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Tech, Talent and Transformation: Mayor Andre Dickens’ Vision For Atlanta’s Future

Andre Dickens

Mayor Maynard Jackson's historic tenure as the first Black Mayor of Atlanta marked an important moment in the city's history, symbolizing progress, inclusivity and the breaking of barriers. His leadership laid the groundwork for the next generations, evident in figures like the current Mayor Andre Dickens, who, 50 years later, embodies a continuation of Jackson's legacy.

Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Mayor Dickens wants to propel his home state forward in unprecedented ways. Two years into his role as the 61st Mayor of Atlanta, the father of one focuses on not leaving anyone behind, as his mission to enhance the lives of the people of Atlanta and the business of Atlanta has taken center stage. Upon being invited into the Mayor's office, we witnessed the hustle required to achieve what Dickens has accomplished throughout his illustrious career. From his success in engineering to his entrepreneurial endeavors with his company City-Living Home Furnishing, Dickens’ journey can be attributed to having the smarts as well as heart to make his wildest dreams come true. And the Mayor expects those he selects on his team to have those same attributes. 

“You have to have head and heart,” Dickens says about the qualifications to come aboard Team Andre Dickens. “You have to have both. You have to be competent but you also have to be able to relate and work for the people and the city of Atlanta,” he goes on to explain. “You need to have a heart for people. You need to be compassionate, and empathetic but also intellectual and capable of doing your job.” 

Andre Dickens

The heart is what made Dickens a popular figure in politics. One of his most important contributions to the city while on the City Council was his sponsorship of legislation that made the minimum wage for city employees $15 an hour. The then-at-large City Council member created the Department of Transportation, the BeltLine Inclusionary Zoning, which increased affordable housing in the area, and the Atlanta Youth Commission. Leading with his heart has been shaped in the form of Dickens committing more than $100 million to Atlanta’s single-housing investment, the largest ever.

“What I’m most proud of is my work with affordable housing and housing for the homeless. Trying to make sure that people have a quality of life. Safe, warm and affordable in the city,” the Georgia Institute of Technology alum says. The investment into housing isn’t just more political theatrics. Within the first two years under Dickens’ administration, Atlanta has seen 3,300 units of affordable housing built and another 5,000 currently in development. 

To enhance the city of Atlanta it also takes a keen intellectual to make the right decisions even if they are difficult to make. Dickens also exemplifies what leadership means in every sense. The Mayor knows the realities our communities face. Instead of using our social illnesses as talking points on campaign trails or during news programs, Dickens has used his smarts to work on the issues all while letting his heart lead the way. 

“I am also very proud of my public safety record and bringing down violent crime and making sure that we are down in homicides and other crimes that plagued our community through the pandemic,” Dickens explains. “I stepped in and made sure that we use a balanced approach to safety and justice, to make sure we keep our kids busy. Keep them busy with jobs and after-school programs so that they don’t resort to violence, gangs and drugs.”

The track record is there. In 2023, preliminary police data showed violent crime was down 18 percent and homicides were down 22 percent compared to the previous year. Sexual assaults plummeted 49 percent and aggravated assaults were down 16 percent in what many consider the Black Mecca. His decisions to sponsor the city's first-ever investment in early childhood education and the creation of a Nightlife Division to combat establishments with a history of violent crime have led Atlanta to this pivotal moment.

Andre Dickens

Dickens' leadership philosophy has encountered challenges, particularly when “balancing approach of safety and justice.” The Mayor faced harsh criticism for his support for the city's funding of the construction of a controversial police and fire department training center, dubbed "Cop City" by environmentalists and community activists. The debate over the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center has been ongoing. The $90 million facility is intended for specialized training for both law enforcement and fire department service workers.

The outcry stems from what many Black men and women witness daily: the weaponization of the police force and police brutality. Still, the training facility is said to reimagine law enforcement training, catapulting APD and Atlanta Fire Rescue to the vanguard of major urban law enforcement agencies. The new training is also said to focus on cultural awareness, community knowledge and the variety of citizen concerns that modern policing in a diverse city requires of an effective and trusted law enforcement agency.

However, despite the criticism, the member of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc., has not let it sway his vision for Atlanta. Perhaps being a father to daughters has helped the 49-year-old become an effective leader.

“To get her to this stage in life where she can make her own decisions, I’ve moved from dad to coach but still dad,” he says about his 19-year-old daughter, who is currently a freshman in college. “I get to help her make quality decisions in her life… and then when she needs a little extra piece of information, insight, she calls on me.” 

Just as being a great father takes introspection and reflection, so does being a great leader, and in Dickens’ case, he also knows that it takes innovation and focus on the future. “The same things I do with my daughter… taking my time and making sure that I’m steadfast in my decision-making and giving her room to grow is the same thing I do with the city of Atlanta,” Dickens explains about how he is running the city through success and criticism. Allowing the people of Atlanta to also grow and come around to his decisions, all for the betterment of the city they all love. 

Andre Dickens

Being steadfast has also led Dickens to help Atlanta be at the forefront of what he calls a “technological revolution.” With the advancement of technology happening quickly, the Black community is aligning themselves in a position of adaptation, hoping not to miss out on jobs and career opportunities. Coming from a technology background, Dickens understands the importance of educating the community on adapting to the times. 

“We have to remind everybody that every job right now uses technology. We are in a technological revolution, over and over again, and it’s not stopping. Whether you are in medicine, communications, media, and even construction, everyone needs to know that they have to be open to it and adapt to the growing trends and technology,” Dickens says.

With technology companies flocking to Atlanta recognizing the talent pool that our HBCUs have and those who are keeping up with technology in other ways, the Mayor wants to make sure our community is taking advantage of the changing times. “My job is to make sure that not only do we grow our technology, and the technological landscape, but we have balanced growth. That we make sure that our minority communities, disenfranchised and women, also have a role in it.”

From education and outreach, Dickens has committed to Atlanta’s tech hub, going as far as appointing Donald Beamer, Jr. as the City’s first-ever Senior Tech Advisor. 

Andre Dickens

The Tech Advisor serves as the Mayor’s chief liaison to the technology sector and assists with shaping the Mayor’s policy. Beamer also works with Invest Atlanta to attract new tech firms, helps grow existing companies and startups and advises the Administration on fostering Atlanta’s technology workforce. 

The fire to continue Atlanta’s elevation and success can be traced back to Dickens being raised and building his life in Atlanta. The groundbreaking politician has shown that new voices, new ideas and new energy belong in the political arena, especially during a time when "how old is too old to" is a hot topic in politics. 

“It was my dream at 16 years old to become the mayor of Atlanta,” Dickens says about his young ambition. “I saw the Mayor when I was 12… around 16, I said, ‘I want to be Mayor of Atlanta. So for the rest of my life, I will introduce myself as Andre Dickens. I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. I am a chemical engineering major, and I’m going to be Mayor one day.’” 

With his youthfulness and a vision intact, Dickens is ready to see the younger generation step up in the political space to continue effecting the necessary changes in our communities and beyond. “Rather it is a county commissioner, a city councilperson... may it be a legislator in the Senate, in the Senate or Congress, even president… you should state it, share it, and then go for it,” Dickens advises. 

“I think social media and all the spotlight has made people afraid... but I think people are voting about your competence and your heart and your ability to lead. No matter your past. Real is recognizing real right now. We need genuine people in political office. So young people should be the heart and lifeblood of our future.”

Check out the full interview.

Stylist: Brian Short for Hideoki Bespoke

Creative Director: BYoung Agency

Graphic Designer: LS Design Media Group


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