Global Advisory Panel 2017-06-12T13:44:57+00:00

Engaging Metro Atlanta’s International Community in Regional Planning

In January 2017, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the region’s long-term planning agency, sent an invitation to the region’s international community seeking people who would be interested in participating in a Global Advisory Panel. The panel is part of ARC’s New Voices initiative, which aims to bring new voices into planning for the Atlanta region’s future. We want to ensure that the region’s dynamic, vibrant global community is well-represented in the agency’s regional planning discussions.

Why form a Global Advisory Panel?

The Atlanta region is growing more international and more diverse every year. Consider the following numbers:

  • In 1990, the region had just 100,000 foreign-born residents.
  • By 2015, the population had grown to 700,000 foreign-born residents, making up 15.57 percent of the region’s population.
  • In 2014, the latest year we have data for, immigrants spent an estimated $15 billion in the Atlanta region and paid $5.5 billion in taxes.

The global community is changing the way the region looks and sounds, and it is a significant driver of our economy. This social and economic impact will continue to grow as the foreign-born population becomes an ever more important part of Atlanta’s regional community and its increasingly diverse workforce.

Want to know more? Take a look at the data about metro Atlanta’s global community.

The Purpose of the Global Advisory Panel is to:

The Global Advisory Panel is supported by a community-driven leadership team.

The Panel

In March 2017, 150+ panel members were chosen from throughout the Atlanta region to serve on the panel. Panel members were invited to join a Facebook group where they could begin to get to know each other and share news and events.

These are the countries represented by Global Advisory Panel members:

The Conversation

Global Advisory Panel members had their first meetup in March of 2017. Participants had time to meet and mingle before they were seated in discussion groups to address three questions. Participants moved to a new table with a new group for each question. The discussion questions were intended to start a conversation about building welcoming, inclusive communities. The questions were:

  1. What does inclusion mean to you?
  2. Have you ever felt welcomed or unwelcomed by a community? Tell us about one time.
  3. What is one thing your community can do to make it more welcoming and inclusive in regards to mobility or livability or prosperity?

Responses gathered during the evening were used to determine the topics for upcoming Global Advisory Panel Civic Dinners.

After the first meetup, Global Advisory Panel members were asked to complete ARC’s Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey. This annual survey asks metro Atlantans how they feel about the region they call home. Watch the video to the right to see what regional participants had to say in the 2016 survey, and then view the Global Advisory Panel survey results to see how the responses from the global community compare to the rest of the region.

Civic Dinners

Civic Dinners are designed to bring people together for food, companionship and conversations that matter. In a group of six – ten guests, civic dinner participants are asked three big questions. As the guests respond to the three questions, they engage in an evening of guided conversation on a topic that they care about. Learn more about Civic Dinners and the art of conversation.

#InclusiveATL Global Advisory Panel Civic Dinners

From June through August, Global Advisory Panel members will host and attend a series of #InclusiveATL civic dinners organized around the topics of Mobility, Livability and Prosperity. The InclusiveATL hashtag will be used to unite social media posts from the dinners around the idea of building a region where everyone feels welcome and included. The purpose of these dinners is to engage a growing community in the panel’s conversations about our region and its future and to record their stories and ideas for ARC. A timeline for the #InclusiveATL dinners is shown above. The first series of dinners will be organized around the topic of mobility.

How to host an #InclusiveATL Civic Dinner

During the month of June 2017, the Global Advisory Panel will hold its first series of civic dinner parties on the topic of #Mobility. A webinar on how to host a civic dinner party is shown below, along with a host guide for the dinners on #Mobility:


New Voices is an ARC initiative that seeks to engage residents in the Atlanta region who have not previously participated in public outreach for regional planning. The purpose is to involve new communities in ARC’s planning and encourage them to share their views and aspirations for the region’s future. We hope that these new voices will continue to be engaged and active participants in the civic life of the Atlanta region.

At the end of the year, a publication detailing the Global Advisory Panel’s insights, experiences and calls to action will be presented to ARC board members, state and local elected officials, nonprofit leaders and business executives. The Global Advisory Panel’s association with ARC will not end when the year is up. Your voices will become a valued part of ARC’s leadership community, and you will have opportunities to engage in a range of regional planning activities in the coming years.

A Civic Dinner is really simple. It’s all about bringing different voices to the table, asking three big questions and allowing everyone equal time to share with one voice at a time. The conversation topic may vary from dinner to dinner, but the basic structure and the simple Host Guide make it easy for hosts to bring together guests for meaningful conversations over food.

The #IncluseATL dinners have a threefold purpose. First, by bringing people together, the dinners can help build relationships among the global communities in the Atlanta region. Second, feedback from the conversations will help ARC learn about the challenges, needs and opportunities facing global communities in the region. And lastly, ideas that emerge from these conversations will help ARC develop better community engagement strategies for including more global voices in future regional planning activities.

Hosting a Civic Dinner is fun! Whether you host at home or at a restaurant, alone or with a friend, bringing people together for meaningful conversation is a rewarding experience. Hosts don’t need to be experts on the topic for the evening. They just follow the simple host guide to get the conversations started. Every dinner will be interesting and unique because of the people and perspectives at the table.

No. Members of the Global Advisory Panel will start the first round of #InclusiveATL Civic Dinners, but we hope the dinners will spread beyond the panel and we encourage anyone that is interested to host. Our goal is to hear from every global community living and working in the Atlanta region. Just be sure to post your dinner on Civicdinners.com and follow the Host Guide for your dinner’s topic. We will send out a survey to follow-up with your guests so that their stories and perspectives will be collected and shared with ARC.

Civic dinner conversations are great when there is a range of people and perspectives around the table, so invite your friends, neighbors, work colleagues, school or church friends or people from any other network. The dinners are not exclusive to the ARC Global Advisory Panel, so feel free to bring more global voices to your dinner. You can invite specific people or you can open your invite to social networks, work and neighborhood groups or to people on Civicdinners.com.

You can host a dinner at home or at a restaurant. For dinners at a restaurant, make sure that the restaurant has a table where everyone will be able to hear when each person is sharing.

No. Typically during a Civic Dinner, guests will pay for their own meals at a restaurant or bring a dish to share for a potluck at someone’s home. If a host prefers to prepare the full meal, however, they may ask guests to contribute to the cost of the meal. It is up to the host to set the menu, pick the restaurant and determine how payment will work.

No. Some members of the Global Advisory Panel have expressed interest in hosting all three #InclusiveATL dinners, and that is great! Our goal is to have every member of the panel host or co-host at least one dinner. If you host more than one dinner, try to bring different voices to the table for each dinner. Our goal is to have a total of 150 dinners that reach out to as many people as possible.

Typically, a Civic Dinner with 6-10 guests allows for enough different perspectives to make the conversation interesting and gives everyone a chance to be heard. When you create your dinner on Civicdinners.com, you can set the maximum number of guests, including yourself, that works for you. If you can only fit 4 or 5 people at your dining table at home, that is fine. And, if you want to have a large dinner with 20+ guests, that is fine, too. For larger dinners, you should have one designated host to follow the conversation guide for every 10 people.

After every Civic Dinner, guests and hosts will receive an email with a link to a survey where they can share their thoughts about the experience and their ideas and stories. The survey will include questions similar to those asked at the dinner and may ask followup questions for specific topics that directly inform planning at ARC. We encourage the host or a designated volunteer to take notes to capture key ideas that emerge from the dinner. The notes and survey results from the dinners will be compiled into a report for ARC to share with their board and regional leaders.