By Ann Boutwell

Pace Cetters, the professional businesswomen’s organization, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Originally called Peachtree Center Pace Cetters, the organization was created in 1969 by Peachtree Center Management’s Linda Calhoun, with sponsorship from architect John Portman.

During its early years, membership focused on women working in the Peachtree Center site, primarily in secretarial and administrative positions. The club provided opportunities to interconnect and share ideas.

At a celebration gala last month, charter member Judy Perry-Jones, executive assistant to Portman, shared a few historical moments from 1969 to 1985 when meetings were held at the old Midnight Sun Restaurant.

Jean Goodson, an employee with Deloitte LP accounting and consulting firm since 1957, joined Pace Cetters in 1971. Goodson has served three terms as president in 1975, 1981 and 1987. Current member Ann Howell with Riddle & Associates Clean Show Management joined in 1975 and was president in 1986.

By the 1980s, membership had expanded beyond administrative roles and the Peachtree Center site and gatherings were at the Top of the Mart of the 22-story Atlanta Merchandise Building. Since 1990 Pace Cetters has met at the historic Capital City Club on Harris Street.

Pace Cetters 2010 President Cheryl Clifford, of Cousins Properties Inc., said that the current membership of 55 members ranges in age from mid-20s to mid-70s. “The purpose of Pace Cetters is to create and actively support a community of professional women,” Clifford said. “A community where we can network, form lasting business relationships and personal friendships.”

The club supports charities in the Metro-Atlanta area that benefit women and children: My House, Metro Atlanta Chapter of MS Society, Noah’s Ark, Dress for Success, Elaine Clark Center, Atlanta Union Mission, Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Zoo Atlanta and Atlanta Council on Battered Women.

Over the past four decades, individual Pace Cetters have not only found a mentor, but have also become one. The newest member, inducted last November, is Stephanie Jones with Juneau Construction Co.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.