Commencement Oratrix


          Shirley Franklin became the 58th Mayor of Atlanta, winning a landslide victory in November 2001. Having never been an elected official, Shirley Franklin redefined history by being elected as the city’s first woman Mayor and the first African-American woman to serve as Mayor of a major southern city.
         Her public service career began in 1978 where she served as the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs under Mayor Maynard Jackson. Under the leadership of Mayor Andrew Young, she was later appointed as the nation’s first woman Chief Administrative Officer or City Manager, where she was responsible for all the daily operations of a city that was a $1 billion corporation with nearly 8,000 employees and was charged with guiding the development of Hartsfield International Airport, a new city hall, a new municipal court building, and 14,000 net housing units. Ms. Franklin continued her public service as Executive Officer for Operations during the third term of Mayor Jackson.
         In 1991, Ms. Franklin joined the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, Inc. (ACOG) as the top ranking female executive, serving as senior vice-president for external relations. While in this position, she was instrumental in the development of such legacies as the Centennial Olympic Park and served as ACOG’s primary liaison with various labor unions, civil rights groups, neighborhood/community organizations, and environmentalists.
         Following Governor Barnes’s election in 1998, Ms. Franklin served on his three-person transition team and in 1999 accepted the Governor’s invitation to serve on the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA), where she was elected vice chair. In April 2000, Ms. Franklin resigned from GRTA and officially declared her candidacy for Mayor of Atlanta.
         Shirley Franklin offers the citizens of Atlanta experienced leadership matched with a vision and passion to making Atlanta a safer, cleaner city; creating a better city for families, seniors, and children; and creating a more open, responsive, and effective city government. She has a proven record of balancing the city’s budget for eight consecutive years, filling over 200 police vacancies, advocating for affordable housing, and building coalitions across racial, gender, socio-economic, and cultural boundaries.
         Ms. Franklin’s commitment to her community is exemplified by her active service on over 30 boards and committees. She currently serves as a member of the Democratic National Committee and treasurer of the Democratic Party of Georgia. She has served on a variety of other boards including: Atlanta Life Insurance Company, Spelman College, East Lake Community Foundation, Charles Drew Charter School, King Baudouin-U.S. Foundation, United Way, Paideia School, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, National Black Arts Festival, Community Foundation, Georgia State Arts Council, and Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
         Ms. Franklin has received numerous awards and honors during her career including the 1995 Legacy Award from the Big Brothers-Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, the 1996 Woman of the Year Award from the YWCA, the Georgia Women’s Policy Group’s Outstanding Woman of 2001, and awards from the League of Women Voters and the Abercrombie Lamp of Learning Award.
         Over the course of Ms. Franklin’s outstanding career, she has been featured in Business to Business, Ebony, Jet, Heart & Soul, Savoy, and Glamour magazines, and the New York Times, and was recently chosen as one of Atlanta’s movers and shakers in Jezebel magazine.
         A native of Philadelphia, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Howard University and continued her education earning her Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.
         Ms. Franklin has lived in southwest Atlanta for the last 30 years and has three adult children.

PHOTO: Sean Coke