Advocacy | Nonprofit Organizations | Religion | Legends
Founder and Chair
After serving 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, including seven as minority leader, Stacey Abrams became the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia in 2018. The first Black woman to receive a major-party nomination in a gubernatorial race in the United States, Abrams got more votes than any Democrat in the state’s history. Following the election, Abrams launched the organization Fair Fight to mobilize voters, advocate for electoral reform, and fight voter suppression. In January 2019, she was tapped to give the Democratic response to the State of the Union address. In 2022, Abrams was again the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia.
Education: Spelman College, University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs (MPAff), Yale Law School (JD)
Notable achievement: Founded the New Georgia Project, which submitted more than 200,000 registrations from voters of color between 2014 and 2016
First job: Speechwriter for a congressional candidate
Inspiring person: Johnnetta Cole
Douglas B. Ammar
Georgia Justice Project
Douglas B. Ammar has been an active presence at Georgia Justice Project (GJP) since its beginning in 1986. Starting as a volunteer, then joining as a staff attorney in 1990, Ammar became executive director in 1995. GJP provides holistic criminal defense and social services while seeking systemic change in Georgia law that will reduce the number of people under correctional control and reduce barriers to reentry into society. During his leadership, GJP has helped to change 22 laws in Georgia, such as Senate Bill 288 which enables Georgians to have second chances by expanding access to record restriction and sealing for certain eligible Georgia criminal records.
Education: Davidson College, Washington and Lee University School of Law (JD)
Hometown: Charleston, West Virginia
Why I chose this work: Growing up poor with an addicted, single-parent father, my childhood goal was to escape and live a life of comfort. But later, before law school, I felt called to return to the places and people I was running from. Being married to a woman of color for over 30 years, and raising our sons, has also reinforced my sense of mission and commitment.
Who’d play me in a biopic: Robert De Niro
Aparna Bhattacharyya is the executive director of the Raksha, Inc. The mission of Rashka, which means protection in several South Asian languages, is to promote a stronger and healthier South Asian community through confidential support services, education, and advocacy. Having served as executive director since 1998, Bhattacharyya built the organization’s capacity from a volunteer-run, grassroots organization to a nationally known full-service agency providing counseling, legal advocacy, economic empowerment, training, and technical assistance locally and nationally. Additionally, she increased the organization’s budget by over 400 percent. As a representative of Raksha, Bhattacharyya has served as a founding task force member and board secretary for the International Women’s House, the only shelter in the nation to serve battered women and children of all nationalities, supported by a multicultural and multilingual staff. A member of the Leadership Atlanta class of 2010, Bhattacharyya was honored as a White House Champion of Change in 2013.
Education: Georgia State University
First job: Gorin’s Homemade Ice Cream
Grove Park Renewal
With a strong background in urban planning, administration, nonprofit leadership, and a love for people, Bleeker thinks strategically and practically about community development. He believes the most important community asset is people. Grove Park Renewal was started as an effort to empower neighbors through quality, dignified housing. Much of the housing in Grove Park was dilapidated and owned by absentee landlords who had little interest in fostering community. Grove Park Renewal is developing these properties for the benefit of the current neighbors. Bleeker lives with his wife, Ruby, and three children in the heart of Grove Park.
Education: Dordt University, University of Southern California (MA)
Hometown: Castlewood, South Dakota few people know I love to sing.
What I’d tell my 18-year-old self: Stay grounded in your relationships. Work, money, and power fade away.
Nonprofits: Redeemer Community Church, Peace Preparatory Academy, PAWKids
Director, Democracy Lab South
Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Atlanta
Formerly the executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Atlanta, Stephanie Cho leads Democracy Lab South, a new initiative from AAAJA, the organization which advocates for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans in Georgia and the Southeast. Her new project is focused on environmental justice work in Atlanta and AAPI political power building in a few other southern states. Bringing more than 20 years of experience in labor and community organizing, strategic planning, and fundraising at the local and national levels, Cho was previously the Los Angeles director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center, where she worked to raise industry standards and wages for LA’s restaurant workers. She has been a community organizer, program director for LGBTQ+ youth programming, director of training for a national fellowship program, labor organizer, and organizational consultant.
Education: Portland State University
Hometown: Pyeongtaek, South Korea
First job: Restaurant Bon Ton
Toughest challenge: Being on my own at 17
Few people know: I was a welder in college.
Liz Coyle oversees Georgia Watch, the state’s leading nonprofit consumer-advocacy organization. Georgia Watch advocates for policies that improve individual and family financial security, increase access to affordable healthcare, and lower the energy burden on struggling families. In addition to her role with Georgia Watch, Coyle serves as board chair of the Historic Fourth Ward Park Conservancy, having served on the Consumer Advisory Board of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from 2018 to 2019, and as vice chair of the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative board from 2018 to 2021. In 2021, she testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to share insights on protecting consumers in a pandemic recovery economy.
Education: University of Virginia
Why I chose this work: I’ve been standing up for people I think are being wronged my whole life.
Hidden talent: I love to cook, especially on Sundays listening to TED Talks!
Favorite TV show: I’m a huge fan of Rachel Maddow.
Favorite place to visit: Rural Georgia, especially driving on country roads
Dázon Dixon Diallo
Founder and President
Dázon Dixon Diallo is the president of SisterLove, the first women’s HIV and sexual and reproductive justice organization in the southeastern U.S., which she founded in 1989. A widely celebrated advocate, Diallo is also a member of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, a cochair of the Act Now: End AIDS coalition, and a founding member of the SisterSong reproductive justice collective. She has served on the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council for the National Institutes of Health and on the board of the National Women’s Health Network. Diallo has an honorary doctorate from Spelman College and was among 30 Atlantans featured on murals installed citywide ahead of the 2019 Super Bowl.
Education: Spelman College, University of Alabama at Birmingham (MPH)
Hometown: Fort Valley, Georgia
Lesson learned: Not everyone is who they say they are, and almost everyone will show themselves. So keep your eyes open and believe what they show you, not what you hear and feel.
Best advice received: From Miss Johnnie Mae, 75-year-old receptionist, circa 2001: “Baby, you gon’ just have to be happy despite the bullshit!”
Jeff Graham is the executive director of Georgia Equality, which works to advance fairness, safety, and opportunity for LGBTQ+ communities throughout Georgia. Graham began advocating on LGBTQ+ and AIDS issues as a college student in the mid-1980s, and has been involved in a wide variety of grassroots and legislative advocacy campaigns since. Over the past 25 years he’s served as either executive director or board member for a number of local and national organizations working on issues related to gay and transgender rights, access to healthcare, community empowerment, and HIV/AIDS.
Education: Trinity University
Hometown: Loveland, Colorado
Notable achievements: Linda Smith Lowe Health Advocacy Award (2017), League of Women Voters of Georgia Health Advocate Award (2016), Health Initiative Healing Angel Award (2014), National Center for Human Rights Education Human Rights Guardian Award (2004)
First job: Costume designer
Feminist Women’s Health Center
Kwajelyn Jackson is the executive director of the Feminist Women’s Health Center, overseeing the organization’s operations, abortion clinic, civic engagement, and education and outreach teams. First hired in 2013 as community engagement coordinator, Jackson has led the expansion of FWHC’s statewide and national programming, deepened community partnerships, and worked to prevent new abortion restrictions proposed. Prior to joining FWHC, Jackson was the program manager for WonderRoot Community Arts Center. A respected voice on reproductive justice at the national level, Jackson is on the boards of All-Options, Abortion Care Network, and the Black Mamas Matter Alliance.
Education: Spelman College, Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (MS)
Notable achievement: First Black woman to lead Feminist Women’s Health Center in the organization’s 47-year history
Inspiring person: Gloria Washington (maternal grandmother)
Best advice received: You do not have to set yourself on fire to warm up the room for everyone else.
2022 Democratic Nominee for Georgia Secretary of State
Bee Nguyen was the Democratic nominee for Georgia’s Secretary of State in 2022. She had been the first Asian American Democratic woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly, serving House District 89, the seat formerly held by Stacey Abrams. She’s also served as a national policy adviser for New American Leaders, which promotes the political participation of first- and second-generation Americans. Prior to being elected in 2017, Nguyen served as chief of staff for Georgia Representative Sam Park. She’s also worked for the resettlement agency Boat People SOS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. Nguyen is the founder of Athena’s Warehouse, which supports high school girls in Atlanta.
Education: Georgia State University (MA, MPA)
Why I chose this work: As the daughter of refugees, I have spent my life trying to honor the courageous legacy of my parents. While I know this is an impossible feat, the work I do is rooted in my family story.
First job: Grocery worker at Winn-Dixie in Augusta
Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
Phi Nguyen is the executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. In her previous role, she was the litigation director, where she focused on impact litigation in the areas of voting rights and immigrant justice. Since joining AAJA-Atlanta in early 2017, Nguyen has helped block a Georgia law that restricted voters’ rights to an interpreter at the polls and represented a class of Vietnamese immigrants suing the federal government over the indefinite nature of their detention in ICE prisons. Previously, Nguyen practiced as a medical malpractice trial lawyer for eight years. Growing up in the South as a Vietnamese American with refugee parents, Nguyen’s life experiences formed into her passion to protect and expand the civil rights of AAPIs and other marginalized communities. Outside of her legal practice, Nguyen co-produces Wake Up, Atlanta, a web series dedicated to educating and civically empowering AAPI millennials in Georgia. In 2022, she was recognized on the 25 Most Influential Asian Americans in Georgia list for Georgia Asian Times.
