February 14, 2000
Volume 52, No. 21
Jacquelyn Anthony: Emory's new community voice speaks
By Eric Rangus
Just like the title implies, Emory's director of community affairs is the point person regarding the University's relationship with its neighbors, as well as the greater Atlanta area. The relationship is one that is occasionally prickly. However, Emory may have found the ideal person for the job in Jacquelyn Anthony, who took on the role Jan. 3.
"Community service has always been important to me; I know that sounds trite, but I think it's very true,"Anthony said. "There are a lot of people who 'have,' and I think they have a responsibility to those who 'have not.' The least of these will always be among us, but we do have a responsibility to make their plight a little easier to bear."
"She's a calm, deliberate and thoughtful person," said Betty Willis of Anthony. Willis held Anthony's position from 1996 until she was promoted to associate vice president for governmental and community affairs late last year.
"She's not one to jump quickly to decisions," Willis said. "There are times when all our emotions can be tried. She doesn't get rattled easily, which will be a wonderful attribute."
This marks more of a return to the University for Anthony than anything else. She worked with The America Project at The Carter Center from 1994 through last August, when the program ceased to be funded. In January 1998 she was named that program's director.
The America Project took the goals of The Atlanta Project (TAP)--urban renewal and community building--and shared them with other organizations and communities.
Anthony said that one of the best legacies of TAP is the "corporate partnership model," involving large corporations providing resources to help communities face hard times and get back on their feet. This worked quite well since so many businesses saw the benefits such actions could produce.
"Corporations have realized that they have a responsibility to give back to communities-and giving back does not necessarily mean money," Anthony said. "It can mean time; it can mean a variety of resources in terms of employees and project building. It can be things that are intangible."
In her five weeks on the job, Anthony has already dove into some major community issues involving Emory. Some of her initial responsibilities include working with MARTA concerning transportation issues, meeting with Emory's neighbors to discuss growth, working with the DeKalb County Commission, involving herself with Emory's ties to Grady Hospital and improving Emory's relationships with Fulton County and the city of Atlanta.
While all those projects are important, there's a certain delicacy to Emory's growth issues, something Anthony is fully aware of. "Emory has this image of being the 800-pound gorilla. If Emory wants to get something done, then Emory gets it done," Anthony said about some people's perceptions of the University.
"But we are in a neighborhood, and we have to work with [our neighbors] on a daily basis. We have to talk with them openly and honestly about what Emory envisions for itself and the surrounding community." Its responsibility to be neighborly is something Emory takes seriously, Anthony said.
According to Willis, Anthony is an ideal person to tackle these issues. "She's developed some wonderful relationships with community leaders who are involved in issues we're concerned about," Willis said. "She's got a great political sense. She knows how to build consensus and partnerships."
A native of Michigan but raised in Atlanta, Anthony earned her bachelor's degree at Spelman College, then her master's and Ph.D. at Georgia State. She was the youngest African-American woman to earn a doctorate in political science at GSU.
She got her first taste of community service while a student at DeKalb's Gordon High School (now McNair Junior High School). She participated in a program called Detrash DeKalb, which was exactly what the name implies; Anthony and other students, picked up garbage along county roads.
And that was just the beginning. While in college, she volunteered to work for political campaigns, eventually earning an internship with then-U.S. Rep. Wyche Fowler. She participated in service campaigns through both her church and her college sorority, worked with the elderly and even found time to be a Girl Scout troop leader. She has sat on the board of the DeKalb County unit of the American Cancer Society. Anthony also chaired the Partners for Life Coalition, a community education project to increase African-American women's awareness of breast and cervical cancer--Anthony herself is a breast cancer survivor.
Anthony is also on the steering committee of the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition, an organization that strives to bring African Americans and Jews together to discuss the commonalities and differences in the groups' heritages.
Anthony credits her mom, Jacquelwyn Willis Anthony, an educator and real estate broker, for instilling a strong sense of community awareness in both her and her younger sister, Janine, who is an attorney. For 10 years the family volunteered at the Peachtree Road Race; they also fed the hungry with Hosea Williams at Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"One of the misperceptions I've heard is that Emory doesn't give back enough," Anthony said when asked about her short-term goals. Her thought is that people at the University do give quite a lot back to the community-recognition is just low. That's why she hopes to put together a community partnership directory to highlight faculty, staff and student community activities. There is a web page outlining this information, but Anthony hopes to compile it in a printed book or manual.
Dealing with people's perceptions about the University will be one of Anthony's biggest efforts at Emory. "It's extremely difficult to deal with people's perceptions, good, bad or indifferent, because they are real," she said. "You've just got to do a lot of communicating, a lot of sharing and a lot of dialogue. You have to be fair and honest. You can't hide anything under the rug."