I = Involvement

Today, the Center for Civic Innovation kicked-off its latest series of Leadership Breakfasts. In preparation for its next 8 breakfasts, where City of Atlanta Mayoral Candidates will have the stage, the Center hosted the current and 2 former City COOs.

The 3 leaders in attendance – Peter Aman who served from 2010 until late 2011 (and is running for Mayor), Duriya Farooqui who held the office from December 2011- January 2014, and Dan Gordon who took the post in mid-2015 – shared information about the COO’s responsibilities, how they’re involved in the community, and what the community can do.

The COO is one of the Mayor’s two direct reports with responsibility for about 80% of the City’s 7,000 employees who take care of day-to-day operations. These operations range from public safety and water shed management to sustainability, the airport, and everything in between. Although parallels were drawn between running a corporation and running a City, the group made it clear that working in government is “much more complicated than business…<where> the moral imperative is to help people. <In addition to> breaking-down silos on a daily basis <within the organization>…they always have to consider what’s going to ‘engage or enrage’ citizens, dealing with a lot of anger and frustration stemming from misinformation.”

In a nutshell, these folks do A LOT behind the scenes to take care of the City, and most importantly, its citizens. Yet they realize they have much more to do. They acknowledge that the people who show up to Council and NPU meetings are not representative of the City’s entire population, where 1/3 of its people live below the poverty line. They also recognize that even though its police force does reflect the City’s diversity well, diversity is still lacking overall.

Dan and his team are getting more involved and being more proactive. They’re actively recruiting businesses below the I-20 corridor to create more job opportunities for all, despite education levels. They’re getting out in the community, becoming more visible, and soliciting more input.

The citizens of Atlanta need to get more involved too. Here are a few ways how:

  • Engage your neighbors, and especially those who are not your neighbors, to help ensure everyone has a voice.
  • Be a part of the solution: come to the table with problems…and ideas to help resolve them.
  • Get organized. With more than 470,000 City residents, lots of overlapping issues exist. Find out what’s already working and can apply in your neighborhood as well as for the greater good.

Find out more about the Office of the Chief Operating Officer, the Center for Civic Innovation, and the 2017 Mayoral Election. Live ITP Atlanta by learning about Atlanta and getting involved. We’re here to help. Follow us @liveITPatlanta on Facebook and Instagram, and check-out our website regularly for updates.