Education: University of Georgia, Georgia State University (JD)
First job: Administrative assistant at a child neurology office
Public Policy Director
Southern Center for Human Rights
Tiffany Williams Roberts, a civil rights and criminal defense attorney, joined the Southern Center for Human Rights in 2018 as community engagement and movement-building counsel and became its public policy director in 2022. A former public defender and founding member of the Atlanta chapter of Black Lives Matter, she chairs the Ebenezer Baptist Church Social Justice Ministry and has served on the City of Atlanta’s task force to reimagine the Atlanta City Detention Center. Additionally, Roberts cofounded Building Locally to Organize for Community Safety, a police accountability organization and is a part-time instructor at Georgia State University College of Law.
Education: Emory University, Georgia State University College of Law (JD)
Notable achievements: Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys’ Barbara A. Harris Award for Service to the Community (2020), Southern Center for Human Rights Gideon’s Promise Award (2018), NAACP Atlanta Jubilee Day Award (2018)
Inspiring person: Journalist Ida B. Wells
Few people know: I sang in Emory’s all-female a cappella group, the Gathering.
Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
Rebecca Serna is the executive director of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, a group founded in 1991 to improve biking conditions in the city. Since Serna took the helm in 2007, the coalition has launched the open-streets project Atlanta Streets Alive, created bike valets at Atlanta festivals, and organized successful campaigns for an Atlanta Department of Transportation and a Vision Zero policy, which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities. A native Atlantan, Serna was previously an intern with the Georgia Department of Transportation and a Fulbright scholar in Bogotá, Colombia, where she studied participatory planning practices and innovative public transportation projects.
Education: University of Georgia, Georgia State University Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (MS)
Hobbies: Wading in creeks, growing food, reading novels, watching great TV
Charities: ACLU, Atlanta Community Food Bank, Los Vecinos de Buford Highway, The Bail Project
Legal and Advocacy Director
Azadeh Shahshahani works to protect the human rights of immigrants and Muslim, Middle Eastern, and South Asian communities throughout the Southeast. She helped produce a widely read 2017 report, Imprisoned Justice, exposing conditions in two of Georgia’s largest immigration detention centers; her recent work includes documenting violations at the Irwin County Detention Center, including invasive gynecological procedures without consent. She also played a key role in convincing the City of Atlanta to stop detaining immigrants in the city jail. A past president of the National Lawyers Guild, Shahshahani previously worked as the national security and immigrant-rights project director with the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.
Education: University of Michigan (MA), University of Michigan Law School (JD)
Nathaniel Q. Smith
Founder and Chief Equity Officer
Partnership for Southern Equity
Nathaniel Smith founded and serves as chief equity officer of the Partnership for Southern Equity, which promotes racial equity and shared prosperity for all in metropolitan Atlanta and the American South. PSE focuses on energy equity, economic inclusion, and equitable development, and created the South’s first equity-mapping tool, the Metro Atlanta Equity Atlas. PSE led a coalition of diverse stakeholders to support a $13 million transit referendum that expanded MARTA into a new county for the first time in 45 years. PSE continues to support the racial equity ecosystem through the Covid-19 pandemic with its Covid-19 Rapid Relief Fund. The fund distributed more than $600,000 to more than 30 organizations through an initial investment from the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the United Way of Greater Atlanta.
Education: Morehouse College, New School (MS)
Activist, Community Organizer, CEO
New Georgia Project
Nsé Ufot is the CEO of the New Georgia Project, a statewide effort to register all eligible, unregistered Georgians of color. By 2019, the group had registered almost half a million Georgians in all 159 of the state’s counties. Previously, Ufot worked as assistant executive director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers—Canada’s largest faculty union—and for the American Association of University Professors, where she was a senior lobbyist and government relations officer. A naturalized citizen, Ufot was born in Nigeria and raised in southwest Atlanta.
Education: Georgia Tech, University of Dayton School of Law (JD)
Andrea I. Young
American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia
Andrea Young joined the ACLU of Georgia as executive director in 2017. Under her leadership, the organization has grown in influence, impact, donor support, and membership, battling injustice and inequality through the courts while providing legislative advocacy and community engagement. Young has taught leadership and social policy at Georgia State University, was the founding executive director of the Andrew J. Young Foundation, and created the Making of Modern Atlanta project, which included an archive, documentary film, and book. She is the author of Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me and the coauthor, with Andrew Young and Harvey Newman, of Andrew Young and the Making of Modern Atlanta.
Education: Swarthmore College, Georgetown University Law Center (JD)
Notable achievements: Worked as a U.S. House and Senate aide and nonprofit leader to end apartheid in South Africa, establish the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday, and expand support for working families, reproductive healthcare, and early childhood education
Favorite TV show: Lovecraft Country, made in Atlanta by Misha Green, Jordan Peele, and J.J. Abrams
Leonard L. Adams Jr.
Founder and CEO
Quest Community Development Organization
Leonard L. Adams Jr. is the founder and CEO of Quest Community Development Organization, which invests in affordable housing and provides services to underserved people. Adams has increased the grassroots organization’s annual operating budget to $4.5 million, with $39 million in current assets, and secured over $100 million in government grants and subsidy support for affordable housing. A native of Detroit and an Army veteran, Adams has years of experience in developing affordable and supportive housing communities in challenged neighborhoods on Atlanta’s Westside and in Knoxville, Tennessee. Adams serves on Knoxville College’s board of trustees and on the Enterprise Community Leadership Council.
Education: Knoxville College, Kennesaw State University (MBA)
First job: Snow-shoveling specialist and newspaper deliverer
President and CEO
Westside Future Fund
John Ahmann is president and CEO of the Westside Future Fund, a nonprofit formed by public, private, and philanthropic partners to promote the development of Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood. Ahmann has been driven for more than 25 years to improve the way communities and institutions function in Atlanta. Following a stint as a U.S. House of Representatives staffer, he worked for the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games and later for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. In 2004, Ahmann became executive director of the Atlanta Committee for Progress. He also has his own public affairs consulting firm and served two terms on the City Schools of Decatur Board of Education.
Education: Emory University, Yale School of Management (MA)
The Carter Center
Paige Alexander joined the Carter Center as CEO in June 2020. Alexander has had a distinguished global development career, with over two decades of experience spanning the government and nonprofit sectors. She has held senior leadership positions at two regional bureaus of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), covering missions and development programs in 25 countries. Between 1993 and 2001, Alexander was USAID’s deputy for the Europe region with a focus on immediate post-
conflict reconstruction in the Balkans. The Atlanta native held several roles in the Bureau for Europe and the Newly Independent States Task Force, including chief of staff, acting director for the democracy and governance office, deputy director of the Bosnia Task Force, and country desk officer. After leaving for 10 years to work in a leadership role in the nonprofit sector, Alexander returned to USAID in 2011 in the Senate-confirmed position of assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia.
Terri L. Badour
American Red Cross of Georgia
Terri Badour leads the American Red Cross serving Greater Atlanta, one of the largest and strongest chapters in the country, in terms of mission delivery, volunteer engagement, and philanthropy. Prior to this, Badour served in a dual role as the first female CEO of the Red Cross of Georgia and as the executive director for Metro Atlanta, leading the organization as it responded to disasters from home fires to hurricanes, offered services to members of the armed forces and their families, organized blood collection, engaged volunteers, and provided health and safety training.
Education: Western Michigan University, Florida State University (MS)
Notable achievements: Junior League of Atlanta Isolene Campbell Founder’s Circle Award, YWCA Academy of Women Achievers (2012), president of the Junior League of Atlanta (2001-2002), founder and first president of the Atlanta chapter of the Executive Women’s Golf Association (1992)
Why I chose this work: I’ve always been drawn to service and giving back to my community. It’s a privilege to represent this iconic, worldwide emblem and to help others during the worst of times.
James “Jay” Bailey
President and CEO
Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship
James “Jay” Bailey is president and CEO of the H.J. Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs, an incubator, accelerator, and innovation lab launched in 2019 to empower African American entrepreneurs and small-business owners. An Atlanta native, Bailey is also the founder of the private equity firm Greenwood Archer, which seeks to build wealth in underserved communities. Widely lauded for his leadership, James was recognized at the White House in 2012 as one of eight Champions of Change: In the Footsteps of Martin Luther King Jr. honorees.
Education: University of Georgia
Why I chose this work: To change lives, change my community, and plant seeds that will grow trees whose shade I may never sit under.
Hidden talent: I’m a cattle farmer. I drive a tractor and can call the cows with the best of them.
Favorite book: Building Atlanta: How I Broke through Segregation to Launch a Business Empire by Herman J. Russell with Bob Andelman
Bucket list: A trip to Egypt
Manager, Community Relations
Georgia Natural Gas
Saint Louis native Maurice “Moe” Baker is manager of community relations for Georgia Natural Gas, which serves nearly half a million customers as part of Southern Company, one of the largest energy companies in the U.S. At GNG since 2002, Baker supervises community relations, philanthropy, and volunteer programs, and has been responsible for millions of dollars in charitable giving for the company. He began his career as manager of WSB-TV/Radio’s Consumer Action Center.
