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Former Metro Chamber President Sam Williams joining GSU faculty

By Maria Saporta

Former Metro Atlanta Chamber President Sam Williams is joining the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Williams, who retired as Atlanta Chamber president at the end of last year after 17 years at the helm, will be involved in helping the university connect with the broader civic and business community. He will start teaching in January.

Sam Williams

Sam Williams

“Sam has a wealth of experience and knowledge about Atlanta businesses and the larger community,” said Georgia State University President Mark Becker. “We look forward to how he’ll be able to bring that all together for our students and faculty,”

Williams has been both a participant and observer of Atlanta’s civic leadership for more than 40 years, dating back to the administration of Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. and serving as the first director of Research Atlanta.

Williams later joined the development and architectural firm of internationally-renowned John A. Portman. After leaving the Portman organization, Williams became president of Central Atlanta Progress before being named president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber in late 1996.

Joining forces with an academic institution was a natural culmination for his career, Williams said in an interview. He said Georgia State made sense because if the university’s leaders have a “broad vision” of how universities can connect with cities.

“They want to get the professors out to the community,” said Williams, who also will serve as a member of GSU’s Metro Cities Council – where faculty members from across GSU’s dozen different colleges come together to focus on the community. “They want to try to organize interdisciplinary teams to do research with the region and in other cities.”

Mary Beth Walker, dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, said Williams’ knowledge of Atlanta will be of great benefit to the students at the school.

“Our school is well-known for deep engagement in the policy world, putting our research into real action,” Walker said in a statement. “That our students now have access to one of the nation’s most successful chamber executives will only broaden their academic experience and expand their future leadership potential.”

In addition to beginning his new academic career, Williams has just finished publishing a book called: “The CEO as Urban Statesman: Harnessing the Power of CEOs to Make Cities Thrive.”

Maria Saporta

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.



  1. Beverly Fraud November 18, 2014 10:28 am

    How ironic that the chief architect of the “bidness” community’s attempt
    to whitewash a decade’s worth of academic genocide in Atlanta, Sam
    Williams, is now in a chair named for Beverly Hall’s chief apologist.
    Exactly what policy study will Sam Williams be leading? How destroying
    the future of a generation’s worth of poor and minority children is
    acceptable collateral damage as long as “Brand Atlanta” is protected at
    all costs?
    And why hasn’t this guy been subpoenaed to testify, if not outright indicted?Report

  2. Burroughston Broch November 18, 2014 1:46 pm

    Sam has a unique skill set – he focuses on the desires of CEOs while ignoring the input and needs of the rest of the community. Key examples are the Metro Chamber’s role in the failed regional TSPLOST and its codependent support of Beverly Hall and the APS cheating scandals.
    He wants to ensure his skills are not lost but are passed on to succeeding generations.Report


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