Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who successful steered the city through financial woes in his first months in office, is to be awarded the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ 2012 Louis E. Martin Great American Award at it’s annual dinner May 1. The coveted award is named after groundbreaking journalist and Joint center co-founder.

In a statement April 9, the Joint Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that focuses on public policy affecting African Americans and other non-white groups, hailed the first-term mayor for governing with an effective blend of pragmatism and compassion in preserving city services in the face of competing fiscal demands.

Reed, who narrowly won the mayoral election with a 714-vote margin in 2009, balanced the city’s budget by limiting pensions of city employees and redirected the proceeds to fighting crime and beefing up community centers in poor neighborhoods.

He was praised by a New York Times columnist for “combining a soft touch with a hard head.”

“In the wake of the Great Recession, which has hit hard at urban communities across this nation, Kasim Reed has shown with great skill and creative leadership that city government can put itself on strong footing while improving services to those who depend on them the most,” said Joint Center Board of Governors Chair Cynthia Marshall in a statement announcing the award.

Reed, who was raised in Atlanta and spent 11 years in the Georgia legislature as a representative and a senator, first gained national attention as a Howard University undergraduate who crafted a fund-raising mechanism that added more than $2 million to Howard’s endowment and resulted in his becoming the youngest person ever named to the school’s board of trustees. .

“The positive impact that Mayor Reed has had in the first two years of his administration in Atlanta makes him one of the most compelling politicians of his generation,” said Joint Center President and CEO Ralph B. Everett said.