Qaadirah Abdur-Rahim 11EMBA is the change she wants to see in the world. Despite growing up in a failing public school district near Atlanta, Abdur-Rahim fought hard for her degree at UC Berkeley and went on to secure two separate master’s degrees. While her educational journey prepared her for many possible career paths, Abdur-Rahim has always felt a calling to return to her roots and invest in communities that need her. After receiving her master’s in sports and fitness management at the University of San Francisco, she came back to Atlanta to help kids like her. As CEO of Future Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 2001 by her NBA-star brother, Abdur-Rahim has helped thousands of Atlanta-area teens reach their education goals.
“I expanded Future Foundation from an after-school program serving a dozen kids to an organization reaching more than 4,000,” she says. “I grew its revenue from $230,000 to $2 million. And it gets great results: 100 percent of the Foundation’s participants graduate high school—compared to an average 70 percent graduation rate for the schools we work in.”
Ever searching for how she can do more, Abdur-Rahim pursued her MBA at Goizueta while running the Foundation. “The MBA helped me apply the technology-fueled value creation occurring in for-profit industries to the nonprofit sector,” she says. Abdur-Rahim wants to disrupt the cycle of poverty globally, but she’s willing to start in her own backyard.
In November 2020, she seized a new opportunity to effect positive change for her community: she is the City of Atlanta’s new chief equity officer and executive director of One Atlanta (#OneAtlanta). “Together with city leaders, departments, and partners, we are developing policies and programs that confront equity, diversity, and inclusion issues. With every initiative, we move towards solving big issues like housing affordability, healthcare, transportation, education, sustainability, and criminal justice reform,” says Abdur-Rahim.
While the pandemic created plenty of challenges, the American Rescue Plan represents a valuable financial opportunity that she is excited to leverage. “Our office is uniquely positioned to ensure this funding lives up to and is used in a way that’s equitable and reaches diversity goals. We will use it to invest in communities historically underinvested in,” she says. A few of the projects Abdur-Rahim’s team will be leading include Cure Violence, a community-based violence intervention program, and WeatheRISE ATL, a program that will reduce energy burdens by installing energy-efficient retrofits and addressing home health and safety measures.
In addition to all of this, Abdur-Rahim is now giving back to her alma mater as a member of the Goizueta Alumni Board, where she’s looking forward to participating in the alumni mentorship program.
“As a first-generation college graduate, I know firsthand the importance of seeing someone who shares my experience become successful and use their good fortune to empower others,” she says.
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