Having applied to LEAD just four months after moving to Atlanta, I had no idea how impactful the experience would be on my life, both professionally and personally. LEAD was my introduction to the diversity and exceptional talent of this city. I was introduced to the issues and challenges facing Atlanta, and participated in the dialogue toward solutions. I discovered how to get involved, and now share a network of innovative leaders continuing to cultivate relationships and create change. LEAD has built a formula that literally opens minds and hearts to advance the dialogue on inclusion and growth as a community. And as an individual, you are challenged to think about the journey toward your purpose and how you want to contribute to our city. I am so proud to have participated in the program, and will always be grateful for the opportunity."
Dani Ayers, LEAD Atlanta 2015Senior Director of Affiliates, ToolBank USA
My involvement with Leadership Atlanta continues almost daily to influence my ability to affect change in the City of Atlanta. I am grateful beyond measure for all that I learned and for the relationships that I developed. I joined the class of 2012 four years after I became the Senior Rabbi of The Temple. The Temple has a strong history of commitment to involvement with the community. Leadership Atlanta was an essential part of my education about the who, what, where, when, and why of Atlanta. Of all the profound learning that took place, two ideas stand out: 1) Be courageous: Whether the issue is health, criminal justice, education, or race – strive to do what is right, even if it is not popular. 2) Build Relationships: Meet and develop friendships with other leaders who can bring about transformative change. I am confident that your decision to become part of Leadership Atlanta will be one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
Peter S. Berg, Leadership Atlanta 2012Senior Rabbi, The Temple
There are numerous leadership programs out there for young leaders. But there are very few programs I know of that can both ignite the mind and touch the heart. LEAD Atlanta has perfected a program design that has the uncanny ability to at once go deep on the complex issues and opportunities that our city faces, yet create an environment for honest dialogue and true self-discovery. Apply that to an elite network of some of the most impressive, impassioned leaders in our community and you get magic. I graduated from LEAD a changed person, a better person – equipped with more awareness, humility, motivation and like-minded relationships than ever before to fuel my leadership capacity and desire to serve my community. Even ten years after graduating, hardly a week goes by that I don’t collaborate with a fellow LEAD alum or practice some of the leadership lessons I picked up from LEAD. If you’re a proven leader within your sphere of influence and ready to accelerate your leadership impact, this is the program for you.
Wendy Ho, LEAD Atlanta 2008Senior Brand Manager, CNN
There is not a week in which I am not working with either a Leadership Atlanta classmate or alumni. An incredible investment, Leadership Atlanta exposed me to issues and parts of the city I would never have known -- opening my mind to our urgent role as leaders in this city. Moreover, Leadership Atlanta allowed me to make sincere friendships with leaders across the city, expanding my reach and ability to effectively get things done.
Rodney Bullard, Leadership Atlanta 2012VP of Community Affairs, Executive Director of Chick-fil-A Foundation, Chick-fil-A
When asked about Leadership Atlanta, my response has always been: one of the most satisfying years of learning. Still today, I cherish all the friends that were made as well as learning what makes the city work. My sense of civic responsibilities really changed because of Leadership Atlanta.
Aida Perez Flamm, Leadership Atlanta 1995Partner, Aida & Co.
I am a firm believe that information is the underground currency of the privileged. Leadership Atlanta exposed me to information that I never had, people I never thought I would know and experiences that have informed my leadership. My advocacy for and belief in Atlanta is even deeper as a result of this once in a lifetime experience. I never thought I would laugh, cry, rejoice and be forever changed by an experience at this age. Leadership Atlanta brokered that. It is the most thoughtfully curated experience I have had as an adult and I am on fire to lead with vulnerability and efficacy in Atlanta.”
DeLano Ford, Leadership Atlanta 2016Executive Director, Teach For America Metro Atlanta
Leadership Atlanta is one of the most impactful leadership development programs that I've experienced. What makes it unique and best in class is its proven approach of pulling together leaders across our community from all walks of life, leaders who care deeply about our community, leaders who are willing to get out of their own echo chambers and see things from other perspectives, leaders who will lean into the issues facing our community, and leaders who want to connect with others to make a difference. I value each one of my Leadership Atlanta friends and experiences and wish that everyone in our great city could experience Leadership Atlanta!
