Sally Silver
Sally Silver

The Georgia Department of Transportation has honored Neighborhood Planning Unit-B Chairwoman Sally Silver for her commitment to improving air quality in the Atlanta region.

On Aug. 24, she received the commissioner’s award for showing “exemplary commitment to improving air quality and reducing traffic congestion” according to, a nonprofit under contract with Georgia DOT. She received the award during the 2011 PACE awards ceremony at the Georgia- Pacific Auditorium.

It came as a surprise to Silver, who started her involvement in public service 20 years ago opposing expansion of Ga. 400 as president of the North Buckhead Neighborhood Civic Association. Eventually, the road cut her neighborhood in half and she now lives next to a six-lane highway and a MARTA station. She even once held a sign up in a protest that said, “Georgia 400: a scar that will never heal.”

But time has cooled her attitude toward developers and she now treats development with a more balanced approach. She began working with the Georgia DOT, which eventually led to her involvement in neighborhood planning. She began to see a new way to influence the development around her.

“I understand property rights,” Silver said. “There’s ways of mitigating repercussions that development brings. My goal is always for the best development possible. It became very apparent to me that working with folks to get a better result works a lot better than trying to stop something.”

Silver also had a direct role in creating the Buckhead Area Transportation Management Association, which promotes a better working relationship between businesses and residents, according to the Clean Air Campaign. Silver is a member of District 7 Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook’s staff.

Silver is the board secretary for Livable Buckhead, which promotes environmental issues and quality of life in Buckhead.

“Silver’s vision is far beyond the typical community activist, as she performs the role of a well-seasoned development/planning/transportation professional for the community’s overall benefit,” Livable Buckhead says on its website. “She understands that good development has a unique ability to find opportunities where challenges seem insurmountable.”

Silver, mindful of how her community activism started, called receiving the award “awkward.”

“I think it’s fabulous,” she said. “I’m thrilled. I’m honored. I can’t believe they gave it to me. It’s ironic.”