GOVERNING Magazine has named Georgia’s own Stacey Abrams a “Public Official of the Year” — a distinction given to only 8-10 state and local officials nationwide.
The magazine, which previously presented the award to Gov. Sonny Perdue and Mayor Kasim Reed, paid particular attention in its write-up to the history-making rise of Abrams, who currently serves as Minority Leader in the State House.
A Democratic Representative from Atlanta, Abrams is the first woman to serve as a party leader in either chamber of the General Assembly and the first African-American to lead either party in the State House of Representatives.
GOVERNING credits her ability to work across the aisle for her growing prominence. One key excerpt recalls the role Abrams played in pressuring Governor Nathan Deal to make concessions on his Hope Scholarship reforms:
Abrams walked that tricky line, for example, by supporting legislation championed by Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, to overhaul the state’s Hope Scholarship program. While she disagreed with the governor that the program should be based on merit rather than need, Abrams was able to convince Deal and a majority of Republicans to compromise on other parts of the bill. Ultimately, the two sides agreed, among other things, to include low-interest loans and preserve most funding for pre-K programs. “My fundamental philosophy,” she says, “is that my first job is to cooperate and collaborate with the other side whenever I can.”
The magazine is not the first to recognize Abrams’s growing political influence in the Peach State. This year, the pro-choice women’s group EMILY’s List awarded Abrams its inaugural Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award.