Shelley Giberson, Leadership Atlanta 2015Market Managing Partner, Greater Atlanta, PwC
LEAD Atlanta is the best community-focused, leadership development program for young professionals in the country. Participating in the program gave me experiences and helped hone skills that accelerate my career. Further, the opportunity to interact with and learn from emerging leaders who were just as interested as I was in engaging deeper in our community was invaluable. I am honored to be part of the large network of LEAD Atlanta alumni that work every day to make Atlanta a better place to live, work, and play.
Jason Esteves, LEAD Atlanta 2012Assistant General Counsel, Equifax
Leadership Atlanta is an extraordinary and life-changing experience. The people, program design, and high standards elevate even the most accomplished leaders to an entirely new level of thoughtful decision-making and impact. LEAD Atlanta heightened my awareness of the issues facing our city at just the right time in my career. Leadership Atlanta challenged me further with even more complex topics and experienced colleagues. Fortunately, the learning continues as the alumni programming and relationships created through the program are of the highest quality. I strongly encourage all driven and active professionals to consider LEAD and Leadership Atlanta.
Dan Gordon, Leadership Atlanta 2015, LEAD Atlanta 2009Chief Operating Officer, The City of Atlanta
I had very high expectations going-into Leadership Atlanta, from its great reputation and the alums that I knew. But my experience was even more transformational than I could have imagined – both personally and professionally. From day 1, I found myself amidst a passionate and committed group of leaders who are driving positive change every day. My eyes were opened to a fresh view of issues and diverse perspectives. I also gained a renewed sense of optimism for the vital community Atlanta can surely become. Although you graduate, you are never “done” with Leadership Atlanta, because the experience continues to build on itself through an active and engaged alumni network and lifelong friendships. This is a program that truly delivers.
Kevin Green, Leadership Atlanta 2006President and CEO, Midtown Alliance
Leadership Atlanta was one of the most rewarding programs I have participated in throughout my professional career. The program gave me new perspectives on having influence in our city though the interworking of government, non-profit, religion and business, and helped me identify new areas to lead. Equally important, I had a ton of fun and I have a new incredible network of colleagues and friends willing to help and to serve with me for the betterment of our Atlanta community.
Kenneth Saffold, Leadership Atlanta 2017, LEAD 2007Senior Vice President, Capital One
My Leadership Atlanta class was the single most impactful year of learning and connecting I have had outside of a classroom. My world was enlarged in ways that are hard to fully describe by the curriculum and the bonds I forged with passionate leaders throughout Atlanta. I took from the year a deep desire to engage further in our city and state. It is a rare day when I do not connect with classmates who are now dear friends. We continue to support each other and engage on issues where we can make positive change for those in our great city.
Jodie Guest, Leadership Atlanta 2011Professor, Rollins School of Public Health and School of Medicine, Emory University
Leadership Atlanta experience changed me deeply. I met and learned from so many sincere, open-minded people who are interested in making a difference. I no longer feel like an outsider in the city where I live, and my classmates made me want to join them in making a difference.
June Lee, Leadership Atlanta 2017Partner, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP
I am proud to be a Leadership Atlanta alum. Through Leadership Atlanta, I am able to connect with and appreciate this city in ways I do not believe would have been possible without this experience. The program and curriculum challenged me to assess my own leadership capabilities and responsibilities at work and in the community. It also provided me with a unique opportunity for building and strengthening relationships that have come to matter for both personal fulfilment and for the express purpose of helping to fulfill Atlanta’s potential as one of the world’s great cosmopolitan cities.
Erika James, Leadership Atlanta 2016Dean, Goizueta School of Business
Leadership Atlanta develops leaders who are solving important issues that make Atlanta and our region a better place to live, work and play. What I learned as a member of the 2004 class has helped make me a better community leader today. Add to this the lifelong friendships that are made, and you see why Leadership Atlanta is our city’s premiere leadership program.
Bob Jimenez, Leadership Atlanta 2004Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, Cox Enterprises, Inc.
