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ARC’s Global Advisory Panel Celebrates a Season of Diverse Dialogues

Posted on: Nov 21, 2017

Global Advisory Panel members celebrate their successes at final group Civic Dinner
Global Advisory Panel members celebrate their successes at final group Civic Dinner

Metro Atlanta is a diverse, fast-growing region. That’s why it’s critical that the region’s planning efforts include input from all residents.

This was the idea behind the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Global Advisory Panel, which formed in March 2017. The goal: To ensure that the region’s vibrant, dynamic international community is well-represented at the regional planning table.

More than 160 people from across metro Atlanta joined our Global Advisory Panel in 2017. The panelists dove right in, holding 42 Civic Dinners that attracted 182 attendees.

At each Civic Dinner, 6-10 attendees met at a house or restaurant to share stories while building new relationships and fostering understanding about the challenges and desires of our global communities. This information will help inform ARC as we begin updating the Atlanta Region’s Plan, our long-range blueprint for the future of metro Atlanta.

While the Global Advisory Panel has wrapped up, ARC’s Civic Dinners program has been expanded to the entire Atlanta region. We want to hear from you! Register to host or attend an ARC Civic Dinner today.
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Common Themes Emerged

Global Advisory Panel members
A Global Advisory Panel group pose for a group photo before holding a civic dinner.

Each ARC Civic Dinner was organized around one of three topics: mobility, livability, and prosperity. While each dinner was unique, several key themes emerged. These themes, along with 267 supporting comments, were compiled in a report that was released at a Global Advisory Panel event on Nov. 14 at Canton House restaurant in Chamblee.

“It’s critical to understand the needs of our international communities if we’re to build a region that works for us all,” ARC Executive Director Doug Hooker told the group.

Here are some highlights from the report:


  • Improve public transportation and non-car commuting options

    A group of Global Advisory Panel members hold a civic dinner to discuss improving metro Atlanta’s mobility.
  • Increase transit-oriented development and density
  • Panel comments included:
    • I used to commute two hours for work, which had an impact on my emotional state. I felt like I was a meaner person.”
    • “I’d like to be able to walk to a grocery store that’s not a mile away.”
    • “New immigrants who come to Atlanta have such a hard time using public transportation that it ends up being completely underused, and
      eventually not used at all.”


  • Make walkability and vibrant street life a top priority.
  • Make housing affordability a top priority.
  • Panel comments included:
    • “Livability is an environment where you can easily meet all your needs in an accessible and an affordable manner.”
    • “Affordability is one of the largest assets that’s going away quickly.”


    • Champion free quality public education for everybody.
    • Ensure equitable wages for all, regardless of gender or race.
  • Panel comments included:
    • To me, a prosperous community means the ability to advance, class-wise, and education that gives access to that advancement. Also, access to opportunity, connectivity, and mobility.”
    • “We need to level the playing field to encourage more small business start-ups.”

Panelist Experiences

Anita Bryant, a financial consultant from Brookhaven

“When I walked into the dining room at our first event, and saw the diversity of the crowd and the numbers of people, I was just blown away,” she said.

The Global Advisory Panel helped her to make connections from around the globe—and around metro Atlanta.

“A lot of people in, say, Alpharetta have never been to the south side of Atlanta — and vice-versa — so if we can make that happen, and really hear one another’s perspectives, then that’s a good thing.”

Carlos Perez, a planner from Midtown

“I was really interested in ARC’s initiative to see what we could do to make metro Atlanta a much more foreign-friendly and diversity-friendly region. I really believe that anything we can do to encourage that diversity is really important.

“The format allowed for us to talk and about learn about people’s underlying reasons for feeling a certain way about an issue. I will definitely take a lot of things I learned through the process into my professional practice, especially some of the concerns and issues I heard about.”

Join the Conversation

While the Global Advisory Panel has wrapped up, the ARC Civic Dinner program is kicking into high gear. It’s easy to host or attend. You can learn more about breaking barriers while breaking bread here.

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