ARC hires two new directors – Susan Chana and Sam Shenbaga

By Maria Saporta

The Atlanta Regional Commission has hired two new members to its executive team – Susan Chana and Samyukth Shenbaga.

Effective March 13, Chana will become the regional planning agency’s director of its Center for Strategic Relations, succeeding Julie Ralston, who has just retired after 31 years with the organization.

Shenbaga has been named manager of the agency’s Community Development Division, succeeding Dan Reuter, who recently left the ARC.

Susan Chana

Susan Chana

In her new role, Chana will oversee ARC’s efforts to build stronger networks for regional action and progress through communications and marketing, government affairs and community engagement.

“Susan is a dedicated, highly effective leader with a track record of success in both the public and private sectors,” said Doug Hooker, ARC’s executive director. “We are fortunate to have someone with her skills and experience joining us to help make the Atlanta region an even better place to live.”

Chana comes to ARC from Equifax, where she served as senior director of public relations. Prior to her time there, she directed WebMD’s social media efforts, managed corporate communications for Delta Air Lines and served as director of public relations for Zoo Atlanta.

Chana also has extensive experience in government affairs and community relations. She has served as chief aide and policy advisor to an Atlanta City council member, managed community relations for MARTA and directed government affairs at the Gypsum Association in Washington, D.C.

She also holds a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University.

In his role, Shenbaga will lead a team of planning professionals working on a range of community development and land use planning initiatives, including the popular Livable Centers Initiative community grant program, Developments of Regional Impact reviews and transit-oriented development.

Sam Shenbaga

Sam Shenbaga

Shenbaga comes to ARC from the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), where he served as a principal planner in the agency’s local planning division. Prior to CMAP, Shenbaga worked at private consulting firms in Chicago and Madison, Wis., where he helped private developers and municipalities develop neighborhood and site-specific plans.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Sam’s expertise and background leading this critically important division,” said Mike Alexander, director of ARC’s Center for Livable Communities. “He brings a passion for local and regional planning, along with a strong track record of success. Samyukth and his talented team will be working diligently to help build stronger communities and improve the quality of life throughout the Atlanta region.”

Born and raised in New Delhi, India, Shenbaga holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi. Shenbaga is a LEED accredited professional and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

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