American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS, one of Atlanta’s longest-running Jewish young professional groups, will hear lessons from the business of professional baseball when Miami Marlins President David Samson speaks at the annual ACCESS Entrepreneur’s Night on Tuesday, May 17.
The organization’s signature event, now in its 26th year, usually features prominent members of the Atlanta Jewish community, such as Bernie Marcus, Steak Shapiro, Bruce Alterman and Todd Ginsberg, but Samson, who lives in Miami, plans to fly in for the engagement on his way back from the Marlins’ seven-game National League East road trip to Philadelphia and Washington.
He won’t be the first baseball executive to speak at Entrepreneur’s Night. The more than 50 speakers over the years have included Stan Kasten, a former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals who now is the president and part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“Any Jewish organization that asks me to speak I will say yes to,” Samson told the AJT in a phone interview. “I was sort of going to be in the neighborhood that week, so I decided to come to Atlanta. ACCESS is a great organization with a long history. I was honored to be asked.”
ACCESS Atlanta is the original ACCESS chapter, launching in 1990. AJC’s young professional wing now has 10 locations in the United States and one in Israel.
The 2016 edition of Entrepreneur’s Night will be held at 103 West in Buckhead and will start with a cocktail hour.
Samson said his remarks will focus on business and philanthropy and how to navigate a corporate world while following your moral compass.
“You can be very successful without sacrificing your values,” he said.
(After talking to the AJT, Samson had to deal with a star player who apparently didn’t follow that advice. Second baseman Dee Gordon, who won the NL batting title in 2015 and signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the Marlins in January, was suspended for 80 games for using performance-enhancing drugs because exogenous testosterone and clostebol were found in a drug test during spring training.)
In addition to being the president of the Marlins for 17 years, Samson was a contestant on Season 28 of “Survivor” in 2014, although he was the first one voted off the show.
Samson is one of nine current team presidents in Major League Baseball who have presided over a World Series champion (the 2003 Marlins), and he was one of the key figures involved with the largely taxpayer-financed construction of Marlins Park from 2009 to 2012.
Asked about the Braves’ new Cobb County stadium, which is set to open in 2017, and the team’s exodus from downtown, Samson had nothing but praise for his NL East rival.
“It’s interesting, there’s no question about it,” he said. “It’s going to be an adjustment, and I think they are ready for it. The Braves have been a model franchise for a long time. I think Atlanta had the benefit of taking the best of every ballpark they’ve seen and not making the mistakes that other teams have made. That’s the key. There’s going to be mistakes; you just want to make new ones, not old ones.”
What: ACCESS Entrepreneur’s Night
Where: 103 West, 103 W. Paces Ferry Road, Buckhead
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17
Registration: $35, which includes one drink ticket at the cash bar and heavy hors d’oeuvres, as well as annual ACCESS membership; www.ajcatlanta.org