Photographs by Martha Williams
Strength in Diversity
Coming out of the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, cities throughout the world are still coming together to chart a course forward. Atlanta is no different. But what has made and continues to make Atlanta different is our diversity. Most obvious to the eye is our diversity in terms of the races and ethnicities that have been able to ascend to leadership here. But when you delve into this year’s Atlanta 500 issue, diversity of station, diversity of background, diversity of thought, and other differences become apparent. As a Jamaican American whose parents moved here when I was six years old, this more nuanced diversity is why I herald Atlanta as my hometown although I was born in Kansas. With the varied voices at the helm of this city, we have the capability of coming out of the pandemic better than we went into it.
Moreover, while Atlanta is known as a world-class city, it has not lost its common thread. The sense of a carefully crafted community is woven throughout this issue, from the captains of industry to the artistic geniuses. All seek to create a community wherein camaraderie is as essential as the economy. Prior to the pandemic, that collegiality may have been taken for granted. But, as this issue exemplifies, Atlanta’s leaders now display an intensified commitment to inclusiveness.
Atlanta, like other cities, is not without its problems. Many of them are named within the profiles included in this issue. But the creativity with which our leaders are approaching these problems—and the freedom to approach these problems creatively in Atlanta—continues to be a national beacon, drawing the world’s problem solvers to our city.
Circling back to the theme of diversity, many eschew it. Diversity can be scary. Sameness can be comforting, especially when the world is upended as it was at the worst of the pandemic. But, through its turbulent and yet triumphant history, Atlanta has come to know that the best way forward is found through coming together in diversity.
2023 is a critical year for all cities, but the leaders within the pages of this year’s Atlanta 500 are up to the challenge. — Jacqueline J. Holness, Guest Editor