Since her arrival in Atlanta in 1947 as a young bride who married her aviator husband in Havana, Rose Cunningham has worked incessantly to prepare Atlanta to become a more cosmopolitan and internationally aware city.

With the publication of her memoirs, “Joie de Vivre,” last year, Mrs. Cunningham is now available for speaking engagements that enable her to continue promoting Atlanta’s development as “an international city.”

In 2003, she was recognized for her efforts with the Kiwanis International Award of the year, which also has been given to Billy Payne, the president and CEO of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, John C. Portman Jr., chairman of Portman Holdings LLCs and others who have contributed to the city’s international recognition.

“Joie de Vivre” traces her life from her birth in Romania, to her escape from the Nazi occupation of France to Havana and then her life in the United States. She lived with her family in Havana until marrying John Cunningham, a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology and an American Air Force officer, who brought her to Atlanta. “The only time that Atlanta was an international city was during the Olympics,” she told GlobalAtlanta in an interview. “The streets were filled with people from around the world and you could actually walk in the streets.” A linguist who speaks five languages – Romanian, French, Spanish, Italian and English – she would like to be able to walk from Midtown to downtown while overhearing foreign languages and feeling safe. While she downplays the impact of the many international flights coming and going from the city, as well as the development of its ethnic communities, she said that she has enjoyed living in Atlanta and made the most of it.

The book recounts her accomplishments developing links with Sister Cities, starting the international division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, serving as the honorary consul of Costa Rica and participating in trade missions. The key to her ability to play an active role in the city’s international development, she said, has been her command of different languages. Spanish classes are in great demand, she added, with her students primarily managers of construction and landscaping companies that have Spanish-speaking employees, businesspeople seeking to open new markets in Latin America and health professionals who work with patients who speak only Spanish. Her previous books are in Spanish and titled, “Donde Duele (Where Does It Hurt) ?” and “Donde Stea (Where Is It)?”. Mrs. Cunningham may be reached by calling (404) 634-8016 or send an e-mail to