Brandi Harrison, is the Senior Manager of Production Operations and Crewing at Turner, a graduate of H.V. Jenkins High School (1997) and of Brenau University (2001). She is an alumna of 21st Century Leaders and now serves as chairperson of the 21CL Junior Board of Directors. At the Georgia Youth Leadership Awards (GYLA 2019) event which took place on March 2, 2019, Brandi was our keynote alumni speaker and gave a moving speech and talked about the inspiration, skills and values she acquired during her 21CL years. She also encouraged everyone who has been impacted by program to give back.

Following is part of her speech:

“I’m thrilled to be here tonight in the presence of such amazing students who are shaping the future right before our eyes! I’m in awe of the vision and determination that each of you have shown in the projects you’ve created. And it makes me think about my experiences with 21st Century Leaders.

I went through the summer program twice, in ’95 and ’96, as a rising junior and a rising senior. Back then, each level had a focus – for instance, the rising sophomores had to start a business and most of them sold chips and candy throughout the week – so you always knew who to hit up for a midnight snack in the dorms!

I know for a fact that I can draw a direct line between those 2 summers and who I am today.

  • In that intimate environment, I learned to work with a wide diverse group of students from all over GA and it shattered any stereotype that I had of “city people” or “country people”. A trait that helps me manage my current staff of 12 today.
  • I worked on real business projects and presented solutions to professionals which required me to ask thought provoking questions and understand company’s pain points. Skills that I use every day to find efficiencies in how we manage our production studios and resources at Turner.
  • And I was required to lead – not asked, not just suggested. There was an expectation that I would build teams, mentor others, and be a strong teammate to other leaders. I’ve used that talent to secure every job I’ve ever earned. And I’ll rely on it as I step into the new role of Chairman for our very first 21st Century Leaders Junior Board. Together, along with the other alumni on the Junior Board, we have a goal to reach out and galvanize our 14 thousand alumni… reconnecting them to the program and its mission.

All of those skills and expectations were originally ignited 30 years ago and fueled by the passion of our very own, Bob Watson!

Bob is such a special person. The first time I met him was my very first day of my first camp. I was walking up to the registration table and Bob happened to be standing there. He asked my name and once I said Brandi Harrison, his face LIT UP! He knew me and he was excited to meet me. As a 15 year old it was so memorable, there are few adults, outside of family that are thrilled to meet you! In the moment I thought I was special, but as I watched him the rest of the day, he had that same reaction to every single student he met and he’d mentioned tidbits from their application and interviews.

Bob has carried that same excitement and passion through every stage of building 21st Century Leaders into the organization it is today. And I know each and every one of you here have been impacted by 21st Century Leaders and touched by Bob’s passion.

Brandi went on to encourage everyone who had been impacted by 21st Century Leaders to support the organization, which lead into our crowdfunding campaign for the “Robert Watson Scholarship” that evening.

As Chairperson for the Junior Board of Directors, Brandi encourages all of our alumni to reengage with 21st Century Leaders in some way. Join a committee with the Junior Board, volunteer with the program and events, or donate to help future generations lead. 

Thank you, Brandi! Congratulations on all of your success thus far, and thank you for giving back to 21st Century Leaders.