LEAD Atlanta provided me a learning and development experience that remains unmatched. Through the deep and meaningful relationships that were built, I gained a perspective that changed my view of my community and gave me a new sense of energy and passion to change it for the better. I developed lifelong friends, grew as a leader and found a new purpose for my role within Atlanta. I am forever thankful to LEAD Atlanta for challenging my positions, encouraging me to go further and making me a stronger leader committed to progress.
Rich Johnson, LEAD Atlanta 2015Director, External Affairs, AT&T Georgia
Wow! is how I describe my Leadership Atlanta experience. My Wow! includes people, knowledge and experience. I met and continue to meet extraordinary leaders who are making a difference in our city and state every day. The knowledge gained throughout my year was life changing, and the experiences were unmatched. I am honored to be part of such an outstanding organization.
Soumaya Khalifa, Leadership Atlanta 2015Executive Director/Founder, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta
Through Leadership Atlanta I had the unique opportunity to engage with a diverse and passionate group of leaders dedicated to addressing many of the issues we face in metro Atlanta. A true strength of the program is that it forces you to be intentional about finding solutions for creating a better, stronger community for future generations.
Hala Moddelmog, Leadership Atlanta 1997President & CEO, Metro Atlanta Chamber
Leadership Atlanta has created and refined a unique program that honors Atlanta’s past while standing for the possibility of a powerfully inclusive future. I was honored and humbled to work with such a diverse group of business, non-profit and community leaders, passionately committed to making a difference. The relationships I’ve made have a depth and relatedness that continues to grow stronger following graduation. The program and alumni network prove that determined people working together can accomplish anything.
Chris Peck, Leadership Atlanta 2016Vice President, Corporate Human Resources, UPS
Like many others, my Leadership Atlanta experience was outstanding, providing me a chance to discuss and debate some of the key issues facing our City and our region, and to engage with other local leaders in tackling them. In addition to being provided a unique exposure to the region, and the complexities and varied perspectives that define so many of its challenges and opportunities, the shared experience of going through the year with classmates created many lifelong friendships and opened the doors to opportunities to better serve our community. The legacy of Leadership Atlanta is evident in many other ways, as it is common for me to encounter other Leadership Atlanta graduates in service on the boards of community and civic organizations, advocating for causes that move us forward, and at the table when conducting my business affairs.
Egbert Perry, Leadership Atlanta 1987Chairman and CEO, The Integral Group, LLC
Leadership Atlanta is the quintessential leadership program. Everyone’s journey begins similarly – Leadership Atlanta takes leaders with high potential, stellar professional achievement and incredible engagement in the community and creates something special. The program harnesses this potential, this leadership acumen and the commitment to do both well as an individual and good for the community and provides these leaders the network and resources to make meaningful impact across our entire beloved city of Atlanta. That is what makes Leadership Atlanta the best leadership experiences I have participated.
Pamela Stewart, Leadership Atlanta 2015Vice President - National Sales, The Coca-Cola Company
Leadership Atlanta is and has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had in Atlanta. I have been personally and professionally enriched by the thought provoking programs and the personal connections I made with some of the very finest leaders in our City. My eyes, heart and mind were opened to both the needs in our community and to those talented individuals leading the way to make sure those needs are met. Not a week has passed since my graduation from the Leadership Atlanta program that I have not been positively influenced by the lessons I learned about our Atlanta community or by the people I met and remain connected to today. I am proud to say I am part of the Leadership Atlanta community.
Michael J. Sullivan, Leadership Atlanta 2015Managing Partner, Atlanta Office, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP
Leadership Atlanta is FOR Atlanta. FOR those looking to learn more about our city, our community, and our opportunity to raise the collective bar on the society that we live in, walk in, drive through, and circle around daily. Leadership Atlanta is FOR leaders. And FOR leaders who know, want, and crave personal development. FOR leaders who seek and appreciate relationships with other broad-based civic and organizational difference-makers. FOR those that want to know more because knowing more fuels doing more. Leadership Atlanta is an experience – an experience that is unique. An experience that is differentiated and educational; challenging and thought-provoking; memorable and enduring. Leadership Atlanta was designed with you in mind. A program, an experience, an environment FOR you.
