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Meet our Leadership

Non-profits exist because of dedicated volunteers and extraordinary leaders who passionately advocate, guide, govern, and support the organization.

Our Leadership Team is comprised of three groups, all upholding 21st Century Leaders mission in various ways.

DeRetta Cole Rhodes, PhD, Chairperson

EVP, Chief Culture Officer, Atlanta Braves

“It has been a personal passion of mine to always lift, support and influence young adults. As a mother of three young men, I have been focused on education and guiding them on living your dream and becoming a leader in all that you do. With that said, I am honored and humbled to be a part of 21st Century Leaders that does just that in their mission and all that they provide to the community. This is heart work for me and I am excited!”

Katelyn Fredericks, Secretary

Partner, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP

“21st Century Leaders provides the critical tools young Georgians need to assume leadership positions in their communities. It is clear to me what a difference this organization has made in the personal growth and development of its students and I am motivated by the positive future that the 21st Century Leaders programs represent for our youth, our businesses and our communities. Working with 21st Century Leaders is an investment in the future of our youth and my own. One of the greatest impacts we can make is to encourage younger generations to serve the ongoing wellbeing and sustainability of our community.”

Maria Flores-Blackburn, CPA, Treasurer

Sr. Financial Analyst, Southern Power

“I became involved with 21st Century Leaders as a high school student. The organization changed my life. It gave me the tools to set goals and find a clear path to obtain them. Without the support of this organization, I would not be where I am today. I am so excited to be in a position where it’s my turn to give back and help build the future leaders of our community.”

Maranie Brown

Vice President, Data Platforms & Solutions, BlackRock

“I will always invest in students because someone invested me. I have a responsibility to pour into the next generation of leaders and help them be the best they can be. It’s both a passion and a calling to be of service to my community. I’m especially honored to serve with 21st Century Leaders. The organization has a proven record of impactful leadership, and I saw that first-hand as a mentor for the Georgia Youth Leadership Award winners. I look forward to advancing its mission.”

Chris Caldwell

Vice President of Power Delivery, Georgia Power Company

“I was exposed to the great work that 21st Century Leaders does for our communities through our Company’s involvement and support. I was excited about the programs and how impactful these can be to those involved. I have always worked to give back and especially enjoy investing in our youth to watch them grow. 21st Century Leaders is a great place to get involved and do both.”

Carla Chandler

Healthcare Financial Executive

“A former colleague invited me to the Be the Inspiration Gala and I was so impressed with the amazing youth in our community. As the mother of two children in high school, I understand the importance of positive influences on our youth. 21st Century Leaders provides tremendous opportunities for high school students to realize and strengthen their leadership potential. I am excited and honored to serve as a member of the Board of Directors and to assist in continuing the mission of 21st Century Leaders.”

Arjun Chowdri

Senior Vice President Membership, Hagerty

“My family moved to Atlanta in 2018 and we fell immediately in love with the community. Much of the reason for that is the way diverse thoughts are encouraged and how the community raises each other up. When I first had the opportunity to speak with some of the student participants in a 21st Century Leaders program, it was immediately evident that everything we loved about not only Atlanta, but also Georgia was encapsulated in these students. The opportunity to support youth along their journey to become community leaders is not only a responsibility that we all share, but an incredible opportunity I am blessed to experience.”

Martin Fleishmann

Founder + CEO, All Electric Racing Organization (AERO)

“In 2007, I was looking for an organization that the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 Alumni Group could work with to help kids, so I attended a Winter Leadership Retreat. Right away the fit was pretty clear, and we forged a partnership. Since then members of the Alumni Group have served as panelists, speakers, and mentors, helped develop/staff G5!@Goizueta, now known as SYLI @Goizueta, and create and present the Georgia Youth Leadership Awards. We all feel inspired by the energy and enthusiasm the kids bring, and hope to help them in the same way that we were helped by leaders before us.”

Shelton Guinn

Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Innova Solutions

“Over the years, I’ve realized that in order to address the diversity divide in American business today, you must incorporate intentional, inclusive leadership into the conversation, as well. 21st Century Leaders’ focus on that crucial intersection of D&I and leadership at the high-school level is one of the aspects that makes this organization so unique. I believe this opportunity will not only provide the chance for me to learn more on these topics, but to also share the lessons I’ve learned along the way.”

