ATTORNEY AND 59TH MAYOR OF ATLANTA
Kasim Reed is an attorney and politician who served as the 59th Mayor of the City of Atlanta for two terms from 2010 – 2018. As Mayor, Reed was credited for increasing core city services while reducing the City’s spending during the worst recession in 80 years. Upon entering office, Mayor Reed hired more than 900 police officers, creating the largest police force in the City’s history. He oversaw a 37 percent drop in crime during his tenure, improved fire-rescue response times and re-opened all the city’s recreation centers as safe havens for young people.
Working with the Atlanta City Council and the City’s employee unions, Mayor Reed successfully led a series of sweeping reforms to address the City’s $1.5 billion unfunded pension liability. He began his term facing a $48 million budget shortfall, yet, under his leadership, the City produced eight years of balanced budgets with no property tax increases, increased its cash reserves from $7.4 million to $200 million, and received eight consecutive credit-rating increases.
When Mayor Reed left office in January 2018, the City of Atlanta was on its best financial footing in forty (40) years and his approval rate was 65 percent, while Atlanta had earned a 69 percent ’right track’ rating from its residents.
Mayor Reed's civic leadership and service have been nationally recognized on programs such as Meet the Press; on news outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, FOX and CNBC; and in publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. Mayor Reed was a prime-time speaker at the 2016 National Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, and he has been a guest speaker at numerous national and international conferences including The World Economic Forum, Aspen Ideas Festival, Chicago Ideas Week, New York Ideas, New Cities Summit, Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America and the Gathering of Leaders. He also delivered his first TED talk at TEDCity2.0 where he discussed shaping the future of one of America’s most diverse cities.
While in office, Mayor Reed received numerous accolades for his role in leading the City of Atlanta to unprecedented growth and fiscal stability. In 2011, Governing Magazine named Mayor Reed as one of the top state and local government officials of the year. Thomas Friedman, the Pulitzer-Prize winning New York Times columnist and author of That Used to Be Us, called Reed “inspiring” and labeled him as “one of the best of this new breed of leaders.” In his book We Can All Do Better, former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley cited Reed’s straightforward approach in successfully reforming the city’s pension plan and wrote: “We need more of that kind of candor.” And David Axelrod, former Chief Strategist for President Barack Obama, called him “the most dynamic Mayor in America.” In 2013, he was ranked among the top ten most influential African Americans in the nation by The Root, a publication of the Washington Post Company. He received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, and The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington D.C. honored him with the Louis E. Martin Great American Award, saying he “heralds a new and creative approach to leadership.”
As a champion for Atlanta and the State of Georgia, Mayor Reed served on a number of advisory committees. He is the former Chairman of the Transportation and Communications Committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and former Chairman of the Regional Transit Committee of the Atlanta Regional Commission. He is a graduate member of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowship Class of 2007, Leadership Georgia Class of 2000 and Leadership Atlanta Class of 1998.
Prior to his election, Mayor Reed established a track record of leadership during his eleven (11) years as a member of the Georgia General Assembly. He was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1998 and served two terms. From 2002 to 2009, he served in the Georgia State Senate, where he was Vice Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. He is a former partner of Holland and Knight LLP, an international law firm.
Mayor Reed is a graduate of Howard University in Washington D.C., where he received his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor degrees. He also has honorary degrees from several other institutions. As an undergraduate member of Howard University's Board of Trustees, he created a fundraising program that has contributed more than $10 million to the school’s endowment since its inception. Mayor Reed was appointed as Howard University's youngest General Trustee in June 2002 and currently serves as a dedicated Trustee Emeriti.