Education: Boston University
Best advice received: Yolanda King advised me to always bring a tape recorder to an interview. I was working for my high school newspaper at the time.
Favorite travel destination: South Africa
Hidden talent: I’m actually a pretty good painter.
Favorite TV shows: Blackish, 60 Minutes
President and CEO
Piedmont Park Conservancy
Mark Banta is president and CEO of the Piedmont Park Conservancy, a donor-funded organization that enhances and preserves the park as a cultural and recreational resource for Atlanta. Prior to the Conservancy, Banta served as president of Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, the construction of which he oversaw, and general manager of Centennial Olympic Park for 16 years, beginning with its opening in 1996.
Education: Berry College
Hometown: Unincorporated DeKalb County (now Brookhaven)
Inspiring person: His mother encouraged a love of the outdoors: “With five children, Mom’s rule was, ‘If the sun is out, kids are out.’”
GALEO and GALEO Impact Fund
Alejandro Chavez was born into the world of advocacy for Latinx rights. As Cesar Chavez’s grandson, organizing and leadership development are in his blood. In June 2022, Chavez joined the efforts of GALEO as deputy director to continue to build the civic engagement and develop the leadership of the Latinx community in Georgia. Prior to his work with GALEO, Chavez worked with MoveOn.org to promote diplomatic solutions in the Middle East, successfully gaining public support from MoveOn members to push their elected officials to support the Iran Nuclear Deal. Following his time at MoveOn, Chavez became the senior electoral campaign manager with Democracy for America. In 2020, he was the political director for Prop 207 Smart and Safe campaign in Arizona to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use which passed by 60 percent, the most of any marijuana initiative in the country.
Hometown: San Jose, California
Favorite TV show: Lopez vs. Lopez
Favorite Atlanta podcast: Los Politicos
Toughest challenge: The toughest challenge I have ever overcome is alcoholism. I have not had a drink in 19 years.
Nicole “Nikki” Clifton
President, Social Impact and The UPS Foundation
UPS, The UPS Foundation
Nikki Clifton leads UPS’s global philanthropy, social impact, and international community affairs, leveraging the company’s partnerships and logistical acumen to respond to the world’s most pressing social, humanitarian, and environmental needs. Clifton has been instrumental in several signature initiatives at UPS. She coordinated the company’s anti-human trafficking awareness and advocacy initiatives to create the largest training initiative in the private logistics industry. Under her leadership, The UPS Foundation advanced the in-kind distribution of Covid-19 vaccines and cold chain freezers to underserved countries, a global effort that called on UPS’s airline, drone, and ground network. Clifton is overseeing a strategic overhaul of the UPS Foundation to align the company’s philanthropic strategy more closely with UPS’s strengths and priorities and to center its work on equity and justice.
Education: Howard University, University of Georgia School of Law (JD)
Notable achievements: A class of 2022 member of YWCA of Greater Atlanta’s Academy of Women Achievers, Clifton is also a member of the board of directors for Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital.
Juliet Cohen joined Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in 2008 as general counsel and has served as executive director since January 2015. She previously worked as a staff attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, as a program manager for the South Carolina More Than a Port project of the Coastal Conservation League in Charleston, and for the
environmental-education organization Earth Force in Washington, D.C.
Education: University of Miami, American University Washington College of Law (JD)
Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Why I chose this work: I grew up surrounded by and immersed in pristine tropical waters and rain forests and developed a love and respect for the natural world.
Lesson learned: Learn to understand how other people think and work.
Bucket list: I want to visit all of the national parks.
President and CEO
A licensed marriage and family therapist with 40 years of experience, Kathy Colbenson has been the CEO of CHRIS 180 since 1987. Under her leadership, CHRIS 180 has grown to include foster homes and counseling centers across metro Atlanta, a permanent supportive housing program, a comprehensive community program designed to strengthen families, a drop-in center and integrated health clinic for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, an adoption program, and much more—all focusing on behavioral health, recovering from the impact of childhood trauma, and helping people develop the skills necessary for self-sufficiency. CHRIS 180 also opened the Southeast’s first outreach program for LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness and created the first supportive housing program in the state for homeless youth and youth aging out of foster care.
Education: Georgia State University, University of West Georgia (MA)
Founder and CEO
Jasmine Crowe is an award-winning social entrepreneur, TED speaker, and leader. In 2017, after years of feeding people experiencing homelessness from her own kitchen, she launched Goodr, a sustainable waste management company that leverages technology to combat hunger and reduce food waste. Since the launch in 2017, Goodr has been responsible for providing over 30 million meals to people across the United States and has diverted over 3 million pounds of surplus food that would have ended up in a landfill. Under her direction, Goodr also launched a grocery delivery program providing weekly groceries to senior citizens and children in virtual school. In 2021, Crowe partnered with recording artist, Gunna, launching the first in-school free grocery store in Atlanta. Additionally, she is the author of the children’s book, Everybody Eats.
Education: North Carolina Central University
First job: I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. In middle school, I started a business teaching kids gymnastics called Tumble Tots.
Best advice received: The best advice I received was from my dad. No matter how tough the day was going, he would always say, “Joy comes in the morning.”
Meals On Wheels Atlanta
After serving on the Meals On Wheels Atlanta (MOWA) board of trustees for six years, Charlene Crusoe-Ingram stepped into the role of CEO in 2015. As CEO, Crusoe-Ingram leads the organization’s work to end senior hunger in Atlanta, overseeing the delivery of more than 500,000 meals annually as well MOWA’s social enterprise business, Purposeful Gourmet Foods, which generates revenue to support MOWA’s mission. Crusoe-Ingram, a native of New Albany, Mississippi, brings a wealth of corporate experience to her position, including senior leadership roles at Abbott Laboratories, the Coca-Cola Co., and NDC Health (now part of McKesson Pharmacy Systems). She is an alum of Leadership Atlanta and has been honored as a supporter and leader by the National Black Arts MBA Conference. She has been featured as a strategic human resources professional in Beverage Digest.
Education: Bradley University (BA, MA)
Hobbies: Flower arranging
Favorite travel destination: Paris
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: High Museum
President and CEO
Brian Davis is Georgia Aquarium’s president and CEO. Davis brings with him more than 25 years of experience in senior leadership roles within zoological and educational institutions. Prior to Davis’s most recent role at Georgia Aquarium, he was the president and CEO of the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut. Davis has also held education and administrative roles in Cobb County’s school system, New York Aquarium, and Zoo Atlanta. The Rosell, New Jersey, native has held various positions at Georgia Aquarium since 2003. He became the first Black chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums board, the accrediting body for zoological institutions in North America.
Education: Rutgers University, Georgia State University (MA, PhA)
First job: Wendy’s. I can recall being very excited to earn my own money and take trips to the shore. The job taught me a great deal of discipline.
Best advice received: My mother, Joyce Davis, would often tell me, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason; so we can listen twice as much as you speak.”
Chief Executive Officer
American Red Cross of Georgia
Deirdre “Dee” Dixon became the CEO of the American Red Cross of Georgia in 2021. She oversees the Red Cross mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies, statewide, by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. More than 10 million people in 159 Georgia counties benefit from the Red Cross programs under Dixon’s leadership. Dixon joined the Georgia Red Cross as chief development officer in 2017. During her tenure, Dixon secured more than $81 million for the Red Cross mission and played a pivotal role in fundraising for local and national disaster relief operations.
Education: Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University (MBA)
Hometown: Metter, Georgia
Notable achievements: Dixon was a Spring 2022 commencement ceremony speaker for Georgia Southern University. Additionally, she is a member of the Waters College Advisory Board. Launched in 2022, the advisory board was created to support and facilitate the success of Georgia Southern University’s Waters College of Health Professions
Curley Dossman Jr.
The president of the Georgia-Pacific Foundation since 1994, Curley Dossman Jr. leads the organization’s charitable-giving program, which focuses on four areas: education, environment, enrichment, and entrepreneurship. He also oversees Georgia-Pacific’s community-affairs efforts, including national disaster relief. Previously, Dossman spent a decade as the state vice president of government affairs for AT&T.
Education: Morehouse College, Washington University School of Law (JD)
Hometown: Ville Platte, Louisiana
Notable achievements: Supported Georgia-Pacific’s leadership role in securing funding for the restoration of Ebenezer Baptist Church, past board chair of 100 Black Men of America
Few people know: I have a law degree.
Hobbies: Travel, golf
Favorite book: The Firm by John Grisham
George A. Dusenbury IV
State Director, Georgia and Alabama
The Trust for Public Land
As Georgia state director for the Trust for Public Land, George Dusenbury oversees the organization’s work on urban parks and green infrastructure. Central to this work is TPL’s leadership on the Chattahoochee RiverLands, a collaborative effort with the Atlanta Regional Commission and other stakeholders to create a master plan for a 100-mile stretch along the Chattahoochee River. Proud of its partnership with the City of Atlanta to build the 16-acre Rodney Cook Sr. Park in Vine City, TPL also is working with metro school districts and community partners to reimagine and redesign schoolyards as community parks outside of school hours. Additionally, Dusenbury serves as an advocate for parks, sustainability, and good urban design as a part of Decatur’s City Commission.
Education: Cornell University, Emory University School of Law (JD)
Previous positions: Commissioner of the Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation, executive director of Park Pride, legislative director and district director for Congressman John Lewis
Best advice received: Get in the way.
