Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens has combined the city offices focused on immigrant and international affairs, promoting as its head a familiar face for the city’s diplomatic community.
Vanessa Ibarra will lead the cabinet-level office now known as the Office of Immigrant and International Affairs. She previously headed up just the latter office.
The city council approved the move, which merges the immigrant affairs division of the Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion with Ms. Ibarra’s former office, tasked with a variety of initiatives aimed at solidifying the city’s position in the world. For the last decade since its establishment, that has included hosting inbound delegations, managing the sister-cities program, fostering global economic development and more.
The mayor announced the move just after returning from Geneva, where he spoke to a United Nations committee on ending racial discrimination. Mr. Dickens has said that Atlanta is “graduating” on the world stage and needs to carry itself as such, bringing its knowledge and experience to bear on global challenges.
“Atlanta is a welcoming, international city committed to developing and fostering relationships that position us as a global hub for commerce, innovation, culture and diplomacy,” said Mr. Dickens in a statement. “From owning and operating the world’s busiest and most efficient airport to being home to numerous Fortune 500 companies and consulates, our influence spans the globe and this office will only foster the growth of that influence.”
Ms. Ibarra, who has shepherded the expansion of the city’s profile globally, will see her role expand to include improving the daily lives of immigrant Atlantans and working to help various departments engage with the international life of the city, according to a release.
“The greatest strengths of the City of Atlanta are its people, its leadership across sectors, and most importantly its vision, a global and welcoming vision. I have seen firsthand the hard work being done by both offices, and look forward to collaborating with the many partners, departments and community members to ensure a successful implementation of this newly created office.”
On Sept. 16, Ms. Ibarra is chairing the return to in-person Atlanta Consular Ball, which will introduce diplomats to the city’s ascendant film and entertainment culture, with the proceeds going to the Georgia Council for International Visitors.
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