Keisha Lance Bottoms - A Destination for Ideation | Asheville Ideas Fest

Keisha Lance Bottoms

Mayor of Atlanta, 2018-2022

Keisha Lance Bottoms served as the 60th Mayor of Atlanta, and the senior advisor and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, 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. 

Sworn in on January 2, 2018, Keisha has 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.  

Bottoms 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. The City’s reserves remain 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, technical school training program, and 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 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.
  • Utilizing innovative and resourceful leadership, the City financed infrastructure projects totaling over $3.59 billion for the 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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 Mayor’s 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 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.