Dr. Jabari Simama
Dr. Jabari Simama has spent his entire professional life advocating for and working in behalf of the “least of these.” He has served as both an elected and public official working in local and state governments.
He has had a stellar, almost storybook-like, career in Atlanta after moving there in 1973 to attend then Atlanta University. He said, “I can remember on West Hunter Street, now Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr., I often ran into the Rev. Ralph D. Abernathy, the late NAACP head Julian Bond, the Rev. Hosea Williams, and Coretta Scott King, among others. These leaders were accessible and would take time to speak with a young 22-year old student from Columbia, Missouri. . . .Only in Atlanta, a Mecca of dreams that come true, could this actually have happened to a young man who grew-up in public housing and was raised by a single mom.”
Simama was to go on to serve as Atlanta City Councilman when former Ambassador Andrew Young was mayor and Hosea Williams was a colleague on the city council. Later he worked as communication director in the administration of Mayor Bill Campbell and a top official in the administration of Shirley Franklin, the first woman mayor of Atlanta.
Dr. Simama’s career began professionally in 1974 when he was hired as an instructor of English in the Humanities Division at Atlanta Junior College (now Atlanta Metropolitan State College). There, he had the privilege of working closely with the late Jean Young, wife of Andrew Young, and Gwen Crim, the wife of Atlanta’s first African American superintendent of public schools, Dr. Alonzo A. Crim.
Jabari’s career took him into areas he never thought he would go. For the local cable company, he built a network of community television studios that provided ordinary citizens an electronic soapbox to speak their truths. For the city of Atlanta, he established a network of community technology centers to bridge the digital divide before the cyber craze went viral.
He has logged over 20 years of higher education experience at both two-year and four-year colleges and universities, including six years as President of Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Simama held positions of increasing responsibilities at Atlanta Metropolitan State College, Clark Atlanta University, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), University of Cincinnati, Morgan State University, and Benedict College.
From 2005-2009, Dr. Jabari Simama served as Vice President for Community Development and External Relations at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. He also, simultaneously, served as Executive Assistant to the college’s president and chairman of a statewide consortium of technical colleges, universities, and state agencies desiring to interconnect via broadband. Associated with the consortium, he was instrumental in the South Carolina Technical College System’s winning a $3 million broadband grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
In addition to education, Dr. Simama served as an appointed member of the Metropolitan Atlanta Olympic Games Authority, which provided financial oversight for the Atlanta Olympic Games Committee’s $2 billion budget.
Dr. Simama earned his Ph.D. in American Studies from Emory University; his Master’s from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University) in African American Studies, and his Bachelor’s from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut in Secondary Education with specialization in English. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book: From Civil Rights to Cyber Rights (2009). For several years he wrote a weekly column for Creative Loafing and was a feature writer for Atlanta Magazine.
Dr. Simama and his wife, Nisha, are the parents of two adult daughters.