Jabari Simama (born Frederick Lewis on March 6) is an educator, public official, and author. He is the president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College located in metropolitan Atlanta. The college has campuses/centers in DeKalb County, Newton, Rockdale, and Morgan counties in Georgia. He was Chief of Staff for CEO Burrell Ellis from 2009 to 2012. In 2001 he was the chief architect of a large municipal technology program to bridge the digital divide, the Atlanta Community Technology Initiative where thousands of citizens were taught how to use computers and the internet. Simama also organized broadband in cities' and towns' summits from 2006 to 2009 in Columbia, South Carolina which explored how broadband technology can serve un-served rural and urban communities. Featured in John Barber's book The Black Digital Elite: African American Leaders of the Information Revolution, published by Praeger Publishers, Simama is also the author of Civil Rights to Cyber Rights: Broadband & Digital Equality in the Age of Obama, published in July, 2009.
Simama graduated from Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri. He attended Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri. He received his BA degree from the University of Bridgeport in Bridgeport, Connecticut, his MA degree from Atlanta University in Atlanta, Georgia, and his Ph.D.from Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Simama began his career as a college professor at Atlanta Junior College (currently, Atlanta Metropolitan College). He then moved to the University of Cincinnati in Ohio where he taught in the African American Studies Department and became the editor of Studia Africana. In 1979 he took an appointment as an Associate Professor of English at Morgan State University.
He returned to Atlanta in 1980. He became the first general manager of the Public-access television program in Atlanta, sponsored by the cable operator, then Cable Atlanta. Through the program five neighborhood-based studios were opened to teach Atlanta citizens television production skills.
At the end of 1986, Simama left the cable company and ran for elected office for the Atlanta City Council. In 1987, he won and became the first African American elected in the South with an African name. He served two terms as the District 3 council member, before embarking on an unsuccessful campaign for council president.
In 1994 he became a columnist for Creative Loafing (Atlanta), and as co-author of a series of articles entitled "Outside the Fences" in 1996 he won third place for the Alternative Newsweeklies Association (AAN). He published the weekly column until 1998. During this same period he was a Visiting Professor in the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He taught a course on Race and New Media and conducted research, which was featured in John Barber’s book, The Information Society and the Black Community.
He returned to the City of Atlanta in 1998 in the position of Director of Communications where he was responsible for all communications and marketing for the city. During his tenure as Director of Communications, he negotiated an 8 million dollar deal with AT&T and Media One to fund a citywide program designed to bridge the digital divide. The City Cyber Program included multiple sites such as recreation centers, libraries, one historical black college, and a cyber bus that brought mobile broadband technology directly to local communities. In 2003, the cyber bus became the operations center for a forum sponsored for U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein.
In 2005, Simama left government and returned to education as Vice President for Community Development and External Affairs and Executive Assistant to the President at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. There Simama continued his work in community technology, sponsoring four annual summits on Broadband in Cities and Towns. The summits attracted participants from around the country and focused on the idea of expanding broadband to unserved and under-served communities.
In June 2009, Simama returned to Atlanta and began working as the Deputy Chief Operating Officer of Development for DeKalb County, the third largest county in Georgia. He was promoted by the CEO to Chief of Staff Chief of Staff where remained until August, 2012.
Civil Rights to Cyber Rights: Broadband & Digital Equality in the Age of Obama, (2009) ISBN 0-615-29662-9
The Information Society and the Black Community, "Race, Politics, and Pedagogy of New Media: From Civil Rights to Cyber Rights" ed. John Barber, 2001 ISBN 0-275-95724-1
Simama became President of Georgia Piedmont Technical College in September 2012. The college, which used to be DeKalb Technical College, is located in Clarkston, Georgia. It serves students in DeKalb, Rockdale, Newton, and Morgan counties.