Inspiring person: Congressman John Lewis
President and CEO
Coxe Curry & Associates
David Eidson is president and CEO of Coxe Curry & Associates, a fundraising consulting firm that works with major local institutions including the Bobby Jones Golf Course Foundation, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Grady Health Foundation, Trees Atlanta, and the YMCA of Metro Atlanta. He joined the organization in 2012 after 27 years in the financial sector; previously Eidson was chairman and CEO of the SunTrust subsidiary RidgeWorth Capital Management, where he worked with nonprofit boards and finance committees to oversee the management of their organizations’ investable assets.
Education: Auburn University
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Why I chose this work: The first 27 years of my professional career I worked in various parts of the SunTrust organization, and I was introduced very early in my career to the non-profit community. SunTrust encouraged me to be involved in leadership roles—on various boards and on committees of nonprofits. That exposure to those organizations created a desire to be more involved, and I decided I wanted to turn my avocation for the nonprofit world into my vocation.
President and CEO
Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
Frank Fernandez joined the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta in 2020. Formerly with the Blank Foundation, he led the Westside Neighborhood Prosperity Fund, a program designed to contribute to the revitalization of Vine City, English Avenue, Castleberry Hill, and adjacent neighborhoods. He also supported the foundation’s efforts in global giving, health access, and community development. An expert on housing, transportation, and economic development, Fernandez served for eight years as executive director of Green Doors, a nonprofit group devoted to transforming lives and neighborhoods for people in need in the Austin, Texas, metro area. He has worked extensively to help create housing solutions across the income spectrum.
Education: Harvard University, University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs (MPA)
First job: Landscaper for my high school to pay for tuition
Hobbies: Reading, watching sports, hiking
Favorite travel destination: La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
Nancy A. Flake Johnson
President and CEO
Urban League of Greater Atlanta
Nancy Flake Johnson returned to Atlanta from Detroit in 2008 to become president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta and engage her passion for promoting economic development and equity by empowering African American youth, adults, and families. By building partnerships, Johnson increased the League’s impact on housing, education, business development, and employment in underrepresented communities. The League partnered with the City of Atlanta to create a Youth Development Grant program for local community-based organizations that serve Atlanta students in grades K-12 as so many Atlanta youth were adversely affected by the pandemic. Johnson started her career as an accountant and was the first woman to lead the Howard University Small Business Development Center.
Education: Howard University, DePaul University (MS)
Hometown: Detroit, Michigan
Notable achievement: Atlanta Business Chronicle Women Who Mean Business (2020)
Inspiring person: Congressman John Lewis for his courage, unwavering strength, and commitment to breaking down systems of oppression and institutional racism, and fighting for justice and voting rights.
F. Sheffield Hale
President and CEO
Atlanta History Center
F. Sheffield Hale became president and CEO of the Atlanta History Center in 2012. Previously he was chief counsel of the American Cancer Society and a partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, where he practiced corporate law. An Atlanta native, Hale is a trustee of the Partners for Sacred Places, the Buckhead Coalition, Midtown Alliance, and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, and trustee emeritus of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He is past chair of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, the Atlanta History Center, and the Judicial Nominating Commission of Georgia.
Education: University of Georgia, University of Virginia School of Law (JD)
Notable achievements: Buckhead Business Association Sam Massell Bullish on Buckhead Award (2015), Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Mary Gregory Jewett Award for Lifetime Preservation Service (2014), State Bar of Georgia Justice Robert Benham Award for Community Service (2001)
First job: Clerk at Brookwood Hardware
Best advice received: It’s the last 5 percent that counts.
Since 2013, Michael Halicki has served as the executive director of Park Pride, the Atlanta-based nonprofit that engages communities to activate the power of parks. Under his leadership, Park Pride works with government, philanthropic partners, and more than 150 Friends of the Park groups toward a vision of an Atlanta strengthened by and united through great parks, trails, and green spaces. His guidance in fundraising, public relations, advocacy, and program development has earned Park Pride national recognition, as well as four-star designation by Charity Navigator and Candid’s Platinum Seal of Transparency for several years running.
Education: Indiana University, Georgia State University (MPA)
Notable achievements: Graduate of the Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership (2013) and the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Leadership Institute (2009)
Why I chose this work: I care deeply for our city and the role parks can play in strengthening neighborhoods and communities. Neighborhoods without parks aren’t neighborhoods—they are just housing.
First job: Newspaper delivery boy
Paul Russell Hardin
Robert W. Woodruff Foundation
Russ Hardin directs a broad range of charitable giving as president of the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, Lettie Pate Evans Foundation, and Lettie Pate Whitehead Foundation. The foundations primarily support organizations in metro Atlanta. They were created by Robert W. Woodruff, a philanthropist and former president of the Coca-Cola Co., and the family of Joseph B. Whitehead, one of the original Coca-Cola bottlers.
Education: University of Virginia, Duke University School of Law (JD)
Board memberships: Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Genuine Parts Co., SunTrust Bank Atlanta Advisory Council, Commerce Club
Why I chose this work: Opportunity for impact
First job: Newspaper delivery boy
What I’d tell a recent graduate: Work at something you love.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Truist Park
The Come Up Project featuring Gangstas To Growers
Born to a Liberian mother and a Black Panther Party member father, Abiodun “Abi” Henderson is the founder of the Come Up Project, which features a cooperative business training program, based in agriculture, entitled Gangstas to Growers. Geared toward at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth, the program, which provides employment, empowerment, and entrepreneurship opportunities, enables graduates to join the Atlanta hot sauce cooperative Sweet Sol. Program participants grow and harvest the ingredients, then make the hot sauce themselves. Additionally, Henderson has been a community organizer in Westside Atlanta for 10 years. Under her leadership as garden coordinator, the Westview Community Garden is now community owned after being bulldozed in 2015. In 2020, Henderson received a James Beard Leadership Award which spotlights the important and complex realms of sustainability, food justice, and public health.
Most inspiring person: My ancestors of the Kru tribe in Liberia, who were known as the hardest to enslave, taught me to fight for freedom by any means necessary.
Co-founder, Senior Director Community Engagement
Jen Hidinger-Kendrick, along with her late husband, Ryan Hidinger, is a co-founder of Giving Kitchen, a nonprofit that offers emergency assistance to food service workers. She advises on brand awareness and community involvement. As spokesperson, she has received the Community Hero Award from the Atlanta Braves and Fox Sports South, and has been featured on the covers of Entrepreneur and Atlanta magazine. As co-founder of the acclaimed Staplehouse Restaurant, she was a key member of the team that earned Bon Appétit magazine’s Best New Restaurant in America in 2016 and a nomination as Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation. Joining GK full-time in 2019, she was proud to share the stage with colleagues in receiving the James Beard Foundation’s 2019 Humanitarian of the Year award.
Education: Indiana University
Toughest challenge: The death of my husband when I was just 31
Hobbies: Turning my house into a haunted house for Halloween and hanging with my rad husband and young son
Bucket list: A trip back to Australia sometime in adulthood. I studied abroad while in college and have always wanted to return.
Clyde A. Higgs
President and CEO
As president and CEO of the Atlanta BeltLine since 2019, Clyde A. Higgs leads the executive team in overseeing the design and construction of transit, trails, and parks, plus affordable housing, economic development, real estate, external affairs, and procurement. Higgs joined the BeltLine organization in 2015 as chief operating officer; previously he served as executive vice president of a collaborative, multibillion-dollar revitalization and economic development effort led by the state of North Carolina and real estate developer Castle & Cooke. He has 20 years’ experience in economic development, real estate, intellectual property, technology, strategic planning, design, real estate development, grant and donor funding, government relations, and urban innovation.
Education: University of South Alabama, East Carolina University (MPA)
First job: Shrimp boat laborer
Hidden talent: Ping-pong champion
Notable achievement: Appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Emerging Technology Venture Fund for early-stage companies working on innovations in the fields of biotechnology, healthcare, energy, and information technology.
Raphael Holloway is CEO of the Gateway Center, which provides services and stable housing for people experiencing homelessness. Holloway has more than 25 years of experience in the social services arena, specializing in the behavioral health, correction, homelessness, and public health sectors. Before joining the Gateway Center in 2016, he was chief operations officer for Families First and, prior to that, director of the HIV unit of the Georgia Department of Public Health. Holloway, who is a member of Leadership Atlanta’s class of 2020, serves on the advisory council for Agape Youth and Family Center and on the board of the Georgia Supportive Housing Association.
Education: Bowling Green State University (MA)
Hometown: Toledo, Ohio
Inspiring person: Muhammad Ali
Toughest challenge: Being temporarily homeless at 15
Favorite book: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
Favorite song about Georgia: “Georgia on My Mind” by Ray Charles
Executive Vice President, Southeast Region
American Cancer Society
Kimberly Jackson is executive vice president of the American Cancer Society’s Southeast Region, which serves communities in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Under her leadership, the Southeast Region serves thousands of cancer patients and caregivers, engages volunteers to support community-based programs, inspires and equips companies to provide healthy workplaces, and raises more than $46 million annually to save lives and rid the world of cancer. Formerly, Jackson served in multiple leadership roles at the American Heart Association, including senior vice president and executive director for metro Atlanta.
