Atlanta names head of resiliency, sustainability as Rockefeller Foundation shutters its aid
By David Pendered
Atlanta has packed a lot into the stated goals of the city’s newly named chief sustainability officer – oversight of both resilience and sustainability. The appointment comes as the city’s main backer of its resiliency program, the Rockefeller Foundation, has all but eliminated its sponsorship of its worldwide, city-focused program.
Shelby Busó has been named the city’s chief sustainability officer. Busó is known for her sustainability efforts when she worked with Central Atlanta Progress and Midtown Alliance. Busó comes to the city from the U.S. Green Building Council.
In a statement released Tuesday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ administration announced Busó’s title and described the duties as such:
- “In this role, she will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of resilience and sustainability efforts for the City of Atlanta.”
This is the first and last time any version of the word “resilience” is mentioned. The rest of the statement addresses the sustainability aspects of Busó’s responsibilities.
In regards to the resiliency side of the equation, Rockefeller’s support of Atlanta enabled the city to create an environmental road map, Resilient Atlanta. This road map serves as a guide for Atlanta’s climate footprint, much like Atlanta City Design establishes a road map for development.
There’s not been much public discussion of what’s to become of the city’s resiliency initiative that created Resilient Atlanta.
The Rockefeller Foundation announced in April that it was shutting down its 100 Resilient Cities program, according to a report in June by citylab.com. In July, the foundation announced details including the start of a climate initiative that is to focus on a scale more human sized than the 100 Cities program, and a small legacy 100 Resilient Cities program that is said to not include Atlanta.
On June 18, Bottoms’ administration announced that former Chief Resilience Officer Amol Naik was leaving the post on June 28. Naik intended to spend more time with his family as it dealt with issues related to Alzheimer’s disease, and his mother, according to the statement.
In September, Naik joined a venture capital firm in the role of venture partner, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The company, Shadow Ventures, was formed to provide seed money to start-up technology firms in the built tech sector – including power, water, roads and construction, as the founder defined the sector in a presentation at Latitude 59, a conference that brings together start-ups and investors. Shadow Ventures has expanded into investing in, and advising early growth of, companies in the “music, movies, video gaming, E-sports and other media technologies,” according to the LinkedIn page of another venture partner who joined in September, Craig Hoffman.
The firm was founded by Atlanta-based K.P. Reddy, known as a serial entrepreneur, author and lawyer, and the company’s website says this of the company:
- “Shadow Ventures has pioneered the ability to Source, Diligence, Grow, and Exit seed stage startups by leveraging a community-based approach combined with proprietary technology, transforming the model of a traditional seed firm.”
When Naik was hired by Atlanta, in July 2018, Rockefeller Foundation’s funding and technical support provided to the city was highlighted in the official announcement from the Bottoms’ administration. It was a forward-looking statement, with a quote from Otis Rolley, Managing Director for North America at 100 Resilient Cities:
- “100 Resilient Cities looks forward to our continued partnership with the City of Atlanta and Amol Naik in his role as Chief Resilience Officer. We see significant opportunity to continue prioritizing the ideas and goals laid out in the city’s Resilience Strategy and look forward to partnering on the execution of the actions and initiatives laid out in its pages.”
Busó’s job is described as overseeing the nuts and bolts efforts of the sustainability programs efforts to help homeowners curb their utility bills and gain access to fresh food; and to implement the city’s Clean Energy Plan. The statement says this chief sustainability officer:
- “Housed in the Office of One Atlanta, the Chief Sustainability Officer will build on Atlanta’s national reputation as a sustainability leader and focus on three core issues:
- “Reducing energy costs for the residents most burdened by utility payments through energy efficiency, with a focus on our lowest income residents.
- Implementing the City’s Clean Energy Plan, which will accelerate our transition to lower-cost energy sources;
- “Ensuring affordable, fresh food access to an additional 50,000 residents by 2022, reducing the number of Atlantans residing in USDA-defined food deserts by 10 percent.”