COO Duriya Farooqui leaving City Hall for private sector; makes three big spots Reed needs to fill

Data-driven wonk played key role in stadium negotiations


Joining Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport General Manager Louis Miller out the door of City Hall: Atlanta Chief Operating Officer Duriya Farooqui. The city official tasked with leading Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration’s biggest initiatives and ironing out wrinkles in City Hall is leaving at the end of January to join the private sector.

The 37-year-old Lake Claire resident will join Bain and Company. Farooqui’s predecessor, Peter Aman, is a partner at the global consulting firm and took a leave of absence to serve as COO when Reed became mayor in 2010. Farooqui served as his deputy. She was named interim COO by the mayor in late 2011 and was awarded the job shortly thereafter.

Farooqui, who started under Mayor Shirley Franklin in 2007, is known as a data-driven policy wonk and is the youngest person and first Asian American to serve as city COO. She’s played a key role in many of the city’s high-profile initiatives over the last two years, most notably negotiations for the proposed Atlanta Falcons stadium and land deals with surrounding churches. She also helped open Hartsfield-Jackson Airport’s international terminal, craft the employee pension overhaul, and manage construction of the Downtown Streetcar between Centennial Olympic Park and the King Center. That’s in addition to other efforts that normally go unseen by the public, like tinkering with employee health-care programs, service delivery, and other municipal functions.

Most recently, she and deputy COO Hans Utz handled negotiations with over renewing the Atlanta Braves’ lease at Turner Field. Those conversations ended when the team unexpectedly decided to leave the city limits for Cobb County and a burlap sack filled with $300 million.

Reed praised her work as COO - in a statement, he said “her focus on delivering concrete results was a vital part of my Administration’s success during the past four years” - and said he was “proud of her accomplishments.”

Reed’s expected to announce Farooqui’s replacement after the new year. He’ll also need to fill vacancies left by former Communications Director Sonji Jacobs and Miller, who announced his retirement last week. Send your 140-character cover letters to @kasimreed on Twitter.