Justin Honaman, Leadership Atlanta Class of 2014Managing Director - Products, Accenture
Kyle Stapleton, LEAD Atlanta 2016Manager of Culture & Experience, Turner
There are few experiences in my life that compare to my time with Leadership Atlanta. Having spent much of my life living in Atlanta, I saw the challenges that faced the city on a daily basis and wondered how I could best help with overcoming those challenges. The knowledge I gained and the relationships I built through Leadership Atlanta are what have allowed me to make a positive difference not just in the City of Atlanta, but the state of Georgia and the entire country. I can say with certainty that I would not be where I am today without Leadership Atlanta, and I cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone looking to build a better city, a better career, and a better self.
Tharon Johnson, Leadership Atlanta 2016, LEAD 2010Founder & CEO, Paramount Consulting Group, LLC
LEAD Atlanta taught me that leadership requires a vigilant willingness to constantly step outside my comfort zone. LEAD created a safe space for self-discovery while challenging me to understand complex issues through multiple and often very different perspectives. As I continue my leadership journey, LEAD classmates and alumni are a special group of trusted peer mentors who support my personal and professional growth.
Rickey Bevington, LEAD Atlanta 2009Senior Anchor/Correspondent, Georgia Public Broadcasting
In any town, having leaders come together is healthy, and in a community as complex and diverse as Atlanta so much more so. Having intentional conversations about our city and it's challenges are essential. These discussions are critical for our city and hugely impactful to each and every individual involved. Leadership Atlanta does a fantastic job of bringing leaders from the not-for-profit sector, business leaders, as well as executives from government agencies together. Joining Leadership Atlanta is one of the positive and life changing experiences one can have.
Ken Ashley, Leadership Atlanta 2014Executive Director, Cushman & Wakefield
LEAD Atlanta presented me with the opportunity to learn more about the challenges facing Atlanta and presented opportunities to get more involved in serving our community. The collective experiences presented throughout the program from city leaders, peers, and alumni allowed for personal growth and leadership development. The chance to learn where, when, and how I can be effective in the Atlanta community is significant and will undoubtedly make me a stronger citizen. LEAD Atlanta allowed me the opportunity to further develop my leadership and service skills thus helping me to define the personal goals developed over previous years of service with multiple types of organizations. I am confident in the experience that LEAD Atlanta provided, and am looking forward to the contributions of our alumni to the city of Atlanta.
Kurt Ford, LEAD Atlanta 2014General Manager - Schedule Implementation, Delta Air Lines, Inc.
There are defining experiences that profoundly impact us. Leadership Atlanta was that kind of experience for me for many reasons. From the curriculum that forces you to actively engage in making Atlanta live up to its legacy to the people who challenge your thinking to the relationships that will last a lifetime, Leadership Atlanta’s reputation as the nation’s premier leadership development program is well earned. It is the single most transformational odyssey in my professional life, which is the reason I continue to be engaged even today.
Kimberly Esmond Adams, Leadership Atlanta 2010Judge, Superior Court of Fulton County, State of Georgia
Among the many experiences and organizations in which I have been involved, Leadership Atlanta stands out as one of the most impactful and rewarding. The program provided tremendous insight into issues prominent in our city, as well as access to the “who’s who” of Atlanta’s corporate, political and civic leadership. My classmates - 80 amazing individuals who are diverse in background, race and career - provoked deep thinking and meaningful discussions. They have become some of my closest friends, and given our common passion for this city, we will have the opportunity to do great work here! I’m proud to be a part of Leadership Atlanta and “The Class” of 2017. If you have the opportunity to become part of this community, do so. The journey was amazing.
Chris Ahrenkiel, Leadership Atlanta 2017Managing Director, Tishman Speyer
Leadership Atlanta afforded me the opportunity to engage with a diverse group of leaders. The bonds I have forged with my classmates has had a significant impact on me both professionally and personally. My experience has helped me better understand the needs of the communities throughout Atlanta, and how I as a leader can contribute to those communities. Most importantly, it gave me colleagues and partners who share my passion for and commitment to ensuring Atlanta remains a vibrant city to all its residents.
