2019 ChooseATL Influencers Work to Tell Atlanta’s Story and Their Own
The story of metro Atlanta evolved over the course of decades to include everything from pioneering as a leader during the Civil Rights movement to uniting the rest of the nation as a transit hub that today includes networks of highways and the world’s most-traveled airport. This spirit of inventing, connecting, inspiring and thriving is built on the individuals that call Atlanta home.
ChooseATL, the initiative to attract and retain next-generation talent to Atlanta, recently welcomed the 2019 ChooseATL Influencers – the second annual grouping of young thought leaders shaping what it means to live, work and play in the city. This year’s class of influencers will be exposed to thought leaders and organizations around the city to share their own experiences and stories while serving as ambassadors to the region.
“Atlanta has become the necessary and sacred space where diverse talent can thrive and, aside from our unmatched culture, welcoming community and position as a top tech hub, it’s our talent that makes us unlike any other metro in the country,” said Ashley Cleveland, ChooseATL’s director of marketing and development and Influencer program leader.
The 2019 ChooseATL Influencer class includes Justin McLeod, Sneh Parmar, Satchel Jester, Adam Crawford, Tialer Scott, Emma Loggins, Anisa Breneé, Shirlynn Brownell, Ebone Shardae, Carlos Gonzalez, Juanita Velez and Stefanie Jewett. The group represents figures in music, film, radio, the arts community, economic development and more. The influencers recently had a chance to share their strengths and their views of Atlanta.
Brownell is director of economic development for the City of Brookhaven. With multiple years of experience in her field, she brings expertise and an eye for business development to the group. As next-generation talent, Brownell is also able to bring her perspective to bear on policies to bring positive change to communities.
“Atlanta is a place that doesn’t have just one silo, like music, film, etc. We have it all, and there’s really something here for everyone,” Brownell said.
Similarly, Jester brings a keen eye for the culture of Atlanta to the influencers. With experience as a writer and editor with UPTOWN Magazine and more, Jester travels to other cities and countries, bringing Atlanta’s story with him.
“There’s something about rebirth that registers in this city like no other,” Jester said. “Atlanta is rooted in the story of the phoenix rising from the ashes.”
The ChooseATL Influencer class is built on cultural diversity, with each member building on the representation, self-actualization and peer-to-peer communities valued by next-generation talent around the nation. Velez is the international social media strategist for Delta Air Lines with a passion for the global mindset of Atlanta.
“As an immigrant, you’re always trying to find your next opportunity. Coming to Atlanta on the day of the 1996 Olympics, I saw so much growth, not just in development, but also in diversity,” Velez said. “Opportunity is going to go further in Atlanta, and I know there will be a community behind me.”
Jewett is the founder and CEO of Activvely, an app that connects individuals looking for workout partners and more. She is committed to helping all Atlantans who come after her find the same supportive networks of individuals and resources.
“By taking part in programs like the ChooseATL Influencers – it gave me, someone with no background in tech, a chance to get connected and network with other professionals and to be introduced to groups for women,” Jewett said.
The ChooseATL Influencers’ first activation involved learning from a diverse body representing Atlanta’s pressing social issues and cultural strengths. Among these were showcases from the International Human Trafficking Institute, a look at Georgia State University’s Creative Media Industries Institute, viewing the Art of Atlanta curated by Renaldo Nehemiah at WISH Gallery, and a conversation with TechSquare Labs Director of Operations and Partnership Tanya Sam, hosted at Google.
“The universal language of tomorrow will be coding,” Sam said. “Just like in school when we learned Spanish as a second language, coding will take on that importance.”
The ChooseATL Influencers class will continue to serve their individual communities and Atlanta through their passion for the city. Parmar, CEO and founder of Parka Solutions and a previous TEDx speaker, has had the chance to work with some of the city’s most well-known startups, and he wants to expand that community even further.
“Finding people building their businesses and making more people aware of Atlanta is key. Atlanta, as a city, is behind you as a startup or incubator,” Parmar said.
For more information on the 2019 ChooseATL Influencers and the program itself, please reach out to Ashley Cleveland.