorn Steakhouse Inc. McKerrow partnered with media entrepreneur, philanthropist and environmentalist Ted Turner in 2002 to create Ted’s Montana Grill, a classic American grill serving made-from-scratch dishes in an eco-friendly environment. The Atlanta-based company has 54 locations in 19 states, a marker of the significant growth in the casual dining segment since McKerrow opened the first LongHorn Steakhouse in 1981. Atlanta had few choices for that type of meal at a neighborhood restaurant, and through McKerrow’s vision and leadership the first Longhorn Steakhouse evolved into RARE Hospitality International, which also owned The Capital Grille. McKerrow retired from RARE Hospitality in 2000 and it was sold to Darden Restaurants in 2007. McKerrow co-founded We’re Cookin’ Inc. with chef Gerry Klaskala and former LongHorn chief financial officer Ron San Martin, and that group helped create two fine dining restaurants in Atlanta, Aria and Canoe. McKerrow has also served on the boards of the National Restaurant Association and Culinary Institute of America. He received the first lifetime achievement award from the Georgia Restaurant Association in 2007, and was inducted into the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Atlanta Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2008. McKerrow has served on the Industry Board of Robinson’s Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration, which is a group of national and international leaders in the hospitality industry who serve as guest lecturers, mentors and support for major academic projects. McKerrow holds a bachelor of science in political science from the Ohio State University.
Jenifer Shockley, 404-413-7078
Robinson College of Business
The largest business school in the South and part of a major research institution, Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business has 200 faculty, 8,000 students and 80,000 alumni. With programs on five continents and students from 88 countries, the college is world-class and worldwide. Its part-time MBA is ranked among the best by the Aspen Institute, Bloomberg Businessweek and U.S. News & World Report, and its Executive MBA is on the Financial Times list of the world’s premier programs. Located in Atlanta, the Robinson College and Georgia State have produced more of Georgia’s top executives with graduate degrees than any other school in the Southeast.