Valerie Montgomery Rice, Leadership Atlanta 2013President & Dean, Morehouse School of Medicine
The Leadership Atlanta experience is unique and impactful. I learned the most from the diverse backgrounds of my classmates -- who are now my close friends. The professional commitment was significant, but what I received in return for the time invested cannot be easily quantified. In learning more about the challenges in our community and what is needed to move forward, I was inspired to give more of myself to helping others. In other words, I was inspired to lead.
Bjay Pak, Leadership Atlanta 2017Founding Member, Chalmers Pak & Burch LLC
All of the exceptional things I heard and learned about the Leadership Atlanta program from reading and talking to alumni prior to applying, paled in comparison to the actual experience of the program itself. And, yet even the words I can think of to describe my experience still seem inadequate. Engaging. Educational. Thought-provoking. Instigating. Inspiring. Challenging. What a gift it was to be a part of a group of exceptional leaders, learning together, challenging each other together, debating together, creating awareness together, growing together – all for the good of this community we love. The great thing about this Program is graduation isn’t the end – it’s the beginning. I can’t wait to see what we do next!
Laurel Hill, Leadership Atlanta 2017Senior Vice President, Government & Institutional Banking, Wells Fargo
Before my Leadership Atlanta year began, I thought it would provide a unique opportunity to explore our city’s challenges and opportunities and meet other civically-minded Atlantans. And it did - - but it was so much more. The full day seminars and tours offered deep dives into critical social and community issues, which included surprisingly frank and illuminating discussions with senior public officials and business and non-profit leaders. Further, from opening retreat, through study group sessions and community service projects, right up to the closing session, the Leadership Atlanta experience promotes an atmosphere that encourages honest dialogue, introspection and real understanding among participants. Every activity is designed to break down barriers and create lasting relationships with the hope that those bonds will be leveraged to better our city. Leadership Atlanta goes well beyond civic education and networking: I came away with new and better informed points of view and what I know will be life-long connections and friendships with my remarkable classmates.
Ben Garren, Leadership Atlanta 2017General Counsel, North America, The Coca-Cola Company
Leadership Atlanta is a transformative experience. Before my program year, I thought Leadership Atlanta was about multi-disciplinary problem solving. I imagined the goal was to bring 82 people who were accomplished in their respective fields together to devise a solution to an Atlanta issue using their unique skill sets. I could not have been more wrong. I had no clue I was embarking on the journey of a lifetime. Over the course of the program year, we confronted serious issues facing the city and our nation. We laughed. We cried. We challenged each other. We supported one another. We looked inward. We grew. We changed. Individually and collectively, we pushed ourselves further than we had ever thought possible, all with the goal of equipping ourselves to be the ones who will carry the torch for Atlanta in the footsteps of our city's great leaders. It was a humbling but also empowering experience. I am excited to see what the future holds for The Class and honored to be a member of the Leadership Atlanta alumni.
Jamila M. Hall, Leadership Atlanta 2017Partner, Jones Day
Leadership Atlanta was an incredibly enriching experience, both personally and professionally. The friendships that were developed and fostered to last long after Closing Retreat was one of the surprising and most rewarding parts of the program. In a remarkably holistic approach, the program connects the past to the present, and explores issues that are inextricably linked, in a way that’s truly eye-opening, sobering, and inspiring. The lens through which I look at personal and civic leadership was enlarged and refined in ways that’s hard to describe in a testimonial, but I assure you that this program will not only challenge your thinking, but it will also touch your heart. At the beginning, I recognized it was a highlight in my career; by the end, I realized it had become a highlight in my life.
Matt Johnson, Leadership Atlanta 2017Principal, KPMG LLP
The Leadership Atlanta experience is difficult to describe. If you want to experience the thrill of parasailing, you have to make the leap yourself. Sitting on the boat and watching someone else go for it is not enough. The same is true of Leadership Atlanta. I jumped into a life changing experience. The perspectives I gained by learning from others with very different viewpoints was invaluable. It’s helped me see all things differently and more fully. Most importantly are the incredible friendships I’ve made. They will last a lifetime. When Leadership Atlanta ended, I felt like I did after my wedding. The ending of both experiences was very emotional. However, I realized after my wedding came a new way of life. My marriage was about to begin. The same is true for Leadership Atlanta. It’s not an ending; it’s a beginning. I can’t wait to see where my Leadership Atlanta journey will take me next.
