By Maria Saporta
As a symbol of how important the Atlanta Committee for Progress has become to the business community, Duriya Farooqui has been named the new executive director of the public-private organization starting on May 2.
Farooqui, a consultant with Bain & Co. for the past two years, served with the City of Atlanta for six years – leaving in 2014 as its chief operating officer. She will succeed John Ahmann, who has been named executive director of the Westside Future Fund.
In an email, Farooqui said that during her “time as COO, serving the people of Atlanta was a tremendous honor, and I am humbled to have to have the opportunity to do so again with the ACP.”
The Atlanta Committee for Progress was started during the tenure of Mayor Shirley Franklin and continued during the administration of Mayor Kasim Reed.
It brings together Atlanta’s top business executives, university presidents and nonprofit leaders to work on issues critical to the city’s future. It also has served as a blue ribbon cabinet for the mayor of Atlanta, and the organization has helped create multiple task forces to focus on various issues, such as pension reform, the city’s infrastructure needs and big picture projects like the Atlanta BeltLine.
“Duriya is a versatile, highly effective leader with a passion for innovation,” said Paul Bowers, ACP’s chairman who is also the president and CEO of Georgia Power, in a statement. “She is known for her skill in driving strategy to execution and aligning stakeholders to foster the engagement we need.”
Bowers went on to say that Farooqui’s “experience in both the private sector and in public service makes her uniquely qualified to achieve the ACP mission of providing leadership to promote economic development in the City of Atlanta.”
At Bain & Company, Farooqui was responsible for working with business executives to drive management strategy, leading consulting teams, creating relationships and delivering high impact results. In this role, she led a team in the development of a strategy and plan for the largest school network serving low-income children in Metro Atlanta. She was also instrumental in her work with large companies to help transform their businesses and achieve critical growth and strategic objectives.
As COO for the City of Atlanta, Farooqui managed the city’s operating departments and agencies that represented a budget of more than $1.8 billion and more than 7,000 city employees. She brought focus to data driven management and led major initiatives including pension reform, restricting city operations, opening of the international terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and a 30-year agreement with the Atlanta Falcons for the new Mercedes-Benz stadium opening in 2017.
Mayor Reed named Farooqui as COO for the City of Atlanta in 2011.
“Duriya provided outstanding leadership for the City of Atlanta as my chief operating officer,” Reed said in a statement. “With her ability to develop innovative solutions and build support to implement them, I believe Duriya is uniquely suited for her new role as executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress.”
Reed described ACP as “one of Atlanta’s most unique and important assets” that has helped guide the direction of the city.
“The guidance and support of this exceptional group of business leaders has been essential to what we’ve achieved over the past six years of my administration,” Reed said. “I look forward to working with Duriya as we continue to make path-breaking progress for the City of Atlanta.”
Farooqui was pulled back into the public arena because she believes this is a “a pivotal time for Atlanta” and that ACP can help accelerate the development of the city.
“The ACP brings together incredible business leaders and it is the most impactful public-private partnership model in any major city,” Farooqui said. “I am looking forward to working with the ACP members to build on Atlanta’s long-standing tradition of civic engagement.”
Farooqui holds an M.P.A. in International Development from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and a bachelor’s in Economics and Mathematics from Hampshire College.
Farooqui also is a trusteed of the Woodruff Arts Center and serves on the boards of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, the Center for Civic Innovation and the International Women’s Forum of Georgia.