Engage Symposium

Engage Symposium 

Satuday, January 16, 2021 | 10:00 AM - 4:30 PM


Join the Center for Student Engagement on Saturday, January 16, 2020 for Engage Symposium! With focus on leadership lessons and community engagement, the symposium will feature conversations leaders, including GT alumni, who have made considerable impact as local, regional and state leaders.  Each conversation will be led by a current GT student at GT’s Ferst Center for the Arts.   

This year the Engage Symposium will be presented in a hybrid format. You can join us live in the Ferst Center or watch from wherever you are through synchronous live-streaming.  The Ferst Center, which at full capacity holds an audience nearly 1000, will be limited to a live audience of 120 student participants to allow for social distancing. Individuals can join for some or all of the conversations during the event.   

Engage Symposium was inspired by the MOVEments podcast, hosted by Mobilizing Opportunities for Volunteer Experiences (MOVE).  Launched in September 2020, the podcast focuses on issues of social change and civic engagement.  Engage Symposium will be moderated by Sydney Blakeney, current GT student and host of the MOVEments podcast.   

The schedule for the day:  


10:30am – Speaker 1: “How is a community of support built? 

Frank BrownCEO, Communities In Schools of Atlanta 

GT Student, Taylor Gray  


12:30pm – Speaker 2: What if I was in charge?  

Cheneé JosephExecutive Director, The Historic District Development Corporation 

GT Student, Cade Lawson  


2:00pm – Speaker 3: Do people know you care?  

Doug Hooker, Executive Director, Atlanta Regional Commission  

GT Student, Adrianna Fu


3:30pm – Closing Session:  

VP & Dean of Students John Stein and Jen Abrams with GT Student, Sydney Blakeney 


Want to attend the Engage Symposium in person? Click Here! 


Visit our Engage Event to RSVP to the virtual event! 

Speaker Bios 

Frank Brown, Esq.  

Frank Brown, Esq. Is the Chief Executive Officer of Communities In Schools of Atlanta. The organization’s mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.   

Before leading CIS of Atlanta, Brown served as the first Executive Director of the Butler Street Community Development Corporation, establishing year-round youth programming, launching the March on Washington Film Festival in Atlanta, and reestablishing the Hungry Club Forum.  Brown previously served as the Director of Civic Engagement and Activation at Points of Light, the biggest volunteer organizer in the world,  as Executive Director of Oasis Community corporation, a nonprofit that provides after-school services to children and families in New York City Public Schools, and as Deputy Director for External Affairs at Boys and Girls Harbor.  He also served as Legislative Counsel for Sen. Arlen Specter for five years.   

Brown received his J.D. from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law and his B.A. in history with honors from Johnson C. Smith University.   


Cheneé Joseph  

Cheneé Joseph is a community development professional with several years of project management, community and real estate development experience. She is the Executive Director of the Historic District Development Corporation (HDDC) Atlanta’s oldest surviving community development corporation that has spearheaded nearly four decades of pioneering urban revitalization work in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood. 

Prior to this role, Ms. Joseph served as a project consultant at Draper & Associates, where she managed budgets and schedules for various capital improvements and demolition projects totaling $17 million in the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) portfolio.  She also held the Senior Manager of Neighborhood Revitalization position where she was instrumental in planning and implementing neighborhood stabilization and development projects and programs to meet the goals and strategies outlined in the HUD Choice Neighborhoods Transformation Plan for Ashview Heights, Vine City and the Atlanta University Center (AUC). 

Ms. Joseph is the Chair of the Beltline Affordable Housing Advisory Board (BAHAB) which provides guidance to Invest Atlanta and the City of Atlanta on the goals and policies related to the use of the BeltLine Affordable Housing Trust Fund and monitors the location and availability of affordable housing throughout the BeltLine.  She is a graduate of the Atlanta Jewish Committee’s Marvin Goldstein’s Project Understanding, the Urban Land Institute Center for Leadership (2016) and LEAD Atlanta (2012).  

Ms. Joseph received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Georgia State University and her master’s degree in building construction from the Georgia Institute of Technology. 


Doug Hooker  

Doug Hooker leads the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), which helps local government leaders, their community partners, and residents improve the region’s quality of life and address challenges of a dynamic, turbulent future.  The agency’s work focuses on the challenges of aging and independence services, arts and culture, community development, community research and analytics, economic competitiveness, homeland security, transportation and mobility, water and natural resources, and workforce solutions.   

Doug has worked in the public and private sectors, including stints with: Atkins Global, Bio-Lab Inc., the City of Atlanta, Georgia Power, and the State Road & Tollway Authority.  Throughout his career he has worked on local and regional issues involving education, energy, parks & greenspace, public works, sustainability, transit, transportation, and water.   

He is involved in this community and his profession, having served on several boards and advisory boards in Atlanta including the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Atlanta Music Project, the Fox Theatre Institute, Ivan Allen College, and the national advisory board for SPARCC (the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge).   

Doug holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Georgia Tech, and an MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.  He is married to Patrise Perkins-Hooker.  In his spare time, Doug studies and composes music, sings in a community choir, records books for page-impaired people, loves to travel with his wife, spend time with his grandchildren, and read.   


Jen Abrams 

Jen Abrams is a healthcare professional, Georgia Tech grad, and lover of all things sports and a night in with a good book. She joined Piedmont Healthcare Corporation in May of 2019 and has focused on improvement of clinical outcomes and patient care in the inpatient and outpatient space as well as a dedicated support of the Radiology service line. In March of 2020, shewas tapped to support the Infectious Disease physicians leading the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

She is a 2017 Public Policy graduate of Georgia Tech where she focused on politics and policy and social and urban policy in her academic studies. Outside of the classroom, Jen was involved widely across campus from marching band to housing, student government to new student orientation. The daughter of two Georgia Tech grads, Jen considers herself born and bred a Yellow Jacket. Following graduation, she served on the Board of Directors for the Women's Alumnae Network for two years and served one year as a member-at-large for the Georgia Tech Black Alumni Organization. A lover of sports and reading, in her free time you can find Jen at any GT sporting event, out on a run with her running club, or on her porch swing engulfed in a good read.