Keisha Lance Bottoms

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Mayor of Atlanta (2018-2022); Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement (2022-2023)

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Keisha Lance Bottoms: Biography at a Glance

  • Keisha Lance Bottoms served as Senior Advisor to President Joe Biden, leading the transformation of the White House Office of Public Engagement.
  • Bottoms led engagement strategy, crafted messaging, and advised the President on matters related to millions of diverse stakeholders across America, including CEOs, African-Americans, LGBTQ +, labor unions, AAPI, Latinos, and the disability community.
  • In 2023, Bottoms was appointed a member of the President’s Export Council which serves as the principal national advisory committee on international trade. 
  • She previously served as the 60th Mayor of Atlanta and was the first person in Atlanta’s history to have worked in all three branches of government, serving as a judge and City Councilmember before being sworn in as mayor.
  • Serving as mayor amid a global pandemic and a racial justice movement, Bottoms was applauded for demonstrating exemplary leadership during one of the most challenging times in the history of Atlanta. 
  • Her notable accomplishments include expanding the White House’s in-person engagement events, establishing Atlanta’s first fully-staffed Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, appointments of an LGBTQ Affairs Coordinator and a Human Trafficking Fellow, the citywide elimination of cash bail bond, closure of the Atlanta City Detention Center to ICE detainees, the establishment of citywide savings accounts for children in kindergarten, and the rollout of the most far-reaching financial transparency platform in the City’s history – Atlanta’s Open Checkbook.
  • The mother of four has also served on the board of Families First and shares her personal story of adoption and advocates on behalf of adoption and foster care.
  • Bottoms is a sought-after speaker on leadership, democracy, and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion.

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Biography

Keisha Lance Bottoms has served as Senior Advisor to President Joe Biden, leading the transformation of the White House Office of Public Engagement, and serving as an advisor, liaison, and media surrogate for President Joe Biden. While serving in the White House, Keisha led engagement strategy, crafted messaging, and advised the President on matters related to millions of diverse stakeholders across America, including CEOs, African-Americans, LGBTQ +, labor unions, AAPI, Latinos, and the disability community. Keisha helped elevate the President’s poll numbers by nearly eight points during her tenure.

Before joining the White House, Keisha worked with CNN as a Political Commentator, based in Atlanta, Georgia, where she served as the 60th Mayor. She is a visionary leader in bringing equitable outcomes to the forefront of government and commerce. Keisha became the first Mayor in Atlanta’s history to have served in all three branches of government, having previously served as a Judge and a City Councilmember. As Mayor, she committed herself to realizing her vision of “One Atlanta” – an affordable, resilient, and equitable Atlanta.

Sworn in on January 2, 2018, Keisha served as Mayor during one of the most challenging times in the history of Atlanta. In the midst of a global pandemic and a racial justice movement, Keisha became a leading spokesperson regarding the challenges and opportunities facing cities and leaders across America.

While navigating these unprecedented challenges, the Bottoms Administration was able to remain focused on the resilience of Atlanta, negotiating and closing the largest real estate transaction in the history of Atlanta, and one of the largest in the Southeast United States, delivering millions of dollars in community benefits to people across the city.

Keisha took proactive measures to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the City and its agencies. As a result, during one of the worst economic downturns the world has ever faced, the Bottoms Administration delivered four years of balanced budgets, without resorting to property tax increases, layoffs, or furloughs of City employees. At the conclusion of her term, City’s reserves remained at a near-high of $181M, far exceeding the requirements of the City Charter.

Shaped by a childhood and professional career that highlighted the inequalities amongst Americans, Keisha led her Administration in undertaking several major initiatives that would seek to eradicate systemic issues facing Atlanta, while creating a model for all cities to follow.

The major initiatives included:

