Michael Hightower is the Founder and Managing Partner of The Collaborative Firm, LLC, which provides urban planning, architectural support, program management and development services to governmental entities, private sector clients and nonprofits.
With more than 10 years in business, The Collaborative Firm provides a wealth of experience in public policy, with an emphasis on planning, economic development and local governance issues. The Firm’s value is particularly evident through his proven track record of forging public-private partnerships in different communities throughout metropolitan Atlanta.
Prior to establishing The Collaborative Firm in 2001, Michael served for more than 14 years as Fulton County Commissioner. Additionally, he served for more than seven years on the College Park City Council. During much of his tenure on the Board of Commissioners, Michael served as Vice Chairman, and was a member of several boards and committees. He also served as President of the National Association of Counties (NACo), which includes over 3,000 counties nationwide, where he focused on welfare reform, affordable housing and sustainable communities.
In 2003, Michael and The Collaborative Firm established the South Metro Development Outlook, an annual forum for the purpose of convening planning, development, finance, real estate and local government professionals with an interest in fostering smart growth in the South metro areas of Clayton, Coweta, Douglas, Fayette, Henry, Spalding, and South Fulton Counties, as well as the City of Atlanta. Since its inception, the forum has attracted more than 500 attendees annually.
Some of Michael’s current affiliations include the African American Golf Foundation (Chairman), Urban Land Institute, and Airport Area, Clayton County, Douglas County and South Fulton Chambers of Commerce. Just a few of his past affiliations include his service as a member of the Woodruff Arts Center Board, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority Policy Committee, Americans for the Arts, 100 Black Men and the Atlanta Urban League Board. He has also served as the Chair of the Fulton County Retirement Board, as well as Chairman of the South Fulton Community Resource Alliance, Inc.
Michael has received more than 300 awards and recognitions from entities such as The White House, National Association of Counties, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ebony and Jet magazines, South Fulton Chamber of Commerce, Clark Atlanta University, Georgia State University, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and numerous churches, colleges, schools and organizations.
Michael graduated from Clark Atlanta University with honors and completed additional management studies at Georgia State University. He and his wife Sandra have one daughter, Evie, and live in southwest Atlanta.