Education: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
Hometown: Waldorf, Maryland
Hidden talent: Knitting Notable achievements Leadership Atlanta class of 2023
Why I chose this work: I lost my mom to colorectal cancer and was her caregiver.
Big Brothers Big Sisters Metro Atlanta
Kwame Johnson is president and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters Metro Atlanta, overseeing the largest and most effective youth mentoring agency in Georgia. Prior to his current position, Johnson served as executive director of the Greater Atlanta Region for PowerMyLearning, where he increased the organization’s revenue by 65 percent and program reach by 115 percent within three years. Johnson has received national recognition for his work to include the Social Entrepreneur Program of the Year Award from the Manhattan Institute. The Syracuse, New York, native recently received the Atlanta Business Chronicle 2020 Most Admired CEO Award and the Atlanta Business League 2020 Men of Influence Award. He is a recent graduate of Leadership Atlanta.
Education: University of Maryland; NYU, Babson, and Harvard University (Executive Education Certificates in Nonprofit Strategy and Fundraising)
First job: Snow shoveler in Syracuse
Something few know about you: I can jump over 50 inches in the air.
President and CEO
Historic District Development Corporation
Cheneé Joseph is the president and CEO of the Historic District Development Corporation, Atlanta’s oldest surviving community development corporation, which has spearheaded nearly four decades of urban revitalization work in Sweet Auburn. Previously Joseph served as a project consultant at Draper & Associates, where she managed budgets and schedules for various capital improvement and demolition projects totaling $17 million in the Atlanta Housing Authority portfolio. She was also AHA’s senior manager of neighborhood revitalization, planning and implementing neighborhood stabilization and development projects to meet the goals and strategies outlined in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods program for Ashview Heights, Vine City, and the Atlanta University Center. Joseph is chair of the Atlanta BeltLine
Affordable Housing Advisory Board.
Eduation: Georgia State University, Georgia Tech (MA)
Favorite travel destination: Havana, Cuba
Favorite Atlanta podcast: Archive Atlanta
The Marcus Foundation
As president of the Marcus Foundation, Jay Kaiman’s role is to facilitate the philanthropic vision of Bernie Marcus, cofounder of the Home Depot. The foundation focuses its giving on children, medical research, free enterprise, Israel, and Jewish causes. Kaiman joined the foundation in 2002. He moved to Atlanta in 1996 to become Southeast director of the Anti-
Education: University of Florida
Hometown: Pensacola, Florida
Notable achievement: Anti-Defamation League Milton A. Senn Award for Professional Excellence (1999)
Why I chose this work: Inspired by the opportunity to have impact on making a difference in people’s lives, fulfilling the entrepreneurial agenda set forth by Bernie Marcus. Serving in this capacity is an honor and true adventure—approaching problems with creative ideas and solutions.
Few people know: I collect hourglasses. Time is our most precious treasure.
Toughest challenge: Life balance
James C. Kennedy
Chairman Emeritus and Chairman
James M. Cox Foundation
James C. Kennedy is chairman emeritus and chairman of the James M. Cox Foundation. Additionally, Kennedy was the former CEO of Cox Enterprises, a privately held broadband, media, and automotive-services company founded by his grandfather, James M. Cox, in 1898. Kennedy joined in 1972 as a production assistant in Cox’s newspaper division, and held various positions including reporter, copy editor, business manager, and executive vice president/general manager. He was named chairman and CEO in 1988. During Kennedy’s tenure, Cox increased annual revenues from $1.88 billion to nearly $20 billion.
Education: University of Denver
Hometown: Honolulu, Hawaii
Notable achievements: A former competitive cyclist, Kennedy is a past Masters National, Pan American, and World champion in the 3,000-meter pursuit. He served as captain of a four-man team that won the Race Across America in 1992, setting a world record.
Hobbies: Avid outdoorsman
Nonprofits: Education, healthcare, sustainability
The Kendeda Fund
As executive director of the Kendeda Fund, Dena Kimball leads a philanthropic organization that seeks to empower communities to solve their problems, particularly by supporting underrepresented voices and leaders willing to challenge conventional thinking. She also oversees the fund’s Girls’ Rights program, which aims to empower girls worldwide. Kimball previously served as vice president of network support for Teach for All and vice president of alumni affairs and deputy vice president of admissions for Teach for America.
Education: Emory University, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government (MPP)
Bernice A. King
Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change
A global thought leader, orator, and peace advocate, Bernice A. King advances her parents’ legacy as CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. Since taking the helm in 2012, she’s guided an expansion of the center’s Nonviolence365 education and training initiative, engaged young people around the country in interactive virtual talks, launched a series of Beloved Community conversations on difficult racial issues, and updated the King Center campus. In 2020 the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gave King its Phoenix Award, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to society.
Education: Spelman College, Emory University (MDiv, JD)
Notable achievements: Spoke in her mother’s stead at the United Nations at age 17, spearheaded the global event Let Freedom Ring and Call to Action to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, authored Hard Questions, Heart Answers
First job: Summer camp counselor
Best advice received: Don’t make a decision in anger.
Raymond B. King
President and CEO
In 2010, Raymond King became president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta, the city’s oldest cultural institution and one of its largest. During his tenure, King has grown attendance from 675,000 to 1 million annually, and led the institution in raising more than $63 million in philanthropic support to modernize the facilities—more than was raised cumulatively in the past 25 years. King previously spent 22 years with SunTrust Banks, most recently as senior vice president for community affairs in Atlanta, and has chaired and served on numerous boards.
Education: Georgia Tech
Notable achievements: United Way Chairman’s Award (2009), Woodruff Arts Center Charles R. Yates Award for Outstanding Service (2003)
President and CEO
YMCA of Metro Atlanta
The first female president and CEO in the history of the YMCA of Metro Atlanta, Lauren Koontz leads the organization’s efforts to ensure that all people—especially children—experience an equal opportunity to fully reach their potential. She works to make the YMCA a best-in-class provider of education, wellness, and youth development programs designed to strengthen Atlanta communities. Koontz joined the organization in 2012 as its chief development officer and became executive vice president in 2016. Previously she served in leadership roles at Coxe Curry & Associates, Emory University School of Medicine, Mount Vernon Presbyterian School, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Education: University of Georgia, Georgia State University Robinson College of Business (MBA)
Hometown: Saint Simons Island, Georgia
Notable achievement: 2016 recipient of the YMCA’s highest honor: the “Sully” Award, named for Thomas Sullivan, YMCA’s founder in the U.S. Koontz was one of Atlanta magazine’s Women Making a Mark in 2020.
Andrew J. Young Foundation
Gaurav Kumar is president of the Andrew J. Young Foundation. After taking over in April 2020, he organized Covid-19 aid to Liberia, and he also played a critical role in sending oxygen concentrators to India during the second wave of Covid in that country. Prior to that, Kumar worked with Ambassador Andrew Young at his foundation on world-changing innovations in the role of director/social innovations. A native of India, Kumar previously worked at the National Monuments Foundation, where he developed the initial plan of the $45 million Rodney Cook Park in Vine City, which opened in July 2021. He also oversaw the construction and placement of the statue of U.S. Rep. John Lewis in the park.
Education: Birla Institute of Technology and IRIMEE, Jamalpur, India; Georgia State University (MS); IGNOU, India (MA)
First job: Engineer at Indian Railroads
Hidden talent: I’m a very good singer and play guitar.
Bucket list: To write a book
Founder and Executive Director
Love Beyond Walls
Terence Lester is a minister, speaker, community activist, and the founder of Love Beyond Walls, a nonprofit focused on poverty awareness and community mobilization. During the pandemic, the organization, which advocates on behalf of those who are poor and unhoused, began providing portable handwashing stations as a part of its Love Sinks In initiative. Its Dignity Museum offers an interactive exhibit demonstrating the conditions that people have to endure every day as they wrestle with poverty and homelessness. A native of Atlanta, Lester has been featured in USA Today and on Good Morning America, and he’s the author of a number of books, including I See You: How Love Opens Our Eyes to Invisible People.
Education: American InterContinental University, Atlanta Bible College, Liberty University (MA, EdM)
First job: A shoe store in Greenbriar Mall
Best advice received: Never be a public success and a private failure.
Favorite movie: Coming to America
Favorite Atlanta podcast: The Diversity Gap
Bucket list: Have a film made about my life!
Milton James Little Jr.
United Way of Greater Atlanta
Milton J. Little Jr. became the first African American president of United Way of Greater Atlanta in 2007. In that role, he’s helped raise more than half a billion dollars for local community needs and redirected the organization’s focus to increasing the well-being of the region’s children. Before joining United Way of Greater Atlanta, the largest United Way in the U.S., Little served as chief operating officer and interim president of the National Urban League. He serves on many boards and advisory groups, including the Southern Education Foundation and the J.W. Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia.
Education: Morehouse College, Columbia University (MA)
Hometown: Roosevelt, New York
First job: Busboy at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, New York
Why I chose this work: To live a life of service in honor of my parents, who taught me the value of making a difference in the lives of others.
Few people know: I’ve studied Eagle Claw kung fu and the Israeli fighting style Krav Maga for many years, and I meditate.
