Between impactful, inspirational, and informative sessions and workshops, Network leaders shared best practices and toured Atlanta-area neighborhoods.
The three-day event concluded with small group discussions focused on defining the next era of the Purpose Built Network.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, alongside Purpose Built CEO Carol R. Naughton, welcomed Network Member leaders to the city and highlighted how his administration’s goals align with the Purpose Built Model. “My commitment for Atlanta actually aligns with the Purpose Built Communities vision that you have and your Network. Our plan encompasses housing, education, jobs, public safety, infrastructure, and sustainability initiatives,” said Mayor Dickens.
“If you’re going to have a great, quality neighborhood, you need to have great amenities. You need to have educational opportunities, you have to have workforce development, stable, affordable housing at various income levels; you’ve got to have transportation options and sustainability. All of these things matter.”
April Callen, Director of Racial Equity Programs at Purpose Built, moderated a panel discussion, “History, People, and Policy: Advancing Racial Equity Through Art, Culture, and Infrastructure,” featuring Network leaders Gavin McGuire (Grove Park in Atlanta), Elizabeth Wattley (Forest Forward in South Dallas) and Tonika Johnson, Chicago-based Social Justice Artist and Co-Founder of the Englewood Arts Collective.
Johnson also showcased her work that brings attention to historical, systemic racist policies such as land sale contracts which its effects can still be seen and felt today in many of Chicago’s Black and Latinx neighborhoods. Through projects like “Inequity for Sale,” “The Folded Map Project,” and more, Johnson blends art, history, social justice and racial healing to make a difference, promote racial healing, and to shift the narrative about Chicago’s Black communities.
Purpose Built Senior Vice President Michelle Matthews led a fireside chat with Dr. Valerie Montgomery Rice, President & CEO of Morehouse School of Medicine, on the power of partnerships in advancing health equity.
“When we talk about creating health equity, it’s not about Morehouse School of Medicine coming with all of the solutions and understanding all of the problems. It really works best and has more stickiness when it’s co-created,” said Montgomery Rice.
As a Purpose Built Network Member, the Community Quarterback organization, alongside community partners, centers the needs and priorities of legacy and new residents while keeping in mind the needs of future generations. Reflecting that commitment to centering residents, attendees learned more about the Flourishing Neighborhood Index (FNI) philosophy and process from Shawn Duncan of Focused Communities Strategies (FCS) in historic South Atlanta.
Duncan showcased how this tool collects holistic data for strategic impact. It’s not just about numbers, but it emphasizes co-organizing with residents to evaluate neighborhood health. The session concluded with a panel discussion featuring residents of the Historic South Atlanta neighborhood sharing more about their community experience.