Civic Leadership in Georgia

July 27, 2016 -- Jamie Way

Affiliate Georgia STAND-UP launched its Policy Institute for Civic Leadership in 2005. The intensive course is designed to educate and train leaders in metro Atlanta to examine the relationship between economic policy and social values. Trainees do this by analyzing power structures in the region to develop strategies to help working communities. Since it was founded, more than 350 participants have graduated from the program. Graduates have gone on to pursue public service careers in City Council, County Commissioner and beyond. Notable graduates include Georgia State Representative Renitta Shannon, Representative Park Cannon and Janine Brown, who is currently running for Georgia District 59 Representative.

The Policy Institute consists of a six to eight-week program with a cohort of 10 to 20 people from all over Georgia. Individuals may complete an application or be recommended by a graduate of the institute in order to be accepted into the program. Members of the institute participate in a variety of courses such as community enrichment, organizing, civics, voter empowerment, policy campaign planning and leadership development workshops. They learn about community organizing, mapping and surveying, and power analysis along with other vital subjects. The sessions go in depth on important technical issues such as land use and zoning policy as well as economic development 101 for community leaders.

Through the program, each participant is assigned to a group to complete a group project. Recently, groups have focused on economics, transit and food (in)justice as well as the impact of the new Falcons Stadium on the Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods in Atlanta. Georgia STAND-UP also previously developed a policy institute in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency and Stewardship Council to educate and engage community leaders on Proctor Creek, one of the most polluted streams in the country, so that they could have a greater impact in the environmental clean-up process.

Community leaders must be educated and experienced to empower their communities and achieve their visions. The Policy Institute provides tools to develop our leaders so they can better make a positive change for the communities they serve.