W. Imara Canady (Board of Directors) Chosen as one of Georgia’s Best and Brightest “40 Under 40” by GA Trend Magazine, a ‘Person to Know” by Atlanta Magazine and a “Man of Distinction” by The Atlanta Tribune, W. Imara Canady recently joined the Atlanta Regional Office of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) as Area Development Director, over-seeing the fundraising operations of South Carolina and Tennessee in support of the office’s multi-million dollar goal to achieve the organization’s mission of assisting students to get to and through college. Prior to UNCF, he was a part of the executive leadership team for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, serving as Vice-President of Programming and Strategic Partnerships. Known as a “connector and bridge-builder” he worked with the CEO and Executive Vice-President, cultivating relationships and building collaborations that connected the center’s vision and mission with a broad array of local, national and international cultural, academic and community organizations and institutions, that led to the successful execution of the institutions historic groundbreaking in June 2012.
Imara returned to Atlanta, joining the staff of the Center, having spent time in Chicago, at the Chicago Community Trust, the nation’s second oldest community philanthropic organization, as 1 of 6 fellows, from a national candidate pool of 300 candidates, in a newly launched, arts and culture management fellowship program. As a part of this nationally acclaimed program, Imara worked with the Presidents/CEO’s and executive staff of Chicago’s leading cultural institutions developing individualized community and government relations strategies, while also managing grant funding from a $15 million art and culture budget. Before his time in Chicago, Imara had an impressive 15 year career in government that has taken him from Atlanta City Hall to The White House.
His career in government began in the late 90’s when he served as Special Projects Coordinator for former Atlanta Mayor William Campbell where he developed and managed youth programs and initiatives for the city. Immediately following his time with Mayor Campbell, he worked for the Office of Vice-President Al Gore and then as Budget Manager for Gore’s 2000 Presidential campaign, managing a multi-million dollar budget. Prior to moving to Chicago, he was a key aide to Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin serving as Special Assistant to the Mayor/Special Events Manager, after having served as Communications Director/Press Secretary for her successful historical election in 2001.
During his tenure in city government, Imara had many accomplishments including revamping the City’s special event permitting process, which resulted in a yearly increase in revenue generation of over a quarter of a million dollars, while decreasing the negative impact on community residents. He assisted former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin in the successful multi-million dollar fund-raising effort to secure the city’s purchase of the historic papers of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He worked with the State of Georgia and developed the preliminary process of the city’s current structure for supporting film projects, thus increasing the number of film, movie and television projects secured to shoot in Atlanta.
He has been a part of the leadership team of many key initiatives, including the Brand Atlanta marketing campaign, the blue ribbon committee that conceptualized the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau Diversity Committee, inaugural advisory board member and co-presenter of Cinema and Social Justice Sunday for the BronzeLens Film Festival and the development of a city wide Youth Ambassador program during the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Through his leadership, vision and ability to develop win-win partnerships and collaborations, he led the charge in attracting national entertainment related business to Atlanta, including the VIBE Music Festival, the BET Hip-Hop Awards and many others.
Imara has a strong passion for art and culture, that is exhibited through his work as a consultant for the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, a staff member with the Theatre and Dance Programs for the 1996 Cultural Olympiad of the Centennial Olympic Games, his many years of service to the National Black Arts Festival and the High Museum of Art Community Outreach committee and as a appointee by Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves to the Fulton County Arts Council. His service to his community is personified by his impressive fund-raising skills for many non-profit organizations as well as his membership on many boards including the National Black Public Relations Society, American Red Cross Minority Recruitment Board, Aid Atlanta, Alliance Theatre’s Advisory Board, Horizon Theatre Company Board, the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame Inaugural Advisory Committee, the Fund for Southern Communities, the Future Foundation, the Hammonds House Museum and Galleries, the Rialto Center for the Arts at Georgia State University, Atlanta Association of Black Journalists, Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, BronzeLens Film Festival and the Young Audiences of the Woodruff Arts Center Advisory Board. He is a member and former co-chair of the Black-Jewish Coalition of the American Jewish Committee – Atlanta Chapter, 2007 Class of Leadership Atlanta, 2005 Class of the MAACC Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta, the 1999 Class of the United Way Volunteer Involvement Program (V.I.P.) and Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. He has been featured in an array of national and regional media outlets including The Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Saporta Report, Encore Magazine, the Jewish Georgian, Upscale Magazine, Atlanta Magazine, WSB-TV, The Atlanta Tribune and Georgia Trend. He has received numerous awards and honors including being chosen as 1 of the 150 Future Leaders of America, an International Game Changer by the internationally acclaimed organization People to People, an Outstanding Atlantan in 2002, a National Comrade Awardee from the National Black HERstory Conference and a multi-year National Association of Black Journalist Salute to Excellence and Emmy award winner and/or nominated television producer for his work on the weekly public affairs program, In Contact.
Currently residing in the Grant Park community, Imara was raised in Atlanta, Georgia, graduated from Northside School of the Arts, though spent most of his early academic years at Woodward Academy. He received an Associates Degree in Journalism from Atlanta Metropolitan State College, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications with an emphasis on Public Relations and Broadcast Journalism from Georgia State University and is in the final stages of completing a Master’s Degree program focused on Philanthropy and Non-Profit Management. An active member of the Baha’i’ Faith, Imara lives his life in accordance to a quote from the Holy Writings that states “that service to humanity is like service to the Kingdom of God”.