Ray Christman to lead Livable Communities Coalition

By Maria Saporta

The Livable Communities Coalition has named Ray Christman as its new executive director, beginning Aug. 31.
He will suceed Jim Durrett, who submitted his resignation a few days ago so he could become executive director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District at the end of the month.

Durrett is succeeding Scotty Greene, who is retiring after 10 years running the Buckhead CID (please read my column in today’s Atlanta Business Chronicle).

It is one of the quickest management segways at an Atlanta civic organization in recent memory.

“Ray was a consensus candidate,” said David Allman, chairman of the Livable Communities Coalition and a developer with Regent Partners. “We felt it was important to move quickly if it were appropriate to move quickly for the sake of continuity.”

Christman has been a longtime business and community leader in the fields of housing, preservation and smart growth.

Christman is the former president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta retiring from that post in 2007.

Since then, he served several months as the interim president of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. He also chaired the Peachtree Corridor Partnership, an effort to build streetcars and improve the pedestrian environment and urban experience along Atlanta’s most famous street.

Other civic roles that Christman has played include serving as chairman of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and as chairman of the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership. He also has been a leader in developing affordable workforce housing.

Leading the coalition is a logical move for Christman, who was a founding member of its board and has been serving as vice chairman of the organization for the last couple of years.

The Livable Communities Coalition is an outgrowth of the Quality Growth Task Force, an effort launched by the Metro Atlanta Chamber to encourage smart growth practices in the region. Christman served as the task force’s chair of the housing committee.

“I’ve been at the table and engaged with this organization since day one,” Christman said. “I think it’s a wonderful fit in terms of my interests and skill sets.”

The coalition was formed about four years ago as a conglomeration of more than 40 organizations dedicated to changing Atlanta’s growth patterns by linking land use with transportation and transit, creating housing choices, conserving green space and natural resources as well as promoting sustainable developments in the region.

Christman also was part of the organization’s new strategic planning process conducted earlier this year, which will include an added emphasis on transportation issues.

The coalition, located in downtown Atlanta but serving the entire greater Atlanta region, has handled several tasks currently not handled by other groups.

It has worked on studies (such as an analysis of tax allocation districts in Georgia), provided advocacy and education for smart growth principles, brought the community together to discuss growth, planning and development and conducted independent research.

As a point of note, Christman had been approached by a search firm about the Buckhead CID job, and he had been a finalist. So when Durrett took the Buckhead CID job, that opened up a spot at the coalition.

“There was a familiarity there,” said Allman, who just happens to be chairman of both the coalition and the Buckhead CID. “Ray knows the players. The players know him. And from the management of the Livable Communities Coalition’s activities, this is a seamless transition for us.”

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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