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Hawks Organization Leading the Way for a Stronger Atlanta

Buckhead's Steve Koonin shares his vision

Regardless of where you live, there is a distinct pride that everybody feels towards their hometown sports teams. Imagine a team of heroes, led by a hero, energizing a diverse city for the betterment of all. Look no further than our own Atlanta Hawks and Steve Koonin of Buckhead. 

Since being named CEO of the Atlanta Hawks and State Farm Arena, Koonin has been the driving force behind the Atlanta Hawks Foundation and the powerful role that the team plays in our city. With accolades like "Best Overall Game Experience" in the NBA and "Best New Concert Venue in the United States,” Koonin's organization's mission to excite and unite the City of Atlanta through Atlanta Hawks basketball is being recognized.

Koonin's is being honored this month by the Anti-Defamation League. “The Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) mission is to eliminate hate from the world, which is not only a noble mission, but one that's needed,” says Koonin of the Buckhead organization.  “I see sports as one thing in today's fractured world, that bring people together better than any politician or policy.” Koonin’s motto of “you can't do wrong by doing right” is a testament to his dedication to our city. “Every time we're in a situation I think: I'd rather do the right thing than the most popular. The Atlanta Hawks want to do the right thing for this community.”

For the Atlanta Hawks and Steve Koonin, these words are the basis for action in so many remarkable ways. “I'm proud that we're there when we're needed in ways that are clever, and impactful,” says Koonin. The Atlanta Hawks Foundation has built 28 basketball courts throughout Atlanta. When COVID hit and schools closed, the Atlanta Hawks turned the basketball courts into pop up grocery stores, providing those neighborhoods food for two weeks. “Those basketball courts that we built for play, were literally the food insecurity solution for tens of thousands of people in neighborhoods across Atlanta,” said Koonin, “and that's something that I'm extremely proud of.”

“The most important, impactful thing that I think we've done - that I'll probably ever do in my career - is when State Farm Arena was turned into the largest voting and polling place in American history.” These efforts spearheaded a movement across America, and with Steve and the Atlanta Hawks leading the way, over 71 professional sports teams turned their arenas into voting stations.

“We've been vocal in our support of voting rights and several issues that we feel are causes that affect all people positively,” said Koonin. “We're bipartisan. Anytime somebody is disadvantaged, or not able to do what they need to do because of a policy, we're going to be at the opposite end of that issue, utilizing our platform.”

The ADL is the world’s largest anti-hate organization, envisioning an “America where those who seem different are not targets of discrimination and threats, but are equals, worthy of shared opportunity and a place in the American dream.” The ADL Southeast is celebrating a reprise of their signature Atlanta fundraiser and are honored to be presenting the Atlanta Hawks and Steve Koonin with the Torch of Liberty Award in honor of their work to make Atlanta as good as it can be for everyone!

Join with ADL Southeast as they gather to celebrate the Atlanta Hawks and Steve Koonin coming up on March 31 at City Winery. 

For tickets and information about the Torch of Liberty Award or the ADL Southeast please visit Adl.org/atltorch.

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