As the birthplace of the Civil Rights movement, being inclusive is a fundamental part of who we are as Atlantans. Metropolitan Atlanta boasts the second fastest growing foreign-born population in the nation and our immigrant and refugee community is fundamental to positioning Atlanta as the commercial and cultural center of the Southeast. As our foreign-born population has grown, so has our City. Between 2000-2012, the City’s foreign-born population grew by nearly 22 percent, from 27,352 to 33,358, while the native-born population grew by less than one percent. Immigrants and refugees enrich Atlanta’s economy by starting businesses at a faster rate than those who were already here and strengthen our cultural and social fabric with diversity of thought and experiences. In the City of Atlanta, nearly one in five children under the age of 18 live in a bilingual or non-English speaking household. It is our responsibility to support and celebrate the diverse heritage of our children—the future leaders who will drive Atlanta’s competitiveness on the global stage. The Welcoming Atlanta initiative brings together city government and community leaders to create a more welcoming and inclusive Atlanta that attracts and retains diverse talent, while ensuring that all Atlantans are meaningfully included and supported by our city programs, regardless of language or country of birth. The new Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs institutionalizes the Welcoming Atlanta initiative within city government and reaffirms my administration’s commitment to supporting and welcoming new arrivals who are already contributing to the prosperity of our great city and are critical to our continued growth. Yet, my administration’s commitment to being a welcoming city is just the first step. It is incumbent upon all of us to find strength in our differences and comfort in our common identity as Atlantans to ensure that Atlanta will once again be on the right side of history as a community that is tolerant, supportive and inclusive of all its neighbors. To all new Atlantans sharing your cultural traditions and innovative ideas, opening up new businesses, diversifying our workforce, furthering your education and seeking the American Dream and a better future for your children – welcome to the City of Atlanta.
Welcoming Atlanta City Staff
The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs was established by Mayor Kasim Reed to institutionalize the Welcoming Atlanta initiative within city government. Welcoming Atlanta began as an initiative of the Chief Service Officer who oversees strategic civic and social welfare priorities for Mayor Reed, including the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Michelle Maziar Director of Immigrant Affairs Office of the Mayor, City of Atlanta email@example.com
Luisa F. Cardona Deputy Director of Immigrant Affairs Office of the Mayor, City of Atlanta firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Mills Senior Program Manager of Immigrant Affairs, Office of the Mayor, City of Atlanta email@example.com
Atlanta City Hall, 55 Trinity Ave SW, Atlanta, GA 30303
Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs: Suite 3460
The Mayoral Welcoming Atlanta Advisory Committee
The Mayoral Welcoming Atlanta Advisory Committee—comprised of leaders from the corporate, nonprofit, government and philanthropic sectors—works in tandem with the City of Atlanta to ensure a holistic community-wide approach to immigrant and refugee integration.
Charles Kuck, Managing Partner, Kuck Immigration Partners LLC
Jeffrey Tapia, Former Executive Director, The Latin American Association
Claire Angelle, Director of International Affairs, Office of the Mayor, City of Atlanta
Rudy Beserra, Vice President of Latin Affairs, The Coca-Cola Company
Stephanie Cho, Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
Alejandro Coss, President, Latin American Chamber of Commerce
Javier Díaz de León, Consul General, Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta
Jason Esteves, Board Member, Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education
Misty Fernandez, GPC Customer Care Center, Georgia Power
Humberto García-Sjögrim,Vice President, Hispanic Strategies, The Coca-Cola Company
Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials
Stefanie Jehlitschka, President and CEO, German American Chamber of Commerce South
Tulu Kaifee, Senior Vice President, Multicultural Mortgage Manager, BB&T
Soumaya Khalifa, Executive Director, Islamic Speakers Bureau
Eloisa Klementich, President and CEO, Invest Atlanta
Pedro Marin, Representative, Georgia House District 96
Paedia Mixion, Chief Executive Officer, New American Pathways
Kathy Palumbo, Director of Community Partnerships, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Sanjay Patel, Board Member, Soccer in the Streets
Victor Peláez Millán, Consul for Political, Economic and Social Affairs, Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta
Liz Sanford, Manager of Community Engagement, Atlanta Regional Commission
Ivan Shammas, General Manager, Telemundo
Anibal Torres, Executive Director, The Latin American Association
David Lubell, Executive Director, Welcoming America
Rachel Peric, Deputy Director, Welcoming America
Kate Brick, Director of State and Local Initiatives, Partnership for a New American Economy
Dan Wallace, Partnership for a New American Economy
In September of 2014, Mayor Kasim Reed and members of the Welcoming Atlanta Group announced 20 recommendations that the City of Atlanta will implement to foster a welcoming environment in the City of Atlanta for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of origin. The 20 recommendations focus on community engagement, developing and harnessing talent, and public safety. To view full press release click HERE.
Community Engagement Recommendations
Goal: To reduce barriers to full civic participation while fostering positive relationships between the receiving community and new arrivals. To achieve the City of Atlanta will:
1. Create an Office of Multicultural Affairs with a Director who is part of the Mayor’s executive team.
2. Establish a Welcoming Atlanta Advisory Committee.
3. Create a website dedicated to the Welcoming Atlanta initiative.
4. Establish a citywide inclusive certification program.
5. Organize city dialogues with immigrant and refugee communities and groups in receiving communities.
6. Establish a My City Academy educational program.
7. Partner with Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta Beltline to expand pre-public notification of affordable housing options to include immigrant and refugee communities.
8. Partner with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish citizenship corners in Atlanta-Fulton public libraries.
9. Enlist well-known celebrities within the foreign-born communities to promote Welcoming Atlanta with an emphasis on the benefits of citizenship and community engagement.
10. Provide free booths for partner nonprofits to conduct voter registration and outreach at City of Atlanta festivals.
11. Assess current use of cultural competency training for all city employees and partner with nonprofits that specialize in cultural competency to develop a resource list and develop and implement curriculum.
12. Evaluate the city’s capacity to effectively serve immigrants and refugees by contracting a third party to conduct an internal and external needs assessment of public safety and customer service-oriented agencies, including a customer service assessment component.
Developing and Harnessing Talent Recommendations
Goal: To better harness the talents of, and provide opportunities for, today’s willing and able workers and develop a strong multicultural workforce for tomorrow. To achieve the City of Atlanta will:
13. Partner with non-traditional facilities to fund and expand opportunities for adult English language learning in the communities where immigrants and refugees live.
14. Use the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency (AWDA) to create targeted programming that recruits, trains and connects foreign-born workers to fill jobs critical to Atlanta’s economic competitiveness.
15. Assess and increase minority participation in the Small Business Enterprise Program.
16. Create a web-based one-stop shop for all entrepreneurs that clearly outlines the process, steps and requirements for starting a business in the city in multiple languages.
17. Address food deserts through immigrant entrepreneurship by providing incentives and assistance to grocers to open markets in food deserts.
18. Augment the findings of the disparity study with a survey of best practices to strengthen Atlanta’s Equal Business Opportunity Program.
Public Safety Recommendations
Goal: To foster a community of trust between Atlanta’s foreign-born population and the officers entrusted with protecting our streets. To achieve the City of Atlanta will:
19. Launch an initiative within APD and the City Prosecutor’s office to investigate and prosecute individuals who prey on immigrants (e.g., tax, credit card and other scams).
20. Create a Multicultural Liaison Unit in APD through scaling and expanding the existing Hispanic Liaison Unit.