Vice President, Global Community Affairs
The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Foundation
Saadia Madsbjerg is vice president of Global Community Affairs for the Coca-Cola Company and president of the Coca-Cola Foundation. Madsbjerg joined the company in 2021 and manages operations of the foundation, which includes grant making, financial requirements, and regulatory compliance for domestic and international philanthropy. Before joining the Coca-Cola Company, Madsbjerg was a managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation, where she led efforts to seed fund the development and launch of new financial instruments and partnerships designed to channel money from capital markets toward sustainable development. Prior to her position at the Rockefeller Foundation, Madsbjerg was senior vice president for strategic planning at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Madsbjerg serves on the board of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation and is a member of the Carter Center’s Board of Councilors. Her work has been featured in publications such as Harvard Business Review, and she is the coauthor of Making Money Moral: How a New Wave of Visionaries Is Linking Purpose and Profit.
Education: Copenhagen Business School (MS)
Mary Pat Matheson
President and CEO
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Its leader since 2002, Mary Pat Matheson has built the membership of the Atlanta Botanical Garden to more than 40,000. She spearheaded a $55 million capital campaign, completed in 2012, that doubled the garden to 30 acres and added a visitor center, parking facility, canopy walk, and edible garden. A more recent $50 million campaign provided other enhancements, including a new restaurant and renovated children’s garden. Matheson was also responsible for the development of a 185-acre satellite garden in Gainesville. She was named board chair of the Midtown Alliance in 2022.
Education: University of Utah (EMPA)
Notable achievements: American Horticultural Society Professional of the Year (2005), Public Broadcasting Atlanta Lexus Leader of the Arts. Past president of the American Public Gardens Association. Responsible for introducing Atlanta to the work of internationally acclaimed artists such as Dale Chihuly, Henry Moore, and Niki de Saint Phalle through garden exhibitions.
Regional Vice President, Southeast
Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
The Salisbury, Maryland, native is a career fundraiser who has worked for other notable organizations, including her alma mater Hampton University, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and UNCF. McEachin is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the Atlanta Business League, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Education: Hampton University
Notable achievemets: Established the Annual Fund at Hampton University, raising over $1 million in just five years; Secured the largest one-time gift to Georgia Piedmont Technical College; Secured Susan G. Komen’s first national corporate partnership with a multimillion-dollar Black-owned beauty brand.
First job: Chick-fil-A
Favorite travel destination: Antigua
Carol R. Naughton
Purpose Built Communities
Carol Naughton is president of Purpose Built Communities, a nonprofit dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in urban neighborhoods nationwide. She previously served as executive director of the East Lake Foundation and general counsel for the Atlanta Housing Authority, where she played an instrumental role in revitalizing traditional public housing communities into economically viable, self-sustaining, mixed-income communities. Naughton was a key member of the leadership team that transformed AHA into a national leader in community development.
Education: Colgate University, Emory University School of Law (JD)
First job: Camp counselor at Tawasentha Park in New York
Best advice received: When someone offers to help, let them.
Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Bucket list: Alaska
Rev. Louis Enrique Negrón, Sr.
Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer
100 Black Man of Atlanta Inc.
Louis Negrón was named executive director and chief operating officer of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta in 2021. Born and raised in Oakland, California, Negrón gained his first nonprofit experience as an intern with the Children’s Defense Fund. After a decade-long stint in higher education, he returned to the nonprofit world, where he worked with agencies such as Year Up, United Way of Atlanta, United Way of Transylvania County, Operation HOPE, and Supportive Housing Communities.
Education: Morehouse College, Central Michigan University (MA), Mercer University at the McAfee School of Theology (MA)
Toughest challenge: In 2016, I had a stroke. I also went through a divorce. Those two experiences lead to my spiritual awakening.
What you’d tell your 18-year-old self: Value your time and respect yourself. Don’t worry about what others think. Follow your heart.
President and CEO
Michelle Nunn joined CARE USA as president and CEO in 2015 and leads a global team of 7,000 people working in more than 100 countries to save lives, defeat poverty, and achieve social justice. During her tenure CARE has taken its fundraising and impact to new levels, including fiscal year 2021 revenue that was the highest in the organization’s history and programs that reached more than 90 million people. Nunn has devoted her career to public service, cofounding the volunteer-mobilization organization Hands On Atlanta, growing it into a national network, and overseeing its merger with the Points of Light Foundation. She served as CEO of the resultant organization, Points of Light—the world’s largest dedicated to volunteer service—from 2007 to 2013.
Education: University of Virginia, Harvard University (MPA)
First job: Park ranger. I operated the elevator of the Washington Monument one summer.
Toughest challenge: Entering into the political arena in my run for U.S. Senate in 2014 was the hardest thing I have ever done. And it was awfully tough to lose. Fortunately, I had family and friends to lift me up and put things in perspective.
We Love Buford Highway
Lily Pabian joined We Love Buford Highway in 2019 as the agency’s new executive director, bringing over 30 years of experience of bridging businesses, consultancy, and nonprofits. As the mission of We Love Buford Highway is to preserve the multicultural identity of Atlanta’s Buford Highway, Pabian is passionate about all things related to culture, diversity, and engagement. As a Chinese American and Atlanta native, she felt like the Buford Highway corridor—an approximately ten-mile stretch of state road internationally recognized for its sizeable immigrant and refugee population, restaurants, and shops—was her family’s first home in the city. In 2021 and 2022, Pabian was recognized as one of Georgia Asian Times’ 25 Most Influential Asian Americans in the state. Additionally, Pabian was named a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award honoree by the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 2021 and noted among its Power 100, Atlanta’s most influential advocates, in 2022. Pabian is also a wife and mother of three young adults.
Education: Georgia State University
First job: Chinese Combo King, Lenox Mall circa early 1990
Favorite Atlanta podcast: Voices of a Highway
Keith T. Parker
President and CEO
Goodwill of North Georgia
Keith T. Parker is president and CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the Southeast. It spans a 45-county territory, 67 stores, 53 attended donation centers, and 13 career centers. Goodwill employs over 3,000 team members, each of whom plays a direct or supporting role in the organization’s donated goods retail operations and its career services. Store revenue enables Goodwill to connect tens of thousands of North Georgians to jobs every year. Before joining Goodwill in 2017, Parker served as CEO of transit systems in several cities, including San Antonio, Charlotte, and, most recently, Atlanta.
Education: Virginia Commonwealth University (MURP), University of Richmond (MBA)
Notable achievements: Member of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council since 2016, American Public Transportation Association Outstanding Public Transportation Manager (2015), Texas CEO of the Year (2011 and 2012)
Why I chose this work: I love the purity of Goodwill’s mission to put people to work. Nothing changes a person’s life more than finding sustainable employment.
Founder and Executive Director
Latino Community Fund
Gigi Pedraza is the founding executive director of the Latino Community Fund Georgia, a grantmaking public charity dedicated to catalyzing investment and promoting collaborative work in the Latinx/Hispanic community. With 39 member organizations across the state, LCF Georgia amplifies the diverse voices within the community through advocacy, research, and leadership development, builds capacity in community-based organizations, and directly invests in families and Latinx-led member organizations through scholarships and grants. Playing an active role in Georgia’s Latinx community, Pedraza is a social entrepreneur and experienced professional in the areas of general management, strategy, operations, marketing, and development.
Education: College of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (MA)
Hometown: Lima, Peru
Notable achievements: Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame (2020), National Football League Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award (2018)
First job: I made clay figurines with my mom to make money in Peru when I was 12-14 years old.
Jonathan T.M. Reckford
Habitat for Humanity International
Under the leadership of CEO Jonathan T.M. Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International has greatly expanded its impact, serving 125,000 individuals annually when he arrived in 2005 and more than 4.2 million in 2021. Before coming to Habitat, Reckford was executive pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church near Minneapolis. He spent much of his earlier career in executive and managerial positions at for-profit companies including Goldman Sachs, Marriott, Walt Disney, and Best Buy.
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Stanford Graduate School of Business (MBA)
Notable achievements: Chair of Leadership 18 and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the World Economic Forum’s Urban Steering Committee; author of the book Our Better Angels: Seven Simple Virtues That Will Change Your Life and the World
Why I chose this work: I believe that a safe, decent, affordable home is the foundation for a better life for a family.
First job: Delivering the Chapel Hill newspaper beginning in fifth grade
Eric M. Robbins
President and CEO
Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
Eric Robbins came to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta in 2016 with a vision to increase its relevance in the community and share its inspirational story. For the previous 12 years he led Camp Twin Lakes, a network of camps for children with serious illnesses and other life challenges. Since joining the federation, Robbins’s transformational mindset has enabled the organization to articulate a modern vision of its role, which has led to a growth in overall philanthropic giving, new program and partnership opportunities, and a renewed spirit of collective community among the organizations that serve Jewish Atlanta. Robbins is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta.
Education: Georgia State University, Yeshiva University (MSW)
Notable achievements: Georgia State University Alumni of the Year (2017), Atlanta Business Chronicle Who’s Who in Nonprofits (2014, 2015, 2016), Leadership Atlanta class of 2009
Toughest challenge: Cancer
Few people know: I was in a Subaru commercial.
Anthony Rodriguez is the first executive director of HUB404 Conservancy, a nine-acre “cap park” that will be above GA 400 between Peachtree and Lenox roads and provide a direct connection to MARTA’s Buckhead rail station. HUB404, an estimated $250 million project, is expected to be complete by 2025. At Aurora Theatre, which Rodriguez cofounded more than 20 years ago with Ann-Carol Pence, Rodriguez negotiated Aurora’s recent $35 million, 59,500-square-foot expansion into the Lawrenceville Arts Center, which opened in 2021. An Atlanta native, Rodriguez is a graduate of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Leadership Institute, and in 2016 was the first Latino and the first arts leader to serve as chair of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.
