Sam Williams has led Atlanta’s high-profile and influential business community, one of the most active in the nation, for nearly two decades. Atlanta has the fourth highest concentration of Fortune 500s in the country, where he is credited with organizing and motivating private, academic and public sector leaders who changed the economic focus of the region to “industries of the mind.” Sam is recognized as a national thought leader by the Brookings Institution’s Global Cities initiative, serves on the national think tank Partners for Livable Communities and was a board member of the National Council on Philanthropy and Civic Renewal. As an acclaimed speaker and now author, Sam recently completed his groundbreaking book, The CEO as Urban Statesman.


Sam is now a Professor at Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and a Strategy Consultant. His firm, Business City Partnerships, helps mayors, CEOs, and leadership groups grappling with tipping-point issues. Georgia Trend magazine named him one of the Most Influential Georgians, and the Atlanta Business Chronicle has listed him among Atlanta’s Top 100 since 1990. He is a recipient of the Governor’s International Lifetime Achievement Award and the Spelman College Legacy of Leadership award, and is a member of Georgia State University’s Business Hall of Fame and the Georgia Tech Engineering Hall of Fame. Sam has been a sought-after source for national and global news outlets and  quoted in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The Boston Globe, Time Magazine, CNN, NBC, the BBC and others - and has been regularly interviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


Considered a global-minded business executive, Sam gained extensive experience working in China and the Middle East. Georgia’s governor asked him to help organize a campaign of Fortune 500 CEOs to increase Latin American trade, resulting in six countries opening consulates in Atlanta and quadrupling air service. Through his personal relationships with the top 100 CEOs, he has been the ambassador who networked new CEOs into the community, making social and business introductions. Sam put together over a dozen coalitions of business and public sector leaders staffed by consultants including McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and Bain that saved Grady Hospital from bankruptcy, developed contingency plans to mitigate the “water wars” with Alabama and Florida, changed Georgia’s flag, and created new industry recruitment campaigns for high-tech, bio-science, logistics and global trade.


Sam recently retired as president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber for the past 17 years, having grown it into a 4,000-company organization. U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Tom Donohue called it one of the top two business organizations in the nation. Sam raised over $300 million from the private sector to create professional recruiting campaigns, utilizing Atlanta’s top executives that brought 800 companies with 75,000 jobs to Atlanta in a creative cluster industry approach. Sam galvanized business leaders to engage in public policy and political issues including immigration, a sales tax for transportation and water conservation, among others. He led the revitalization of downtown Atlanta during and after the Olympics, resulting in the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coke, College Football Hall of Fame and Center for Civil and Human Rights. As a partner for 22 years with Portman Properties, a global architect-development company, Sam was responsible for (architectural contracts or) real estate development or operations in Atlanta, San Francisco, Orlando, Shanghai and Jeddah totaling $1.5 billion in assets.


Having graduated from Harvard Business School and Georgia Tech, Sam is an active alumnus. Recognized for his expertise on business leadership, university leaders asked him to speak at TEDx Atlanta. He created the Atlanta Business Higher Education Council, which includes nine CEOs and college presidents.


Sam has served on numerous boards and is currently on the Board of Directors at Grady Health Systems and Emory Healthcare. He is on the Senior Advisory Board at MedAssets (Nasdaq MDAS)



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