  • Welcoming nine Fortune 500 companies who established a global or regional headquarters in Atlanta, helping the city add $11 billion to its total economic output and attracting $4.5 billion in total capital investment. Also ensuring that developments that would reshape Atlanta included historic levels of community benefits that would lift up Atlanta’s most vulnerable. These benefits included affordable housing requirements, securing the funding necessary to launch a city-wide affordable housing trust fund, a technical school training program, and a city-wide savings account for public school children.
  • Closing the City Jail to U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, eliminating cash bail bonds for non-violent offenders, and leading the transformation of the City’s jail into a diversion center that prioritizes providing individuals with the human services they need to make a permanent change in their lives versus an endless cycle of incarceration.
  • Took the landmark decision to remove members of the Atlanta Police Department from joint operations with the United States Department of Justice due to the DOJ’s refusal to allow officers to wear body cameras. Shortly after taking this action against the Federal government, the United States Department of Justice announced that Federal agents would be required to wear body cameras when executing search warrants or making pre-planned arrests.
  • Leveraging a whole of government approach to add over 7,000 units of affordable housing, including multifamily, senior living, and single-family developments. This effort was bolstered by issuing $140 million in new housing opportunity bond funds and making nearly $6 million in financial down payment assistance available for Atlanta’s legacy residents to purchase homes.
  • Establishing the “HomeFirst” $50 million investment ($25 million public and $25 million private). Projects funded include the creation of 550 permanent supportive housing units, over 1,000 shelter beds, housing for single women and families experiencing homelessness, and legal assistance for eviction protection for over 250 families.
  • Engaging with Partners for Home to execute the LIFT Initiative, providing more than $17 million in funding for emergency hotels and rapid rehousing. This resulted in the placement of nearly 1,000 people experiencing homelessness into permanent housing.
  • Utilizing innovative and resourceful leadership, the City financed infrastructure projects totaling over $3.59 billion for airport, water and wastewater, and multi-family / affordable housing projects. This included the opening of Westside Park, Atlanta’s largest greenspace, which features a 2.4-billion-gallon water reservoir that increases Atlanta’s emergency water supply from three days to up to 90 days.
  • Leading Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, traditionally one of the busiest in the world, through the COVID-19 pandemic by quickly reducing operating expenses, implementing budgetary reductions, utilizing federal relief grants to stabilize finances, and restructuring debt for near-term savings, amongst other cost-cutting measures. These measures ensured the City’s airport bonds continue to be rated among the highest airport bonds in the country. Notably, the airport became the first airport in the world to receive a LEED Platinum rating from the U.S. Green Building Council, recognizing the City and the Airport’s sustainability efforts.
  • Ensuring diverse opinions and perspectives were brought to government processes by creating the City’s first Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, the Office of Violence Prevention, and appointing the City’s first Director of LGBTQ Affairs.
  • Creating government transparency and fostering trust with the public by creating the Office of the Inspector General and rollout of the most far-reaching financial transparency platform in the City’s history – Atlanta’s Open Checkbook.
  • Opened three new police precincts, two new fire stations, two new EMS facilities, and two new @Promise Centers to provide all Atlanta residents, regardless of neighborhood, with access to critical services.
  • Successfully hosted College Football Playoff National Championship Games, the Major League Soccer All-Star Game, the National Basketball Association All-Star Game, and Super Bowl LIII, which included unprecedented community benefits – a $2.4 million renovation of John F. Kennedy Park on Atlanta’s Westside, more than 20,000 trees planted throughout the community and the seamless coordination of 40 federal, state and local public safety agencies.
  • Ensured several of Atlanta’s historical inequities were respectfully remembered, including the Atlanta Child Murders and the preservation of the Chattahoochee Brick Company land. Keisha’s steadfast leadership and equity-focused philosophy have led to numerous accolades and leadership positions, including having served as the Chair of the Community Development and Housing Committee and the Census Task Force for the United States Conference of Mayors and as a Trustee for the African American Mayors Association. She was also selected to Chair the Platform Committee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention and serves as the DNC’s Vice Chair of Civic Engagement and Voter Protection.

Tracing her family’s roots to a slave plantation in Georgia, it was Keisha’s highest honor to be named the 2020 Georgian of the Year by Georgia Trend Magazine. She also was named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year and was named a member of Ebony Magazine’s prestigious Power 100 List. She has also been honored as a BET 100 Entertainer and Innovator of the Year and was named the Smart Cities Dive’s 2020 Leader of the Year. Keisha was also the recipient of the Distinguished Civil Rights Advocate Award presented by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law in recognition of her equity-driven leadership to help guide and protect marginalized communities.

Keisha is the daughter of R&B icon Major Lance and Sylvia Robinson. She and her husband, Derek, are parents to four children.

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The Leadership Handbook: Lessons from a Former Mayor and Mother of Fourarrow-down

As the 60th mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance Bottoms quickly became known for her refreshingly authentic approach to leadership. She led through a term that began with the city experiencing a cyberattack and went on to include the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd and the racial justice movement that followed, and the most contentious elections in recent history.

In this conversation, Keisha will share insights from her leadership journey, recounting not only how she achieved the many accomplishments but also how she overcame the obstacles, including the bias she faced as a Black woman. Based on her own experiences as a professional and a mom of four, Keisha will teach audiences how to tap into what it means to be a leader - with a handbook of hard-earned lessons that can be applied across all aspects of work and life.

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Such an engaging speaker with great stories and insights. I don’t think I appreciated just how loaded her resume is - just really impressive. I feel like she’s lived 5 lives! She received a standing ovation.

The Canadian Real Estate Association
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