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Shirley Franklin was elected the first African American woman mayor of a major southern city in 2002 and served two terms until 2009. During her eight years as mayor of Atlanta, she is best known for advocating for and tackling major government operations and ethics reform, launching the Atlanta Beltline, planning and executing over $5 billion in airport and water infrastructure improvement, leading the acquisition of the Morehouse College Collection of Martin Luther King Jr. Papers, launching the Regional Commission on Homelessness and developing successful business and public sector partnerships and alliances. Upon leaving office, she was appointed to the William and Camille Cosby Endowed Chair at Spelman College and served until June 2011.
She is currently the Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor in Ethics and Political Values at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin, a position she has held since 2013. She also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of Purpose Built Communities and is President of Clarke-Franklin and Associates, Inc. Additionally, she co-chairs the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta’s Regional Commission on Homelessness and serves on the boards of the United Nations Institute For Training and Research (UNITAR), Mueller Water Products, Delta Air Lines, The Volcker Alliance, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Neighborhood Community Stabilization Fund.
Shirley Franklin is a frequent public speaker and subject matter expert on leadership, public policy and community engagement. She is passionate about her city and has engaged in Atlanta-based community service for over 39 years, including active participation in the arts, homelessness and higher education.