Growing up in the East Lake Meadows public housing community, Shannon Longino was influenced by her activist grandmother Eva Davis, who worked tirelessly for more than 50 years to transform the Atlanta neighborhood. “The living conditions back then were deplorable,” says Longino. “My grandmother wanted basic necessities for parents to raise their families and felt their economic status shouldn’t dictate what they deserved.” Today, East Lake is considered a model for urban housing, thanks to the efforts of Davis and others.
Longino was one of the first Black students to attend Garden Hills Elementary School in Buckhead, riding a bus from East Lake every day. It was an experience that proved enriching but showed her the disparity in Atlanta neighborhoods. Decades later, she continues her grandmother’s legacy in a citywide capacity, as senior vice president at Truist Bank working in the company’s affordable housing division.
She is also a champion of community causes. Longino is in the 2023 class of Leadership Atlanta, for example, saying that it’s a way to be in the room with decision-makers and bring her perspective to the table. But she’s never far from the ties and ongoing needs of East Lake, serving as the board chair for Drew Charter School to nurture future generations. Longino is proud that her three children received their education through the school and points to their successful adult lives—one is an FBI agent, the other two are marketing executives for large companies—as a legacy for which her grandmother fought. “We are all products of East Lake, four generations of us,” says Longino. “It’s important to show that while we might have been thought of as ‘throwaways’ at one time, this is what we look like now.”