Okema Jackson

Vice President of Media, Operations, Programming and Traffic, WABE

“Marian Wright Edelman, Founder of the Childrens Defense Fund said that service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, not something you do in your spare time. I am personally passionate about service and giving back. I became involved with 21st Century Leaders through Warner Bros. Discovery. The students were so passionate and impressive! After volunteering several times I quickly realized that the mission of 21st Century Leaders aligned with my own passions of cultivating the next generation of leaders. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve and contribute to this great organization!”

JP James

Chairman, Libreum International

“Almost 20 years ago through a friend and alumna of the program, I was invited to help lead a 21CL summer institute in Savannah, GA. Through these decades of amazing leadership and impact in the greater Georgia community. Seeing all the letters and follow up internships with these kids has been amazing to see the lasting impact in their lives. Excited to serve on the board as it continues in the tradition of teaching the principles of life and business.”

C. Alina Mencias

Program Manager, Start:ME Accelerator, Business & Society Institute, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

“Volunteering with the youth of 21st Century Leaders has shown me that young leaders are bringing about social change in a creative, innovative way. They are leading in a way that positively impacts people and planet, and I’m honored to walk alongside their journey as a board member.”

Jon Neff

Chief Central Solutions Officer, EmployBridge

“I am honored and thrilled to join 21st Century Leaders and the rest of the Board of such an impactful and forward-thinking organization. Being the parent of grade-school kids, the spouse of an educator, and co-founder of an employment agency, 21st Century Leaders fulfills my admiration and passion for educating and developing future leaders in the workplace.”

Chi Nguyen Swallow

Chief Financial Officer, Insight Global 

“I am deeply passionate about unlocking the hidden potential in people and love nothing more than to be part of 21st Century Leaders. It’s truly exciting to be a member of an organization uniquely dedicated to creating pathways for young, diverse leaders through their entire high school tenure build the awareness, experience, skills and confidence that will accelerate their personal growth as future business leaders as well as expand them into the critical but often overlooked leadership dimension of civic engagement and social responsibility. I am beyond humbled and honored to serve and pursue our mission to inspire youth to lead. It truly is an unmatched opportunity to pay it forward as someone many years ago just needed a door to open.”

Chris Reynolds

Community Volunteer

“An American writer once said, ‘A child’s mind is not a container to be filled but rather a fire to be kindled.’ 21st Century Leaders is lighting that fire through innovative programming designed to encourage and inspire our Georgia teens into becoming the leaders of tomorrow. I’m honored to be a part of an organization that is making such a difference in the lives of Georgia’s children.“

Scott Riggs

Chief Operating Officer, White Cap

“My first interaction was at a social gathering where I had the opportunity to hear from current and past students. I was blown away and left incredibly inspired and energized from those interactions.  It is always important to consider those people who have enriched your life by teaching you how to achieve the opportunities before you. Paying it forward is the greatest way to improve our own lives, while improving the lives of the people around us.  I can’t think of a better way to do so than 21st Century Leaders.”

Mari Sifo

EVP, Chief Human Resource Officer, Host Hotels & Resorts

“As a HR executive I am constantly asked about the future of work. Our greatest opportunity to be prepared for the future is to equip and nurture the leaders of the future. Serving the students of 21st Century Leaders allows me to not only impact the lives of thousands of students annually but to change the landscape of our communities going forward through the hearts and minds of our future leaders. The opportunity to serve our community through the connection, transformation and inspiration of Georgia’s high school students is a privilege and honor.”

Katerina Taylor

Director Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Nelson Mullins

“I have been a long time fan and supporter of 21st Century Leaders. Their intentionality supporting and preparing future leaders to take on responsibility, professionalism, calculated risk, and decision making is admirable. I’m proud to be apart of their mission.”

Michael White

Senior Director, HRBP, Cox Operations

“The opportunity to serve as a board member for 21st Century Leaders is a privilege. My life experiences mirror the effort and impact the board and organization are trying to make in the lives of young adults. I can attest influencing students during their high school years can be highly impactful in altering the trajectory of their future. Based on my own journey and as the father of two daughters, I know firsthand these positive influences can come from both within and/or outside the family, having similar long term results. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than working to ensure the mission of 21st Century Leaders remains successful for another 30+ years.”