Education: University of Georgia
Notable achievement: Leadership Atlanta class of 2022
First job: Running a jackhammer
Hidden talent: I’m an excellent cook.
Favorite movie: All That Jazz
Bucket list: Dive the Great Barrier Reef
Carol Sargent Collard
Carol Collard became a passionate participant in the fight to reduce homelessness while working for Progressive Redevelopment Inc. In 1998, Collard returned to school to study social work and ultimately earned a PhD in the field. The New Orleans native has worked for more than 20 years in supportive housing and in grappling with the complex issues that can result in homelessness. Her combined expertise has given her the ability to operate a nonprofit agency with a caring heart and a mind for business. At CaringWorks, which she cofounded, she oversees a 90-plus member team that operates supportive housing and behavioral health programs across metro Atlanta, resulting in ending homelessness for over 10,000 households. She is a licensed master social worker and is also an associate professor of social work at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw.
Education: Loyola University, New Orleans; University of Georgia (MSW, PhD)
Hobbies: Travel, reading, discovering new restaurants
President and CEO
National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Jill Savitt, president and CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, is a longtime human rights advocate with special expertise in genocide prevention. Savitt joined the center in 2019 after working as acting director of the Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Having led the center through the pandemic, Savitt is focused on helping the center fulfill the vision of its founders, evolving from an Atlanta attraction to a national cultural institution focused on rights. The evolution includes an expansion. The center will be adding two new wings to its iconic building and investing in a range of programming: including civil rights history education, DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) experiences for workplaces, human rights training for law enforcement, and commemorations for buried or neglected history.
First job: Radio reporter
Inspiring person: Eleanor Roosevelt
Lesson learned: Change is the only constant.
Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship
As Intuit Mailchimp’s senior director of corporate citizenship, Lain Shakespeare leads a program that now invests $2 million a year in the Atlanta community. Another of Shakespeare’s initiatives, Mailchimp Community College, is a partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta that connects employees with civic leaders with the aim of fostering greater equity. A native of Decatur, Shakespeare was formerly executive director of the Wren’s Nest, dedicated to the legacy of his great-great-great-grandfather, the folklorist Joel Chandler Harris.
Hometown: Kenyon College
First job: Summer-league swim coach at Cherokee Town Club
Favorite book: Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
Favorite travel destination: Taking Amtrak to New Orleans
Who’d play me in a biopic: Robert Redford 40 years ago, or present-day Tilda Swinton
Senior Vice President and Executive Director
American Heart Association of Metro Atlanta
As the senior vice president and executive director of the metro Atlanta market for the American Heart Association, Smith oversees the strategy and execution of corporate revenue, communications, community, and health equity impact goals for the 11-county metro Atlanta area. Smith recently facilitated the launch of the Bernard J. Tyson Fund that has invested $2.45 million in local farms and food organizations addressing nutrition security in metro Atlanta; implemented programs providing Covid-19 relief assistance and support to uninsured and underinsured communities for hypertension management; and supported the barbershop/hair salon initiative that offers assistance to barbers and stylists to educate their patrons about blood pressure management.
Education: Paine College, University of Georgia (MSW)
First job: Photo developer at Eckerd Pharmacy
Favorite Atlanta restaurant: The Busy Bee
Favorite song about Georgia: “Georgia on My Mind” by Ella Fitzgerald
Cofounder and CEO
LEAD, LEAD Center for Youth
A former Chicago Cubs outfielder, C.J. Stewart founded the nonprofit organization LEAD—which stands for Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct—with his wife, Kelli, to empower an at-risk generation to lead and transform their city. For young men who have completed LEAD’s Ambassador program, 100 percent have graduated from high school and 93 percent have enrolled in college. As founder and CEO of the player development firm Diamond Directors, Stewart has worked with clients including Jason Heyward (Chicago Cubs), Andruw Jones (former Atlanta Brave), and Kyle Lewis (Seattle Mariners).
Why I chose this work: Baseball can provide valuable life lessons and access to educational and civic engagement opportunities. Kelli and I committed our lives in 2007 to using baseball as a vehicle to help Black boys in the inner city of Atlanta overcome three curveballs that threaten their success: crime, poverty, and racism.
First job: Cutting grass in my neighborhood in Northwest Atlanta
Best advice recieved: Greatness can’t be imposed. It has to come from within. But it does live within all of us.
Cofounder and Executive Director
LEAD, LEAD Center for Youth
Kelli Stewart is the executive director of the nonprofit organization LEAD, which she cofounded with her husband, C.J. Standing for Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct, LEAD aims to create positive outcomes for at-risk youth through a combination of athletics, education, and service. Born in Atlanta and raised in rural Oglethorpe County, Stewart also oversees the baseball player development firm Diamond Directors with her husband. LEAD provides inner-city boys with the same opportunities to excel in life through baseball as the Stewarts’ clients receive through Diamond Directors.
Education: Kennesaw State University Coles College of Business
Why I chose this work: I had to navigate a lot of trauma as a child. Living with addiction in my household, surviving abuse, etc., got me acquainted with oppressive systems at an early age. Although I didn’t understand what they were at the time, as I’ve grown in knowledge I understand more about systemic racism and how it keeps Black communities in despair and disarray. I’ve always wanted to be a part of dismantling it.
President and CEO
As president and CEO of MAP International since 2014, Steve Stirling helps provide life-saving medicine to roughly 14 million people around the world each year. His passion is personal: As an infant in South Korea, he contracted polio, which could have been prevented by a vaccine. He previously worked for pharmaceutical firms including Johnson & Johnson and American Home Products, and for nonprofits World Vision, Heifer International, and ChildFund International. Stirling’s autobiography, The Crutch of Success: From Polio to Purpose, Bringing Health & Hope to the World, was published in 2019.
Education: Cornell University, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management (MBA)
Why I chose this work: I transitioned from the corporate world to nonprofits in order to be a voice for voiceless children who need help in life.
Best advice received: All things are possible.
Toughest challenge: Overcoming obstacles related to having polio
Few people know: I took a dog-mushing class at the University of Alaska.
The Kendeda Fund
As a fund adviser at the Kendeda Fund, Tené Traylor oversees the organization’s Atlanta portfolio, leading major investments that drive equitable access to high-quality K-12 education and economic justice, with an emphasis on long-term affordability, community wealth building, and accessible quality transit. She also manages a national portfolio dedicated to restoring and reclaiming dignity for formerly incarcerated people. Before joining Kendeda in 2016, Traylor was a senior program officer for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, leading its community development and neighborhood transformation grantmaking for nearly a decade. She’s the cofounder and current board chair of the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.
Education: Georgia State University, University of Georgia (MPA)
Best advice recieved: My mother reminds me often to rest. She says, “Rest your body before your body rest you.”
Few people know: I am a Marvel and DC Comics fan.
Favorite movie: Imitation of Life
Laura Turner Seydel
Captain Planet Foundation
Laura Turner Seydel, an environmental advocate and eco-living expert, is chairperson of the Captain Planet Foundation, which seeks to empower the next generation of changemakers. For more than three decades the foundation has been committed to working collaboratively to engage young people to be problem solvers for the planet. Seydel is the co-founder of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and Mothers and Others for Clean Air and serves on the boards for the Children & Nature Network, Nuclear Threat Initiative, Project Drawdown, Carter Center Board of Councilors, and on the advisory board for the Ray C. Anderson Foundation.
Education: Oglethorpe University
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
President and Director
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation
As president and director of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Fay Twersky also serves on the executive leadership team of the Blank Family of Businesses—the full portfolio of socially minded enterprises, including the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, PGA TOUR Superstore, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Mountain Sky Guest Ranch, Paradise Valley Ranch, and West Creek Ranch. The Philadelphia native joined the Blank Family Foundation from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, California, where she served as vice president. She created, launched, and led Hewlett’s Effective Philanthropy Group, an internal team dedicated to organizational effectiveness and responsible for guiding strategy, evaluation, and organizational learning.
Education: University of California-Berkley, MIT (MA)
Hobbies: Swimming, Cycling
Favorite travel destination: Jerusalem
Bucket list: Transcontinental train ride across Canada
A Georgia native who grew up fishing and boating on the Chattahoochee River, Jason Ulseth developed an early love for the waterway and the natural environment. In 2015 he took on the role of riverkeeper for the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper organization, serving as spokesperson and lead advocate for river protection. Previously he was CRK’s technical programs director. Ulseth also serves as the group’s patrol boat captain and is licensed as a merchant marine officer by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Education: University of Georgia
Hidden talent: I can juggle swords.
What I’d tell a recent graduate: Public speaking is not as hard as you think it is.
Favorite Atlanta place to visit: Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area
Bucket list: Catching a record brown trout
President & CEO
Atlanta Community Food Bank
Kyle Waide is president and CEO of the Atlanta Community Food Bank, overseeing the distribution of nearly 75 million pounds of food and grocery products each year through a network of 700 local and regional partner non-profit organizations across 29 Georgia counties. Prior to being named CEO, Waide served for three years as vice president of partner operations, leading the organization to record-breaking years of food distribution to the hungry. Prior to joining the food bank, he held several management roles at the Home Depot Inc. He currently serves as chair of the Southeast Regional Cooperative and vice chair of the Georgia Food Bank Association.
