Sam Massell (born August 26, 1927) is a businessman who served from 1970 to 1974 as the 53rd mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. He is the first Jewish mayor in the city's history.

Life and career

A lifelong Atlanta resident, Massell has had successful careers in real estate brokerage, elected office, tourism, and association management.[1] He earned his Bachelor's degree in commercial science from Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia in 1951.[2]

For twenty years, Massell was a Realtor, having become vice president of the Allan-Grayson Realty Company, then one of the largest commercial brokerage firms in Atlanta. During that time, he was elected a charter member of the "Million Dollar Club" of the Atlanta Real Estate Board. He was further honored on three occasions by the Georgia Association of Real Estate Boards for the "Outstanding Transaction of the Year."

While in real estate, Massell also became active in a wide range of civic work, which eventually led to the political arena. He served twenty-two years in elected offices, first as a city councilman in the town of Mountain Park, where he owned a lakehouse. He then went to serving on the Atlanta City Executive Committee and then ran to serve eight years as President of Atlanta's Board of Aldermen (now the City Council). He ran for Mayor of Atlanta in 1969 and won the race in a runoff.[3] Mayor Massell was also the president of the 15,000-member National League of Cities. In addition, he has served a four-year term on the board of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority. He was a board member of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games.

Among other achievements, his mayoral administration is credited with establishing the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, the Omni Coliseum (the first enclosed arena in Atlanta),[1] and Woodruff Park in Central City, all without higher ad valorem taxes. He also pioneered minority opportunities in city government, appointing the first female to the Atlanta City Council and the first African Americans as municipal department heads.

After leaving full-time public service, Massell entered the tourism business in Buckhead, within the Atlanta metro area. For thirteen years, Massell operated in Buckhead under the name "Your Travel Agent Sam Massell." He is a Certified Travel Counselor and a former president of the Travel Industry Association of Georgia.

Massell now manages a nonprofit civic organization as founding president of the Buckhead Coalition, an association of business executives on the north side of Atlanta. He also serves on numerous boards, including the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, Atlanta Historical Society, and the Atlanta Speech School. In addition, he is in the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau "Hospitality Hall of Fame"; International Civil Rights King Center "Walk of Fame"; Georgia State University Robinson College "Business Hall of Fame", Georgia Trend Magazine "Most Influential Georgian's Hall of Fame," and Georgia Municipal Association "Government Hall of Fame."

In 1971, he received an honorary degree in Doctor of Laws from Oglethorpe University.[4]