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Regional Leadership Institute builds the critical skills that are needed in metro Atlanta

By Maria Saporta

For more than 20 years, a regional leadership program has been preparing current and up-and-coming leaders for moments just like this.

The week-long Regional Leadership Institute (RLI), which had its first class in 1991, brings people together from all corners of the region where they can take a deep look at the issues facing metro Atlanta — from transportation, water, education, aging and leadership.

The program, which takes place at St. Simons Island, has become a neutral ground where a diverse group of leaders can get to know each other and find areas of consensus when they return to metro Atlanta to work on its various challenges.

That ability to understand the differing perspectives — urban and suburban; city and county; rich and poor; young and old; black, white, Hispanic and Asian; business, government and civic — is critical at this moment in metro Atlanta’s history.

On Thursday, July 21, the Regional Atlanta Transportation Roundtable will go through the agonizing process of selecting $6.1 billion worth of projects. And the relationships made during RLI and during the annual LINK trips to peer cities now are invaluable as we try to negotiate the various land mines that exist.

Both RLI and LINK were developed by Tony Landers, who served as director of community services for the Atlanta Regional Commission until he retired at the end of last year. Now Kellie Brownlow, his understudy, is carrying that torch.

The Atlanta Regional Commission recently announced its selection of the 56 public, private and nonprofit leaders who have been selected to be part of the 2011 class.

“This leadership program brings together people who are already leaders in their local communities and helps them see things through a regional and national lens,” said Tad Leithead, ARC’s chairman. “This type of regional vision and cooperation is critical for the future of the Atlanta region.”

More than 1,000 leaders have now been through the RLI program since its inception in 1991.

Here are the people who will be part of the 2011 class:

· Mark Alarcon, Councilman, City of Stockbridge
· Jeff Baker, Chief of Police, City of Morrow
· Joselyn Baker, SVP, External Affairs, Georgia Chamber of Commerce
· Maurice Baker, Manager, Community Relations, Georgia Natural Gas
· Jennifer Ball, VP, Planning, Central Atlanta Progress, Inc.
· Thua Barlay, Managing Attorney, Barlay Law Group LLC
· Holly Bass, President, Cobb County Convention and Visitors Bureau
· Holly Bates Snow, VP, Government & External Affairs, Piedmont Healthcare
· Denise Billups, SVP, Business Development, C Robinson Associates, Inc.
· Tom Bowen, Board Chair, DeKalb County School System
· Carole Boyce, District 1 Representative, Gwinnett County Board of Education
· David Brening, Civil Engineer, Lowe Engineers
· Wendy Butler, Partner, Coleman Talley, LLP
· Melissa Cantrell, Principal, CDH Partners
· John D’Andrea, Region Manager – Metro South, Georgia Power Company
· Arriana Daniel, Dean of Business & Public Service Technologies, Atlanta Technical College
· Jeff Dingle, Principal Engineer/Regional Sales Manager, Jacobs Engineering Group
· Jon Drysdale, Partner, Lowe Engineers
· Jeff Duckett, Councilman, City of Kennesaw
· Duriya Farooqui, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, City of Atlanta
· Gary Floyd, Industrial Relations Manager, Georgia Power Company
· Joan Garner, Commissioner, District 6, Fulton County
· Lisa Y. Gordon, Chief Operating Officer, Atlanta BeltLine Inc.
· Joddie Gray, Vice President, UrbanTrans
· Jack Hancock, Partner, Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP
· Nancy Harris, Mayor, City of Duluth
· Liz Hausmann, Commissioner, District 3, Fulton County
· Rob Hernandez, Deputy County Manager, Fulton County
· Brandt Herndon, President & CEO, Fayette County Development Authority
· Patrick Hill, Partner, Jackson Spalding
· Charles Huddleston, Shareholder, Baker Donelson Law Firm
· Lolita B. Jackson, Manager, External Affairs – Metro East Region, Georgia Power Company
· Srinivas Jalla, East Regional Technology Leader – Sustainable Solutions, CH2M HILL
· John Kachmar, Jr., City Manager, City of Johns Creek
· Wade Kelly, Vice President/Sr. Practice Manager, Atkins
· Cathy Liu, Assistant Professor, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University
· Andy Macke, VP, Government & External Affairs, Comcast Cable Communications
· Brian McHugh, Capital Projects Manager, Buckhead Community Improvement District
· Keith Melton, Community Planner, Federal Transit Administration
· Lyn Menne, Assistant City Manager, City of Decatur
· Sarah Morrison, Director, Spinal Cord Injury Services, Shepherd Center, Inc
· Michael Park, Principal Consultant, IBI Consulting
· Andy Pippin, City Manager, City of Hampton
· Steve Rapson, City Manager, City of Union City
· Ann Ray, Alderman at Large/Mayor Pro-Tem, City of Hapeville
· Brad Riffel, Vice President, AEC, Inc
· Louise Scott, Region Manager – Metro North, Georgia Power Company
· Lisa A. Sherman, Sr. Director, Marketing & Communications, Gwinnett Chamber
· Arnie Silverman, President, Silverman Construction Program Management
· Sonna H. Singleton, Commissioner, Clayton County Board of Commissioners
· Jasper Tanner, Program Officer, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
· Melody Totten, Accountant, Emory University
· Jeff Wansley, VP, Government Affairs, Metro Atlanta Chamber
· Price Weaver, Vice President/Principal-Atlanta, Colliers International – Atlanta, Inc
· Dave Williams, VP, Transportation, Metro Atlanta Chamber
· Cain Williamson, Sr. Principal Planner, Atlanta Regional Commission

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 Comment

  1. fernbchguy July 19, 2011 9:02 pm

    As an alumnus of Class 3, I can attest that this is a great program. Congratulations on more than two decades of leadership development!Report


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