Mayor Kasim Reed has named the 21-member board that will advise his office on efforts to make the city a friendlier place for immigrants, a goal he has said is key to positioning Atlanta as a global city. 

The announcement represents the latest step in effort started when Atlanta last year became one of 33 cities and counties committed to the Welcoming America initiative

The board, known as the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group, will be chaired by Mr. Reed along with two other co-chairs: Jeffrey Tapia, executive director of the Latin American Association, and Charles Kuck, managing partner of Kuck Immigration Partners

The group will split into subcommittees through August, when they are expected to recommend actions to help the city address “gaps” in its efforts to assimilate newly arrived foreign residents, according to a City of Atlanta news release. 

The announcement comes as Mr. Reed is ramps up international engagement during his second term. In April he led a trade mission to Brazil and last month headed to the Bilderberg conference, an invitation-only dialogue of influencers discussing transatlantic affairs in Denmark. He is slated to travel to Africa in the fall. 

It also comes on the heels of recent reports highlighting immigrants’ economic contributions to U.S. metro areas and the adverse effects of what many call a “broken” immigration system in the U.S.

A report by the Kauffman Foundation in February showed that Atlanta was among the U.S. metro areas with the fastest-growing contingent of foreign-born high-tech entrepreneurs over the past decade.  

Last week, a report from the Partnership for a New American Economy said the denial of 8,700 requests for H-1B skilled high-tech workers kept computer firms in Atlanta from creating 11,052 new jobs, hitting those lower on the skills continuum especially hard.

Opponents of the H-1B say temporary foreign workers take American jobs, while the report asserts that their unique skills actually help their parent companies grow, creating more jobs down the line. 

In a March interview with Global Atlanta on his vision for Atlanta as a global city, Mr. Reed said Atlanta has often had to counteract anti-immigrant legislation coming out of the Georgia General Assembly. 

“Every time there is an adverse piece of legislation, I make it clear that folks are welcome in the city of Atlanta,” he said at the time. 

He also linked the announcement of a new Major League Soccer franchise to his vision of inclusion for the city’s immigrants. 

In recent speeches, he has noted that the city is the second fastest growing among U.S. metros by foreign-born population. 

See the full Welcoming Atlanta working group below: 

Co-Chair: Jeffrey Tapia, Executive Director, The Latin American Association

Co-Chair: Charles Kuck, Managing Partner, Kuck Immigration Partners

Rudy Beserra, Vice President of Latin Affairs, The Coca-Cola Company

Alejandro Cross, President, Latin American Chamber of Commerce

Walter Dukes, Metro Atlanta Region Senior Vice President, Georgia Power

Jason Esteves, Board Member, Atlanta Public School Board of Education

Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials

Helen Kim Ho, Executive Director, Asian American Legal Advocacy Center

Walter Jackson, Vice President, Operation Hope

Eloisa Klementich, Managing Director Business Development, Invest Atlanta

Pedro Marin, Representative, House District 96

Z. Illeana Martinez, Partner, Thompson Hine

Chuck Meadows, Vice President of Public Policy, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce

Kathy Palumbo, Director of Community Partnerships, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Emily Pelton, Chair, Coalition of Refugee Serving Agencies

-Hon. Ricardo Cámara Sánchez, Consul General, Consulate General of Mexico, Atlanta

Liz Sanford, Manager of Community Engagement, Atlanta Regional Commission

Ivan Shammas, General Manager, Telemundo Atlanta

Martina Stellmaszek, President & CEO, German American Chamber of Commerce

Tisha Tallman, President & CEO, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce


Ambassador Geoffrey Teneilabe, Consul General, Consulate General of Nigeria, Atlanta

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...