Column: Atlanta Habitat’s Lisa Gordon to chair ULI Atlanta
By Maria Saporta
As published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on March 29, 2019
Two Atlanta women leaders will be collaborating to help bring more equitable development to the region.
Lisa Y. Gordon, president and CEO of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, has been named the new chair of ULI Atlanta – an Urban Land Institute District Council. She will serve a two-year term as chair.
“ULI Atlanta is proud to have Lisa’s visionary leadership in urban redevelopment at our helm,” said Sarah Kirsch, executive director of ULI Atlanta. “Her diverse career experiences and steadfast passion for community revitalization form a rare combination in a chairperson. We are excited to follow her guidance in our next chapter and participate in the positive impact she undoubtedly will have on land use issues across metro Atlanta.”
Kirsch has been instrumental in coordinating HouseATL, the coalition working to make sure the city does all it can to provide a broad spectrum of affordable housing options throughout Atlanta.
Gordon, who has served as Atlanta Habitat’s president and CEO since 2015, is a leader in transformational urban redevelopment for quality affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization with more than 20 years of experience facilitating public-private partnerships.
In her current role with Atlanta Habitat, Gordon has developed the organization’s five-year strategic plan and new vision and mission – making an annual $6 million economic impact through new home constructions, renovations and critical repair projects.
“Affordable housing is one of the most critical issues facing communities today, both in Atlanta and across the nation,” Gordon said. “Throughout my career, I’ve led groups to find critical solutions and choose smart growth by fostering meaningful relationships across industry leaders, elected officials, local advocates, stakeholders and residents. As District Council Chair, I’m honored to further the great work of former Chairperson Bob Voyles and ULI Atlanta. Together, we can advance our vision of making Atlanta a better place to live, work and play for all.”
Prior to joining Atlanta Habitat, Gordon served as the vice president and chief operating officer of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., a wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs. During her tenure as COO, the BeltLine opened four parks, developed 11.9 miles of hiking and permanent trails, completed the design of more than 50 percent of the BeltLine corridor and created a multi-year strategic plan.
Gordon has also worked in multiple leadership roles for government service, including as a cabinet member in former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s administration, served as the city manager of East Point and assistant city manager of Austin, Texas. She earned an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and a Master of Accounting degree from Nova Southeast University.
ULI is a non-profit education and resource organization focused on the enhancement of quality of life through the support, creation, and expansion of inclusive, walkable urban places. With more than 1,300 members throughout the Atlanta region, ULI Atlanta is one of the largest and most active ULI District Councils.
Buckhead CID thanks David Allman
For the past 20 years, David Allman has served as chairman of the Buckhead Community Improvement District. Not only was he the founding chairman of the Buckhead CID, he also bridged the different executive leaders who helped transform Peachtree Road between Lenox and Piedmont roads.
Now Allman is stepping down as chair. Thad Ellis, a senior vice president for Cousins Properties Inc. (NYSE: CUZ), will succeed Allman.
The Buckhead CID held a reception in Allman’s honor on March 21 at the Buckhead Club, which is housed in the 3344 Peachtree Road building that Allman developed. Coincidentally, the reception occurred at the same time as another reception for Vice President Michael Pence – creating a bit of a traffic jam in the heart of Buckhead.
Jim Durrett, executive director of the Buckhead CID, described how Allman helped create the Buckhead CID as a spin-off of the Buckhead Coalition, and he has led the organization’s top initiatives, including its current plans to build a park over Georgia 400.
“David set a very high bar for CID leadership. His service was characterized by vision, deep engagement, and emphasis on delivery of results,” Durrett said.
Allman is owner and chairman of Regent Partners, a real estate company. He has been in the commercial real estate business since 1980, and Regent Partners has developed or acquired more than $2.5 billion in real estate assets. Allman has held numerous civic roles. He is a national trustee for Urban Land Institute and is a former chairman for the Atlanta District Council of ULI. He serves as chairman of the Eleazar Wheelock Society at Dartmouth College, chairman of Opportunity International Nicaragua where he has spearheaded efforts to establish new models for holistic alleviation of poverty, and as past chairman for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority.
Girl Scouts Second Century Circle
The Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta held its seventh annual Second Century Breakfast at the Piedmont Driving Club on March 26, honoring Soon Mee Kim, executive vice president of global diversity and inclusion for Porter Novelli with its Changing the World award.
The event was launched in 2013 to celebrate the organization’s first century in existence and to guarantee its success for its second century. The national Girl Scouts organization was founded in Savannah in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low.
During her talk, Kim spoke of the importance of a name – her name. Her father gave her the name Soon (which means purity) and Mee (which means beauty). As a Korean-American, Kim said that at first she loved her name. But as she grew older, she felt her name set her apart from others when she was attending school.
“I changed my to Sarah,” she said – going from a word that meant beauty to one that made her invisible. By reclaiming her name – Soon Me, Kim said it gave her the opportunity to live purely, recognize injustice and to create community in her own family and her environment.
“We can’t do it alone,” said Kim, adding that her favorite TV show is “This is Us” – which shows how families and communities can embrace people who are different.
The breakfast is the signature fundraising event that brings together business and community leaders who believe girls can change the world. The 2019 breakfast raised $1.25 million for the nonprofit.
Moving in the Spirit topping off
On March 19, Moving in the Spirit held a ceremony to celebrate the final beam on the nonprofit’s new facility – A Space to Soar – at the Edgewood-Candler Park MARTA Station.
The ceremony included several partners: MARTA, Columbia Ventures, and Perkins + Will, as well as Moving in the Spirit’s board president, Jaimie Hardin, and two of its three co-founders, CEO Dana Lupton and COO Genene Stewart.
Once the facility is completed, Moving in the Spirit plans to scale the number of students it serves from 270 to 500. It also hopes to reach thousands more through performances and workshops held in its new 150-seat theater next to the MARTA station.
“I believe ‘A Space to Soar’ is going to be a portal for change,” Lupton said. “It will connect young people from across our city and nation to join together, support each other, and discover the skills they need to make the world a better place.”
Moving in the Spirit anticipates its new facility will open in March 2020. The organization completed the initial threshold of its capital campaign last fall, raising $8.4 million for the project.