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HomeNewsLocal newsFormer Mayor of Atlanta to Speak at UVI Commencement Ceremonies

Former Mayor of Atlanta to Speak at UVI Commencement Ceremonies

Keisha Lance Bottoms, the former mayor of Atlanta who previously served as senior advisor and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, will be the keynote speaker at UVI’s 60th Commencement Ceremonies.

Keisha Lance Bottoms (Submitted photo)
Keisha Lance Bottoms (Submitted photo)

The event will take place on May 9 at the Orville E. Kean Campus on St. Thomas and on May 10 at the Albert A. Sheen Campus on St. Croix. Both ceremonies will commence at 1 p.m.

Lance Bottoms’ unique background includes serving in all three branches of government: as a judge, city council member, and mayor, marking a first in Atlanta’s history, the university noted in a press release. Her tenure as mayor, starting Jan. 2, 2018, spanned critical periods including a global pandemic and a racial justice movement in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, positioning her as a key voice on urban challenges and opportunities in the U.S. She is widely respected for integrating equitable outcomes into government and commerce, it said.

During her leadership, despite the pandemic-induced economic downturn, Lance Bottoms delivered four years of balanced budgets without increasing property taxes, laying off city employees, or implementing furloughs, maintaining city reserves at $181 million, according to the release. Her administration was marked by significant achievements in enhancing Atlanta’s resilience and economic growth, including a monumental real estate deal — known as the Gulch development — contributing millions in community benefits and attracting nine Fortune 500 company headquarters, significantly boosting the local economy and job market.

Lance Bottoms spearheaded initiatives to address systemic issues and improve city living standards, such as transforming the city’s jail into a diversion center, eliminating cash bail for non-violent offenders, and increasing affordable housing units by over 7,000. She also emphasized diversity and inclusion in government, including establishing the city’s first fully staffed Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and appointing an LGBTQ Affairs Coordinator and a Human Trafficking Fellow.

Lance Bottoms also established new police and fire stations, and tackled historical inequities, with reforms that included body cameras being worn by United State Justice Officers executing warrants and planned arrests, the release stated. Amid America’s migrant crisis, she also declared Atlanta a “welcoming city,” in 2018 signing an executive order forbidding the city jail to hold Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainees, noting that is the role of the U.S. Marshals Service.

“We are thrilled that Ms. Lance Bottoms has accepted the invitation to address our graduates at UVI’s 2024 Commencement Ceremonies,” said UVI President David Hall, who will be presiding over his final commencement after 15 years of service to the university.  “Her presence and invaluable insights will undoubtedly inspire and empower the graduating Class of 2024. It has always been our goal at UVI to bring to our students, leaders that are change makers, whose understanding of the democratic process allows them to make positive change that impacts thousands.”

Recognizing her dedication to equity-driven leadership and her efforts to guide and protect marginalized communities, Lance Bottoms was honored with the Distinguished Civil Rights Advocate Award by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. She was also named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year and was named a member of Ebony Magazine’s prestigious Power 100 List. She has also been honored as a BET 100 Entertainer and Innovator of the Year and was named the Smart Cities Dive’s 2020 Leader of the Year.

A product of Atlanta public schools, Lance Bottoms graduated from Frederick Douglass High School and received her undergraduate degree from Florida A&M University. She earned her juris doctorate from Georgia State University College of Law. She is the daughter of R&B icon Major Lance and Sylvia Robinson and is married to Derek Bottoms. She is the proud parent of four children.

For more information about the University of the Virgin Islands 60th commencement ceremony, visit www.uvi.edu.

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