Rogers Wade Named to Georgia Trend’s 2018 Most Influential Hall of Fame

Georgia Public Policy Foundation News Release
January 3, 2018

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Rogers Wade Named to Georgia Trend’s 2018 Most Influential Hall of Fame

Rogers Wade (left) with John White and Governor Nathan Deal at the Foundation’s 2011 Freedom Award Dinner, which honored Wade.

Rogers Wade, past president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and its current chairman of the Board of Trustees, is one of two people named to the Georgia Trend 2018 Most Influential Hall of Fame.

Wade retired as president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation to lead Governor Nathan Deal’s transition team in 2010 and currently serves on the Board of Regents. He has been named to Georgia Trend magazine’s 100 Most Influential Georgians annually for several years. In 2011, he received the Foundation’s prestigious Freedom Award, which is presented to a Georgian who has exemplified the principles of private enterprise and personal integrity.

Joining him in the 2018 Hall of Fame is Philip Wilheit Sr. of Gainesville. Wilheit is president of Wilheit Packaging, a longtime Georgia Public Policy Foundation supporter and serves alongside Wade on the Board of Regents.

Georgia Trend Magazine’s profile of Wade was written by Kenna Simmons; read it online here. It is reprinted in full below.

Rogers Wade
Chair of the Governor’s Defense Initiative
Chair of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation

He says he’s retired several times, but T. Rogers Wade’s behind-the-scenes influence on Georgia politics and public policy just won’t quit. That influence spans a remarkable period, as Georgia moved from being a one-party state to, well, being a one-party state – but with a different, Republican, party. Wade has been an insider in every administration, from serving as chief of staff to the late Sen. Herman Talmadge from 1973-1980 to leading current Gov. Nathan Deal’s transition team in 2010. He’s remained one of the governor’s advisors and chairs the Governor’s Defense Initiative, which focuses on economic development opportunities around the state’s military bases.

He’s a member of boards ranging from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents. He was also president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation from 1996-2009 and now serves as chair of the board.

‘You Spark the Idea’

Talking about the foundation – a nonprofit, nonpartisan, market-oriented research organization – Wade describes it in terms that could also apply to him: “You spark the idea, and then convince somebody it was their idea. And they can run with it like mad.”

Policy, he believes, trumps politics. “Good policy will make good politics, but good politics doesn’t always make good policy. … Good policy will happen only if you have open discussion.” As a longtime – and still well-connected – observer of state and national politics, he laments the fact that D.C. pols don’t really get to know each other anymore.

“They were there on weekends, and the younger people, their kids would be playing softball or soccer. You had a carload of kids in the car, some of whom were the children of people that you’re adamantly opposed to on the floor. But it’s kind of hard to call [their] old man an SOB when the kids are sitting in the backseat.”

Now, he says, his friends on both sides of the aisle can’t imagine having a cup of coffee with someone from the opposing party – and would get in trouble with their caucus if they tried. “I used to give a speech where I said the American eagle was a great bird, but it was being beaten to death by its wingtips,” Wade says. “I think that’s true of the two major parties now.”

Wade sees a brighter future for Georgia, a state he describes as being center-right in its politics. “I think we’re on a rise now, on the business side and everything else. … We are getting first crack at most of the really good stuff [in attracting new business],” he says. It’s a sure bet that however the political landscape may change, Rogers Wade will still be wielding influence behind the scenes.

About the Georgia Public Policy Foundation: Established in 1991, the Foundation is an independent, nonprofit state-focused think tank that proposes market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Regular events include Leadership Breakfasts and Policy Briefing Luncheons. Weekly publications are the Friday Facts and Friday Idea commentaries. Visit our Web site at Join The Forum at Like the Foundation at

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