Anqi Zou

SVP, Fair & Responsible Banking Compliance Analytics Director, Truist

“As an immigrant who landed on the American soil for the first time at the age of 18, I am living my American dream by creating a career path that is not traditional, nor linear, and building a multi-faceted, fulfilling life outside of work. As a mother to a brave baby girl, there is nothing I care more about the possibilities of future generations. Having volunteered with 21st Century Leaders extensively since 2022, I am thrilled to serve with the agency and join the movement of inspiring youth to lead.”

Advisory Council

These former board members and seasoned experts and industry leaders provide invaluable strategic guidance, expertise, and insights, enhancing our organization’s impact and effectiveness. 

Kathy Solley

Special Counsel, Parker Poe

Dennis Adamovich

Cheif Development Officer, Times Square Live Media Enterprises

Matt Johnson

Principal, KPMG

Tyrone Johnson

Operating Partner, Trive Capital

Ellen Lindemann

Retired Sr. Vice President, Southern Company

Kevin Sessions

 President, TalentQuest

Patrick Solomon

Founder, The Collective 180

Mike Szalkowski

Chief Financial Officer, The Zalik Family Office

Alumni Board

As alumni of 21st Century Leaders, these young professionals demonstrate our impact collectively and bring our mission to life. This board plays a key role in enhancing alumni engagement, stewarding programs, and fostering crucial financial support.

Chance Mack, Chair

Account Executive, Workday Higher Education

“21CL leaders gave me something to look forward to. The 21CL program is one of the only programs that is focused on developing the next generation of leaders. Without 21CL I don’t believe I would’ve had the exposure to the abundance of professional opportunities or the ability to cultivate my natural leadership qualities. Serving the next generation as 21CL did for me is something I want to pay forward. I believe high school is the most critical time in a students life and I believe 21st Century Leaders does the best job of reinforcing the positive characteristics of our youth.”

Lauren Flanigan, Vice Chair

Direct to Consumer Lead, OREO and Sour Patch Kids, Mondelez International

“Serving on the Junior Board of Directors for 21st Century Leaders is a huge honor. I’m incredibly passionate about equalizing opportunities in education and career exposure for students of color and other underserved populations. I’m a firm believer that wanting more is the first step in achieving excellence, and the precursor to wanting more is knowing there is more. 21st Century Leaders is a phenomenal resource for students around Georgia that delivers on providing early career exposure and helping to stand in the gap where resourcing in public education can sometimes fall short. I’m honored and excited to be a part of the inspiring group of leaders that make up the Junior Board and Board of Directors for 21st Century Leaders as we collectively look to grow this organization to the next level.”

Bridget Gorta, Secretary

Digital Operations & Transformation Scrum Master, Delta

“Being a member of a board of directors has been a goal of mine for quite some time. After being reacquainted with 21st Century Leaders when moving back to Atlanta earlier this year, I immediately felt drawn to support my “new again” local community in the most impactful way with open-minded individuals. Cultivating leadership is important now, more than ever, and 21st Century Leaders certainly supports that notion. As much as I am excited about using my previous skills of fundraising and event planning on the Junior Board, I am also looking forward to learning from our next generation of leaders too!”

Kiah Davis

Sr. Project Lead, Continuous Improvement, Chick-fil-A

“It’s hard to dream of something that you’ve never seen. I’m looking forward to having an opportunity to connect with youth and an organization that positively influenced me when I was in high school. 21st Century Leaders taught me winning strategies in personal branding, corporate America navigation and servant leadership. I also was able to have my first overnight experience at my alma mater, Georgia Tech, through my participation in 21CL’s summer leadership institute. 21st Century Leaders provided me with a platform to dream bigger and create a plan to achieve my goals. I’m anxious to help ignite that same fire in today’s high school students.“

Cameron Henson

Vice President, Global Program Manager, Citi Bank

“Serving on the Alumni Board is an incredible honor for me. As an alumnus of the organization, I have seen firsthand how the leadership principles and foundation fostered through 21st Century Leaders’ various programs can have an impact on someone’s future and development. I carried the lessons learned from 21CL at the Naval Academy, while as a Naval Officer and into Corporate America. With this opportunity to serve and support our world’s next generation of leaders, I feel like I am paying forward what was afforded to me while also learning from our future leaders’ diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

