Event at Atlanta BeltLine Inc. celebrates outgoing cohort of Fellows and welcomes new class
The offices of the Atlanta BeltLine, itself a model of innovation, was the perfect spot to celebrate the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation’s (Partnership) PIN Fellowship, with an opening ceremony event that kicked off the Fellowship’s second year in operation, recognized the work of the outgoing class, and welcomed the next cohort into the program.
Kara Lively, director of economic development for Atlanta BeltLine Inc., welcomed people to the offices and the event and discussed why she views the PIN Fellowship program as important to the BeltLine.
“A big part of why we’re a part of this initiative is our last pillar is innovation, specifically around smart cities and digital equity,” Lively said. “We want to be a testing ground for innovation in our city and a place where we can help grow the next generation of our workforce.”
“We define inclusive innovation as increasing access and opportunities for everyone to innovate,” Debra Lam, the Partnership’s executive director, said. “That innovation is not just an end state, but a real way to make the change that we want to see in terms of improving the human condition.”
The PIN Fellowship program supports that mission by working to identify and empower the next generation of innovative leaders in Georgia and the Southeast. The Fellowship places early career professionals into two public-private sector, six-month rotations that support corporate/startup and public/nonprofit projects in the same industry (AI manufacturing, IT/cybersecurity, cleantech, and supply chain). The projects are dedicated to advancing innovation and technology, while furthering economic opportunity for the Fellows themselves.
The program started in 2023, with two cohorts of Fellows working for companies and organizations including Cox Enterprises, the Atlanta BeltLine Inc., Georgia Tech, Park Pride, Freudenberg NOK, Microsoft, Fulton County government, and others.
The PIN Fellowship opening ceremony provided an opportunity for the first Fellows, who graduated from the program in 2023, to share their experiences and give advice to incoming Fellows.
“I would say the best thing about the PIN Fellowship was that we were able to get so many different experiences within a one-year period,” Sruthi Kumar, a Fellowship alum, said. Kumar worked at Cox Enterprises and Georgia Tech.
Following her Fellowship, Cox hired Kumar as part of its LEAD program, a rotational, leadership development program that introduces young professionals to different departments within the company. It’s a position she says she would not have gotten without the PIN Fellowship.
“The PIN fellows that we’ve had [at Cox], have really supported our fundamental programs on recycling and reducing our carbon footprint,” said Clarence Jackson, senior director of sustainable supply chain and business operations at Cox. “We’ve worked hard to get them involved and to support our programs directly.”
Noah McQueen, another Fellowship alum, worked last year at Microsoft and at the Atlanta BeltLine. “The most beneficial thing I believe about the PIN Fellowship is we got a chance to grow and explore and develop as young leaders in a professional space,” McQueen said. “I love the diversity of the public and private experience. You get the full scope of all the things that you can do in your career and the possible avenues you can take.”
Isaac Harper, a member of the incoming Fellowship cohort, will work with Cox Enterprises and the Georgia Water Coalition on a project near Augusta, Georgia.
“I wanted to be part of the PIN Fellowship for the learning opportunities that it provides,” Harper said. “I think coming here as an immigrant from New Zealand, as someone who’s already graduated, I missed a lot of that pipeline that somebody local would have access to. Trying to build a network over here is a goal. And I think PIN is going to help me with that.”
The incoming cohort has three Fellows who will be working with the following employers:
- James Gathings Jr. – Atlanta BeltLine and Honeywell
- Isaac Harper – Cox Enterprises and Georgia Water Coalition
- Israel Todd – Park Pride and Cox Enterprises
Learn more about the Fellowship and the workforce development pillar at pingeorgia.org.