Atlanta, meet your new Chief Resilience Officer

ATLANTA - The physical, economical, and social challenges that once impacted Atlanta ultimately shaped the city into what it is today.  In response to the obstacles that face us in 2016 and beyond, Mayor Kasim Reed has appointed Stephanie Stuckey Benfield as the city’s first Chief Resilience Officer. The role has many residents curious about the latest city official. Here is what you need to know: 

So what is a Chief Resilience Officer?
So Benfield’s role is part of 100 Resilient Cities, an initiative created by the Rockefeller Fund (100RC) for selected cities around the world.  The City of Atlanta was chosen from more than 325 applicants, spanning more than 90 countries across six continents, and was selected on the basis of the city's willingness, ability, and need to become resilient in the face of future challenges like hurricanes, fires, and floods. The role will also take on water shortages, homelessness, and unemployment.

What makes the role of Chief Resilience Officer different than other positions?
Atlanta’s CRO is being paid by 100RC.  Benfield will receive personnel and technical support provided by 100RC; and utilize resilience building tools from private, public, academic, and NGO sector organizations that have partnered with 100RC. The City of Atlanta’s Resilience Strategy will be a holistic, action-oriented blueprint to build partnerships and alliances, financing mechanisms, and will pay particular attention to meeting the needs of vulnerable populations.

The CRO will break down existing barriers at the local level, account for pre-existing resilience plans, and create partnerships, alliances and financing mechanisms that will address the resilience vulnerabilities of all city residents, with a particular focus on low-income and vulnerable populations.


What makes Benfield a qualified candidate for the role?
Benfield served as a State Representative for 14 years, during which time she was a member of the Judiciary and Natural Resources Committees. She also serves on the Boards for the Green Chamber of the South, the Olmsted Linear Parks Alliance and Earthshare of Georgia, and is a member of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership Class of 2013. Benfield currently serves as the Director of Sustainability. In her new role, Benfield will continue to assist with the management, implementation and development of existing sustainability projects including the Proctor Creek Greenway Trail. Mayor Reed will appoint a new Sustainability Director who will report to the Chief Resilience Officer.

“Stephanie Stuckey Benfield is uniquely positioned and qualified to serve as our Chief Resilience Officer and I am confident that she is best person to establish a resilience vision and plan for our City,” said Mayor Reed. “Since joining the City, Stephanie has lead and implemented programs and initiatives which have elevated the City of Atlanta as a global leader in sustainability. Stephanie was also instrumental in securing our position as a 100 Resilient Cities member. Under her leadership and engagement with stakeholders, experts and 100 RC staff, the City of Atlanta is poised to take the next step in its resilience planning.”

What should I expect next?
You can expect to see more changes from several resilience projects that the city is currently working on.  This includes adopting an affordable-housing ordinance that will reserve a percentage of housing for working families, hiring the first-ever urban agriculture director, and proposing a special purpose local option sales tax for transportation to generate approximately $300 million over a five-year period.


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