Education: Harvard University, University of Arizona (MFA)
Notable accomplishments: Completed $57 million capital campaign resulting in the construction of the largest single food bank facility in the world
Few people know: I attended the MFA / Writers Workshop at the University of Arizona as a short story writer and essayist.
Peter S. Berg
Peter Berg became senior rabbi of the Temple, a Reform synagogue in Atlanta, in 2008—its fifth leader since 1895. An advocate for social change, he is committed to teaching, building community, and addressing the needs of his congregants. A chaplain for the Georgia State Patrol, Berg also serves on numerous boards and works with advocacy groups on issues including civil rights, the death penalty, gun safety, and hate crimes.
Education: George Washington University, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (MA and rabbinic ordination)
Hometown: Ocean Township, New Jersey
First job: Cashier at a thrift store
Favorite travel destination: Jerusalem
Who’d play me in a biopic: Actor and filmmaker Peter Berg
Big Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
A former academic who taught electrical engineering and computer science at institutions including Tuskegee University and Morehouse College, John Foster brought technological advances like live video and audio streaming to Big Bethel AME Church, where he serves as senior pastor. He’s also focused on enhancing youth and young adult ministries. Foster previously served as pastor for AME churches in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, and has held administrative positions including vice provost, dean, and department head at various academic institutions.
Education: Tuskegee University, Interdenominational Theological Center (MDiv), Stanford University (MS, PhD)
Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Passion City Church
Louie Giglio is pastor of Passion City Church and the original visionary of the Passion movement, which exists “to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.” Since 1997, Passion has gathered college-aged young people in events across the U.S. and around the world. Most recently, Passion hosted more than 50,000 in Mercedes-Benz Stadium and 1 million people joined online. Giglio is the bestselling author of Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table, Not Forsaken, Goliath Must Fall, Indescribable: 100 Devotions about God & Science, The Comeback, The Air I Breathe, I Am Not but I Know I Am, and more.
Education: Georgia State University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv)
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Michael R. Griffin
Public Affairs Representative
Georgia Baptist Mission Board Public Affairs MinistryIn 2014, Mike Griffin became the public affairs representative for the Georgia Baptist Convention, representing 1.4 million Georgia Baptists at the Capitol and speaking on religious issues around the state. In April 2010, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on “Georgia Influencers” ranked Griffin at 11th among Republicans with the most influence at the Capitol. A Southern Baptist pastor for 35 years, Griffin is also a former president of the board of Ten Commandments Georgia and a past vice president of Georgia Right to Life, where he also served as a lobbyist and state field director. He is the former senior pastor at Liberty Baptist Church in Hartwell.
Education: Baptist College of Florida
Why I chose this work: The very unique work of being a pastor and a lobbyist goes back to when God called me to preach when I was 16. I preached my first sermon at Dawson Street Baptist Church in Thomasville, Georgia, in 1977.
First job: Working in sheet metal for the purpose of installing heating and air-conditioning duct work
Best advice received: From my father: Never leave a job undone. Always complete your work. Always do your best.
Peachtree Presbyterian Church
The Rev. Dr. Richard Kannwischer has served as senior pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church since January 2017. Before he arrived at Peachtree, Richard was lead pastor at Saint Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, California, for seven years. He has served as a trustee of all undergraduate and graduate schools he attended, and currently serves on the board of the Fox Theatre.
Education: Trinity University, Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv), Fuller Theological Seminary (DMin)
Hometown: Waco, Texas
Why I chose this work: To help reveal the delight and impact of a life with God
Best advice received: From former professor Dallas Willard: “God’s primary aim is not getting us into heaven as much as getting heaven into us.”
North Point Ministries
Andy Stanley cofounded the nondenominational North Point Community Church in Alpharetta in 1995 with a vision of creating churches that “unchurched people love to attend.” It’s now the second-largest church in the nation. North Point Ministries encompasses eight churches in the metro Atlanta area and a global network of more than 150 churches. Stanley’s online messages and sermons are accessed over 10.5 million times a month, and he’s the author of more than 20 books.
Education: Georgia State University, Dallas Theological Seminary (MA)
Notable achievement: Named one of the 12 “most effective preachers in the English-speaking world” in a national survey by the George W. Truett Theological Seminary of Baylor University
Robert C. Wright
Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
Robert C. Wright is the 10th bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, which encompasses 117 worshipping communities in North and Middle Georgia. He has been a vocal opponent of the death penalty and an advocate for Medicaid expansion, and he addressed the Georgia legislature on gun control. Wright helped establish the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing. Before his election as bishop in 2012, he served as rector of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta.
Education: Howard University, Virginia Theological Seminary (MDiv)
Lesson learned: The best evidence of strength is the combination of perseverance wrapped in genuine kindness.
Hidden talent: I am a certified aircraft mechanic with an FAA license.
Hobbies: Rebuilding old cars
Favorite book: The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
What I’d tell a recent graduate: Reach out! Ask questions! Relax and stay positive.
Bucket list: A trip to Ethiopia
Leading the Way
In 1988, Michael Youssef created Leading the Way ministry “for people living in spiritual darkness to discover the light of Christ.” What began as a small, Atlanta-based radio ministry now transmits across the globe in 27 languages on television as well as the radio. Youssef also founded the evangelical congregation Church of the Apostles in 1987 with fewer than 40 adult members; today it has a congregation of 3,000. He is the author of more than 50 books.
Education: Moore Theological College, Fuller Theological Seminary (ThM), Emory University (PhD)
Originally an English teacher, Aaron launched her TV career in 1968 as a cohost for WSB’s Today in Georgia, which made her the region’s first Black woman to cohost a daily, hour-long talk show. She also held many leadership positions with the Atlanta branch of the United Negro College Fund, helping launch the Mayor’s Masked Ball. After retiring in 1994, she and her husband, baseball icon Hank Aaron, started the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation to help low-income children pursue their educations.
Bethea was the founding director and riverkeeper of Chattahoochee Riverkeeper for two decades—helping downstream communities sue the City of Atlanta and forcing it to clean up the river. She has served on the national boards of WaterkeeperAlliance and River Network, the Georgia Board of Natural Resources, and EarthShare of Georgia.
Bolling founded the Atlanta Community Food Bank in 1979 and directed the organization until 2015. During his tenure, the Food Bank distributed more than half a billion pounds of groceries across 29 Georgia counties. As a charter member of Feeding America, the national network of food banks, he also helped launch food banks across the country.
The 39th president of the United States, Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. A longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity, he and his wife, Rosalynn, founded the Carter Center in 1982 to promote human rights and ease suffering around the world. He is the author of more than 30 books.
Carter is a longtime advocate for mental health, caregiving, early childhood immunization, human rights, and conflict resolution. A cofounder of the Carter Center with her husband, former president Jimmy Carter, she created and leads the Center’s Mental Health Task Force. She also heads up the board of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving at her alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University, in Americus.
Ann Q. Curry
Curry purchased Coxe Curry & Associates, a fundraising consulting firm, from prior owner Frankie Coxe in 1993, and helmed it until 2015. She has also held leadership positions with the League of Women Voters, the board of Research Atlanta, and Atlanta-Fulton Public Library.
Thomas W. Dortch Jr.
Dortch is a founding member and the national chairman of 100 Black Men of America. An entrepreneur, he is chairman and CEO of TWD Inc. and CEO of Atlanta Transportation Systems Inc. and also holds other titles.
Plemon T. El-Amin
El-Amin became imam (now emeritus) of Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam in 1985, growing its membership from 200 to more than 2,000; it’s now one of the largest and most progressive mosques in the country. A leader in Atlanta’s interfaith community and a close aide to the late W. Deen Mohammed, El-Amin is former director of Sister Clara Mohammed Elementary School and W. Deen Mohammed High School. He converted from Christianity to Islam in the wake of the Vietnam War.
A cofounder of the Home Depot, Marcus retired in 2002 and has devoted himself to many philanthropic causes. He founded the Israel Democracy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Israel, as well as the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta. In 2002 Marcus gave $3.9 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create an emergency anthrax response center. He also spearheaded the Georgia Aquarium.
Charles H. “Pete” McTier
For many decades, McTier led the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation and several other Atlanta foundations funded by the corporate and bottling arms of Coca-Cola. He played a role in the creation of Centennial Olympic Park and the Chattahoochee River Greenway, as well as supporting the Woodruff Arts Center, Central Atlanta Progress, Emory University, and more.
When Alicia Philipp joined the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta in 1977, the philanthropic anchor institution had $7 million in assets. Before she retired as president in 2020, the organization had grown to more than $1 billion under management, providing grants to organizations in 23 counties.
Ingrid Saunders Jones
A past national chair of the National Council of Negro Women, Jones was formerly a senior vice president of the Coca-Cola Co. and directed many of the company’s philanthropic efforts, including overseeing contributions of more than $460 million for community initiatives.
Wright is the founder and chairman of Right from the Heart Ministries, an international media ministry, and president of international relief organization, Send Relief. He retired as the founding senior pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in 2019, where he had pastored for 38 years and grown the church to more than 7,300 members.
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