SPECIAL TO THE AJT //
Dan Gordon, president of Soleria Development Group (soleriadg.com) and a member of Congregation Or Hadash in Sandy Springs, is a passionate and active participant in metro Atlanta’s Jewish community. A man with a mission, he’s hoping to be part of the next generation of Jewish leaders while finding a way to make the world a better place.
He’s off to a good start: The Emory grad is active in a number of Jewish and community organizations and just recently returned from a trip to Israel, where he was part of the Frank Leadership Mission in what he describes at a “life-changing” experience.
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The Atlanta Jewish Times recently spent some time with Gordon to learn about his life, family, goals and ambitions. Here’s part of our conversation.
Atlanta Jewish Times: Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
Dan Gordon: I was born in Boston and also lived in Colorado before we moved to Pittsburgh, which is primarily where I grew up and also where I had my bar mitzvah. We moved here just before I started the 10th grade, when my father became the Chief of Liver Transplantation and a Professor of Surgery at Emory University Hospital.
For high school, I attended Lovett, where I served as Student Body President and wrestled on the school’s state championship team. I had a great experience at Lovett, but I was one of only four Jews in my class, which was a change from Pittsburgh, where roughly 30 percent of the students at schools I attended were Jewish.
I had a loving home with a very hard-working father – he was a surgeon – and a just-as-hard-working mother – she was a special education teacher and then dedicated her life to her family and community. I also learned a lot from my grandfathers, who were entrepreneurs – one in finance and the other owned a large millwork company.
I was exposed to great people and educational opportunities. Every year the family all got together (around 50 of us, including my grandparents) for Passover. So I knew family and tradition were important very early in life.
AJT: Would you share a bit about your immediate family?
DG: Jessica Gordon, my wife, is amazing. We met in college, and then she went to Georgetown Law, where she was in the top 2 percent of her class. She then clerked on the 11th Circuit and is now an adoption attorney in Georgia.
Jessica is also president-elect of the Georgia Council of Adoption Attorneys and serves on the board of Georgia Women for Change. On top of that, she is a room mom at our elementary school and will be a new member of the Education Committee at Or Hadash. I don’t know how she does it all, and I’m inspired by her drive to help women and children.
Both Jessica and I are so proud of Lexie and Macey, our 6-year-old twins. They are thriving, attending religious school on the weekends and also participating in gymnastics, ballet and tons of other activities. We also enjoy their drawings and listening to them read. We are so blessed.
AJT: What Jewish organizations are you involved in and what positions of leadership do you hold?
DG: I’m involved with a number of organizations, several linked directly with the Jewish community, including membership on the Host Committee for the Marcus JCC Golf Tournament and the Frank Leadership Mission Trip to Israel.
In the larger community, I was named to Georgia Trend’s 2012 “40 Under 40” and am involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta as treasurer and executive committee member; Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as co-chair of programming and membership; Outstanding Atlanta as a trustee; Emory University as an executive board member; and with the ELC Committee.
AJT: Have you visited Israel?
DG: I had the joy of going to Israel with my wife, her parents and the two rabbis that jointly performed our marriage service in 2005. That was my first trip, and it was incredible.
Then, in March of this year I was deeply honored to go to Israel on the Frank Leadership Mission. The experience took Jewish history, culture and tradition to a new level for me. This was a life-changing trip that will forever inspire me to get more involved in Jewish causes and to support our homeland.
I feel so proud to be Jewish and am forever grateful to those that came before us. I also pray for those that don’t have the same freedoms we do – Jewish or of any faith. I also see a clear need for the next generation of Jewish philanthropists to continue to play an increasingly important role here and abroad.
AJT: Tell us a bit about your work.
DG: I’m president of Soleria Development Group, where we assist with mergers & acquisitions, startups, collateral-based financing, corporate strategy consulting and real estate engagements. It’s interesting to note that I chose a name that also reminded us of light because the middle names of my twin daughters are “Rae” and “Schein.”
At Soleria, we offer a unique payment model and typically prefer a success-fee approach and often perform services for equity positions in lieu of fees. We like to show our clients that we are in it together; we want mutual success and understand some start-ups need flexibility.
Previously, I was vice president and chief development officer for many years at the Arthur M. Blank Family of Businesses. I particularly enjoyed building the 12 Atlanta Falcons Physical Therapy Centers with a great group of people. My career started at Home Depot in the Business Leadership Program and then in the Strategy Group before heading to business school.
AJT: Who have been your mentors?
DG: My grandfathers, Arthur Blank, Warren Buffet and Moses.
AJT: What are your goals?
DG: I want to be an excellent husband and father and an accomplished leader in the business and service communities. I’d also like to start my own foundation and be a pat of the next generation of Jewish leaders.
I’d like to leave a fingerprint by creating unique and meaningful change that will better our world for several generations to come.
AJT: What accomplishments make you most proud?
DG: Coming home to a family that is healthy and thriving, helping others grow in their careers and that are in need and creating a unique impact.
I like taking on challenges and working in roles where I feel my skills or style add something unique.
AJT: What advice – professional, personal or spiritual – would you give to others?
DG: Connect with what your passions are and what you are naturally good at and surround yourself with excellent people. Understand that you cannot change everything; focus on what you can do and understand when to move on.
Also, take time to give back in ways you were helped or would like to help.