Wendy Stewart, Leadership Atlanta 2017Atlanta Market President & Co-head Southeast Region, Global Commercial Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
My year in Leadership Atlanta was one of the most unique and incredible experiences of my life. Very few organizations can gather a diversity of people and opinions to intentionally focus on the structural and systemic challenges facing Atlanta and Georgia. I am forever changed by my classmates and the incredibly robust programming. As an alum, I’m excited to remain engaged and continue to finding ways to strengthen our community. New York Times Op-ed Columnist, David Brooks recently wrote an article entitled “How to Leave a Mark on People” [18 Apr. 2017] in which he expounds on the traits of organizations as either being thick or thin. “Thin organizations look to take advantage of people’s strengths and treat people as resources to be marshaled…thick organizations think in terms of virtue and vice. They take advantage of people’s desires to go good and arouse their higher longings.” Leadership Atlanta is and shall remain, a thick institution for me.
David Lee, Leadership Atlanta 2017EVP, External Affairs & Executive Director, Atlanta Hawks
Leadership Atlanta has been one of the most impactful and life changing experiences for me personally and professionally. The program convenes current and emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds, informs them about vital issues we face across Metro-Atlanta, and engages them to lead in ways that improve quality of life for all who live and work this great city. Maybe most importantly, the Leadership Atlanta experience leaves you with an extended network of friends that you can count on to take this city forward in a positive way for all.
Brannigan Thompson, Leadership Atlanta 2017Senior Vice President, Voya Financial
Leadership Atlanta was a much needed ground tilling experience for me that introduced me to my authentic self. With this experience, I am better equipped to do the transformational work that God has ordained for me in Atlanta and beyond.
CJ Stewart, Leadership Atlanta 2015Co-founder, CEO Diamond Directors | L.E.A.D., Inc.
My time in Leadership Atlanta confirmed to me that Atlanta is a vibrant and sophisticated city, whose fabric comprises collections of diverse, inspiring people striving to find success for themselves, their families, and our fair City. My Leadership Atlanta classmates are among the leaders who will pave the way to that success by removing barriers and building bridges within our various communities. Without Leadership Atlanta, I would have neither met nor been inspired by my classmates to realize the potential that I have to be a barrier-buster and bridge-builder myself. What I learned through this amazing program -- from its substantive teachings and from the people I met during it -- has made me a more effective leader within my profession and, hopefully, beyond.
Brett C. Bartlett, Leadership Atlanta 2017Partner, Seyfarth Shaw LLP
“No brakes!” is the best way to describe the incredible journey that I experienced as a fortunate member of the Leadership Class of 2013! From day one, I was exposed to the riveting real-life pillars of our community, which parallels the many complex issues of our society. In particular I found the richness and engagement of my classmates who had the strength to be so transparent and authentic as a gift that everyday fires my passion to lead and be the change agent of the future.
John Brewer, Leadership Atlanta 2013Chairman and CEO, Vantage Private Capital Group
LEAD Atlanta was an incredible experience to learn about the city and region, and gave me a perspective I will never forget. However, the one thing I got most out of the program was the importance of serving my community. While I always knew it was important to help the community at large, LEAD, through its program, speakers and fellow classmates, taught me that it needs to be a priority and central to my life. Watching my classmates dedicate their lives to service with alacrity and witnessing first-hand the impact that they have had in our community is a humbling experience, and no other program in the region can do this as well as Leadership Atlanta and LEAD Atlanta.
Andy Chang, LEAD Atlanta 2007Executive Director, Marketing & Physician Outreach, Piedmont Healthcare
Leadership Atlanta is a great opportunity to connect with others who want to make Atlanta and our state a better place for all of us. Connections are key for addressing many of the issues we face in our communities. The Metro Atlanta region is changing and leaders need to connect with others outside our normal and comfortable spheres of influence. Leadership Atlanta provides those types of opportunities for substantive connections to make Atlanta better for us all.
Jerry Gonzalez, Leadership Atlanta 2005Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO)