Terri Lee top choice to become CEO of Atlanta Housing

The search committee for a new CEO of Atlanta Housing has picked Terri Lee, the agency’s chief operating officer, to be the next leader.

Terri Lee

The board of Atlanta Housing is expected to approve Lee as the new CEO during its next board meeting scheduled for Jan. 24. She will succeed Eugene Jones, who announced his intention to resign in September after serving as CEO since October 2019. Jones agreed to stay on board until a new CEO was named.

Lee became Atlanta Housing’s COO in October 2020, after serving as the city’s chief housing officer. 

At the time, Jones said he had waited a year to find the “right” person to be his No.  2.

Terri Lee with Eugene Jones at an event in September (Photo by Maria Saporta)

“She will be a key part of our senior leadership team, fusing and managing affordable housing projects throughout Atlanta,” he said in a statement. “My patience has paid off. What a dynamic duo we will be.”

The prevalent sentiment at Atlanta Housing was that Jones had been grooming Lee so she could step in as his successor if she were to be the committee’s choice.

“Terri Lee is an exceptional leader with a long and distinguished career in affordable housing. Her extensive knowledge of housing policy, operations, and a deep connection to residents and love for Atlanta make her the right person at the right time to lead Atlanta Housing,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement.“Both I and members of my administration look forward to working closely with her to accelerate my goal of building and preserving 20,000 units of affordable housing in eight years.

The authority conducted a national search before deciding Lee was the best candidate.

Duriya Farooqui, an Atlanta Housing board member, chaired the search committee, which included many community leaders. Atlanta Housing is slated to deliver 10,000 of the mayor’s goal to add 20,000 units.

“The process was competitive, and more than one candidate met with the mayor,” Farooqui said a text exchange Tuesday evening. “Every search committee member participated in interviews including over holiday weekends.”

During the search process, Atlanta Housing Chair Larry Stewart said his hope was to bring on someone who understood the lay of the land and would not need to spend time to get to know the community.

“We need a CEO who understands Atlanta, understands our position in this affordability challenge, and someone who is ready to meet the moment,” Stewart said at the time. “It is an expectation of mine and the board that we want our next CEO to be a leader in affordability for the entire city.”

Lee certainly has a deep knowledge of housing in Atlanta, having worked with the multiple players in the city’s “housing ecosystem.”

A native of Mississippi, Lee spent 14 years in leadership positions in Atlanta’s Department of City Planning before being appointed as the city’s first chief housing officer. In that tole, Lee galvanized five city housing agencies to collaboratively produce thousands of affordable units deploying nearly $1 billion in public funds. 

In other civic roles, Lee has served as a board member of the Freddie Mac National Affordable Housing Council, Trees Atlanta, Urban Land Institute Advisory Board, Rebuilding Together Atlanta and the Atlanta Collaborative Land Trust. More recently, Lee was named co-chair of HouseATL along with Alan Ferguson, president and CEO of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity.

Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from Grambling State University and a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree from Jackson State University – both HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities).


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