Atlantan Doug Hooker top choice to head the Atlanta Regional Commission

By Maria Saporta

The Atlanta Regional Commission’s search committee has selected long-time Atlantan Doug Hooker to be the new executive director of the regional planning agency.

The ARC board will vote on Hooker’s nomination in the next couple of weeks, possibly at a rescheduled board meeting to permit a 14-day advance notice.

Hooker currently is employed as vice president and director of Southern States for Atkins engineering and services firm that was formerly-known as PBS&J.

The search committee, chaired by Cherokee County Chair Buzz Ahrens, conducted a national search before unanimously picking Hooker as its lead candidate.

“We said we would be thorough, take our time, and find the best candidate,” said Tad Leithead, who chairs the ARC’s board. “We found him right here in Atlanta. Doug Hooker will be a superb director at a crucial time in our region’s history. All of us at ARC welcome him and look forward to working with him. Buzz Ahrens did a terrific job of leading the search committee.”

Hooker, who was attending the weekly Atlanta Rotary Club luncheon Monday, was delighted to have been selected as the search committee’s top choice.

Doug Hooker

“I will bring the experience I have gained in the region and the excitement of the relationships that I have developed and my love or this community to do the best job I can in leading the agency,” Hooker said.

The top job at ARC has not had a permanent director since Chick Krautler retired earlier this year. Observers in the Atlanta region have said that this is a critical time for the ARC given the recent approval of a project list by the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable.

All but one of the 21 Roundtable members are part of the 39-member ARC board.

Hooker has been a leader in the Atlanta community for decades. Before joining PBS&J/Atkins, Hooker served as executive director of the Georgia State Road & Tollway Authority.

Throughout most of the 1990s, including while Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, Hooker served as commissioner of public works for the City of Atlanta.

Hooker also holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science, Technology and Science Police from Georgia Tech, and he has a Masters of Business Administration from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

He is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta, Leadership Georgia and the Regional Leadership Institute. He also is a former chairman of the Civic League for Regional Atlanta.

In a quick ad-hoc interview, Hooker said he sees two top priorities facing the next executive director of the ARC.

“One is to work with the board members who were on the Roundtable and the other members to figure out an appropriate way for us to stay involved in the campaign leading up to the transportation tax vote next year,” Hooker said. “It is important for me to work with Tad and the rest of the board members to figure out the role we should have.”

The second major job will be to reach out to ARC’s partners around the region and the state, including members of the legislature, the governor and his administration to build the strongest relationships possible, he said.

“It’s important for me to do everything I can in this position to eliminate or reduce the two Georgias mindset,” Hooker said. “We are one Georgia, and we are only going to survive and thrive if we work together.”

The ARC board’s next scheduled board meeting is Oct. 26, but that is not enough time to meet the 14 day requirement. So the ARC board meeting could be rescheduled sometime by early November.

The plan is to present Hooker to the Atlanta region at the ARC’s State of the Region breakfast on Nov. 4.

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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