Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is delighted to announce that Michael Kay will be presented with the Lifetime of Achievement award virtually on February 15. Michael’s leadership and his deep commitment to both the Atlanta community and our Jewish community will be celebrated at this virtual event.
Michael was born in New York City, spent his boyhood in Pittsburgh, and earned a B.S. degree in Hotel Administration at Cornell University. He came to Atlanta in 1979 to run the then-fledgling Omni International Hotels, and in 1991 went on to become the turnaround CEO of LSG Sky Chefs, the largest provider of integrated in-flight airline catering, serving 270 airlines in 48 countries.
From the moment he came to Atlanta Michael credits two mentors, Tom Cousins, and Herbert Kohn, with inspiring him to engage with philanthropy. “Tom taught me so much about this dynamic city, its opportunities, its challenges, and its most pressing human needs. Herbert was my guide to Jewish Atlanta. The first time we met, he heard I’d been on the board of Family Services in San Francisco. The very next day he called and invited me to get involved at JF&CS. It has been my Jewish center of gravity for many years.”
Michael is the current Chair of the Board of the Jewish Community Legacy Project and is a past board chair for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta where he created the first donor-advised fund committee and chaired the investment committee. He served on the Federation board when Steve Rakitt was CEO and chaired the creation of a strategic plan with Mike Leven. At JF&CS, where Michael chaired the board and served for two years, he and his wife Ann were honorary co-chairs of the capital campaign that resulted in an expanded campus and new space for the agency’s innovative IndependenceWorks program. He currently sits on the boards of The Weber School and the MJCCA. After serving on the national board of Repair the World, Michael and Ann assisted in helping bring Repair to Atlanta, now in its second year serving our community.
In the wider community, Michael served on the boards of YearUp Atlanta, United Way, The Center for Working Families, KIPP Schools in Atlanta, and Points of Light Institute.
Michael believes the “superpowers” he leveraged as a nonprofit board member all come from his experiences in the business world. “I can see and start with the big picture, but always have the end goal in mind. I’m a believer in championing success, recognizing it and celebrating it. And I’m a transparent leader who will always tell the truth.”
Even in retirement, Michael is incredibly busy. “Ann told me, ‘I’ll give you 30 days in the house, after retirement, to decide what you’re going to do.’ So, I divide my time into thirds — the nonprofit world, the business world, and white space to play and dream.” Michael and Ann are the parents of four children and eight grandchildren, several of whom live in Atlanta, and all of whom light up their lives.
Please register here to honor Michael Kay with this richly deserved award.