Our stories of resilience aren’t just for us, but to inspire others with hope. Learn how Dawn Luke’s story of resilience inspired her work.
Dawn Luke is an Atlanta native by way of Lagrange, GA. Born to a middle-class, two-parent household,
Dawn was the second oldest of three girls. Her parents were hard-working factory workers who provided a financially sufficient life for her and her siblings. She recalls her childhood as loving and carefree.
As life would have it, the passing years wouldn’t be so carefree. It turns out that the same factory that
brought such stability to her family would be the very thing that would tear it apart. The factory would eventually go out of business sparking dysfunction within Dawn’s household. Soon for unknown reasons her father abandoned the family and her life would never be the same. In the absence of her father, Dawn’s mother struggled to maintain, and they eventually lost her childhood home. Now dealing with a whirlwind of emotions, Dawn was now faced with a very new obstacle, homelessness. They would often stay with relatives during this time, most notably Dawn’s grandmother.
During a time of transience, Dawn’s mother received a call from family back in Atlanta offering a place for her family to live. She saw this an opportunity for a fresh start and happily accepted. However, the move to Atlanta wasn’t what she had always envisioned and would emerge as a culture shock to Dawn. Her new home was one of the most drug infested and poverty-stricken neighborhoods in southwest Atlanta and would be a testament to her resilience.
Although this move took some adjustment and even coaching from her mom at times, Dawn was able to remain focused and excel in her new environment. She went to school maintained good grades and even set her sights on the military after feeling that school didn’t challenge her enough. Her mother strongly opposed to this and urged her to at least apply to Spelman College nearby, where she already had an older sister in attendance. After some convincing, Dawn applied and was accepted so she decided to attend.
Early in her collegiate career she was able to obtain an internship with Invest Atlanta where she started as a mailroom associate. This only heightened her already existing interest in public service philanthropy. Realizing that she could make a difference from staying within the organization, she began working her way up the ranks while earning a Master of Business Administration degree at Georgia State university. She was eventually promoted to Managing Director of Housing Finance, where she was
responsible for the successful implementation of $250M in affordable housing programs.
Her next promotion was Senior Vice President of Community Development, where she was tasked with providing strategic direction and executing comprehensive community development and economic growth in the City of Atlanta.
She’s now the Chief Operating Officer at Invest Atlanta and oversees everything from community development programs to information technology. She hopes to use her role to invoke change, uplift the city, and provide support for some of those people who came from similar neighborhoods as her.
In addition, outside of work Dawn serves as President Emeritus of the Board of Directors of Georgia Sustainable Committee. She is the Chairwoman of the Southwest Atlanta Partnership Board of Directors and also an active member of the Board of Directors for the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies (NALHFA). Dawn is a beacon of hope that is a product of Atlanta. Her knowledge extends beyond the boardrooms as she is connected to the various causes that she fights every day to aid. She overcame significant barriers and gives back on a daily through her life’s work.
Economic inclusion is addressing the distribution of economic growth by ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table of prosperity as a collective. This starts by shifting the narrative and the Faces of Opportunity program is about shifting that narrative.
For more Faces of Opportunity stories tune in to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z5Df0FafC4&list=PL-CviuE6znu_bDkINjIJT1bfsVLQm-kW-.