William Holley, IV

Associate Product Manager, Warner Bros Discovery

“My journey with 21CL started almost a decade (wow) ago as a student. Since then, I have witnessed firsthand the impact of such a program on the community at large. In fact, I am living proof of that impact. There are 21st Century Leaders in every sector imaginable. From government to entertainment, healthcare, and many more. Wherever 21CL Alumni go, they carry those same inclusive and servant based leadership competencies learned from high school programs! Whether that is a formal donation, a college panel, or presentation, these programs are not possible without leaders paving the way forward. Who else would be more fit to pave that road than those who have traversed it! This nonprofit’s continued success and growth is, in part, contingent on alumni giving back. I plan to continue to pave that way forward by providing insights, strategies, and valuable connections as a member of the Junior Board of Directors.”

Imani Holmes

Senior Account Executive, Health, Edelman

“To serve 21st Century Leaders as an alumna, a volunteer and now Alumni Board member is a full-circle moment. As a high school student, I remember attending 21st Century Leaders’ Summer Youth Leadership Institute at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. With an academic and professional career 10 years later that led me to Emory once more as a Master of Public Health student, I am grateful for how 21st Century Leaders identified, shaped and refined my leadership capabilities from a young scholar to present-day. I am excited about leveraging my public relations, communications and health equity expertise from Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, to steer the strategic direction and vision of the organization. I am thankful for the opportunity to authentically cultivate relationships and sow into our nation’s most promising emerging leaders.”

Asher Jones

Diversity & Inclusion Manager, MarketSource

“I joined the Alumni Board because I believe in our core values to my core as an individual. Being able to work full-time for the organization for 5 years truly changed the course of my life and knowing how much of a difference committed volunteers make on our students makes it easy for me to always answer the call to participate. I am excited to continue forging a strategic path for 21CL to expand its reach and continuing to change lives across the state!”

Cristy Jones

Talent Management Specialist, University of Georgia

“I joined the 21st Century Leaders Junior Board of Directors because I want to play a part in shaping the programming for an organization that has played such an integral role in my formation as a servant leader. During my tenure, I hope to serve as a mentor for current program participants, increase alumni engagement among college students, and provide resources to teach student leaders about the importance of self-care and mental health.”

Brandon Ona

Business Services Director, Technical College System of Georgia

“To me, 21st Century Leaders (21CL) means opportunity. 21CL not only provided me the opportunity to figure out who I wanted to be in the world, but it also gave me leadership tools and skills that have created countless opportunities since. It’s been nearly a decade since first becoming a 21st Century Leader, and I can confidently say it was an opportunity that made all the difference in my life.”

Jalen Polk

Software Implementation Lead, PwC

“21st Century Leaders is home for me, because it has empowered me as a leader and embraced my potential. I have been exposed to holistic leadership centered in character development and relationship building which has impacted every area of my life, for which I am grateful and eager to share that legacy. “

Kalin Tate

Sponsorship & Partnership Management, NFL (National Football League)

“I met so many different personalities during 21CL; it taught me that as a leader I needed to love and accept everyone as they are. Each of us brings something unique to the table and has a different prospective that helps ensure EVERYONE is represented. Working with many different types of people at 21CL showed me how important it was to appreciate all of the diverse backgrounds, and it is okay to disagree because it may lead to an even better idea overall!”

Amara Tennessee

Workforce Development and Outreach Coordinator, Vanguard Consulting Group, LLC

“21st Century Leaders was the most engaging and impactful experiences I had as a high school student. I learned how to grow into my leadership style and feel comfortable engaging with diverse groups of people. I am thankful to have remained connected with the program by working as a part of the Summer Leadership Team for many years. I have watched this organization pour its time and talent into supporting young leaders as they develop. I joined the junior board to continue working as a servant leader to connect and encourage our young leaders. I am so excited to begin working with 21CL in this new capacity.”

Tavari Turner

Vice President, Youth Development Programs, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee

“I believe 21st Century Leaders is critical in ensuring that our future leaders are prepared for the workforce and have skills needed to thrive in the every changing world.”

Alfonzo Washington

Teacher, DeKalb County School District

“Serving on the Alumni Board is a tremendous honor for me. I have been involved with 21st Century Leaders since 2009 and my main goal after graduating college has been to give back to the organization that changed my life. I believe in the mission of this program and am dedicated to working hard and contributing in every way I can.”