ATLANTA – Mayor Kasim Reed announced the appointment of Stephanie Stuckey Benfield as Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), a new position created to lead city-wide resilience building efforts to help the City of Atlanta prepare for, withstand, and bounce back from the ‘shocks’ – catastrophic events like hurricanes, fires, and floods – and ‘stresses’ – slow-moving disasters like water shortages, homelessness, and unemployment, which are increasingly part of 21st century life. As Chief Resilience Officer, Benfield will oversee the development and implementation of a comprehensive Resilience Strategy for the city.
Earlier this year, the City of Atlanta was chosen as one of the 100 Resilient Cities 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.
“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.”
Appointing a CRO is an essential element of the City of Atlanta’s resilience building partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation. The 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) organization is part of a $164M commitment by The Rockefeller Foundation to build urban resilience in 100 cities around the world. The city’s engagement with 100 Resilient Cities kicked off in September with a “Resilience Agenda-Setting Workshop.” The position will be fully funded by 100RC.
Prior to joining the City of Atlanta, 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.
“Cities are where resilience is put into action. Thanks to Mayor Reed’s leadership, Atlanta is broadening our efforts beyond sustainability to tackle the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century,” said Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, Chief Resilience Officer. “As Chief Resilience Officer, I’ll be working to unite people, projects, and priorities to drive action on the critical stresses and shocks our City faces, such as aging infrastructure, economic opportunity, food scarcity and transportation. I’m excited about this new opportunity and am ready to get to work.”
The CRO is an innovative feature of 100RC’s resilience building program, specifically designed to 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.
“Stephanie Stuckey Benfield joins a network of peers from cities across the globe that will share best practices and surface innovative thinking,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “She will become a global leader in resilience, and will be an asset for the City of Atlanta and other cities around the world.”
The City of Atlanta is currently working on a number of resilience projects including:
- Converting the former Bellwood Quarry into a 30-day water supply for residents and businesses.
- Proposing a special purpose local option sales tax for transportation to generate approximately $300 million over a five-year period to fund significant and expansive transportation projects citywide.
- Hiring the first-ever urban agriculture director who works to bring local, healthy food within a half-mile of 75 percent of all Atlanta residents by year 2020.
- Implementing the Renew Atlanta bond program to conduct $250 million of infrastructure improvements.
- Adopting an affordable-housing ordinance that will reserve a percentage of housing throughout the City and on the Atlanta BeltLine for working families.
Stephanie 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.
About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation
100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org.