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Alumni Spotlight: Erin Lightfoot

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Alumni Spotlight: Erin Lightfoot

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I never thought I would be responsible for leading over 600 employees at 22 years old. Working for the biggest and coolest online retailer in the world has been an invaluable experience in project management and team development. With two holiday seasons under my belt, I’d say I’m getting the hang of this young professional lifestyle. Now in 2017 and age 24, I’m returning to the Atlanta area to continue my Amazon journey and remain involved in the programs and organizations who helped shape me. Thank you 21CL for empowering me to lead before I knew who or what I’d be leading.

Erin Lightfoot didn’t predict how her experience with 21CL as a high school student would prepare her for a role as Area Manager for Amazon Fulfillment after college, but she knew the experience gave her a foundation. After attending one of 21CL’s week-long summer leadership institutes, Erin sought out places and ways to apply her leadership. Read about her journey and the motivation she shares!

How did participating in 21CL change you and/or lead you to where you are now?

21st Century Leaders introduced me to other bright-minded young people. That one week was the first time I’d left my hometown for a “significant” amount of time for the purpose of leadership development. 21CL planted seeds of confidence, exposure, and focus on my future that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

What was your most memorable moment in 21CL?

My most memorable moment was working with my group members to design an app called ShakeDate. It was one of the first times I created and presented a business plan.

How did 21CL prepare you for your next steps? Going into college and taking on leadership roles, heading into a new era of professionalism, etc. What tools/perspectives have helped you along the way?

For the rest of my high school career I pursued more leadership opportunities, revamped my high school’s honor society, led the committee for the school’s annual black history show, and landed two internships – one with a U.S. Congressman and one with a neighborhood revitalization group. I thrived in college as well and graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Industrial Engineering in 2015. I was accepted into graduate school but ultimately decided to join Amazon Fulfillment as an area manager for one of their largest distribution centers.

What’s something you’ve recently learned about leadership?

Recently I’ve re-learned the importance of servant leadership and truly being in touch with the people I am leading. Over the years, I’ve witnessed other leaders become distracted by their titles or become obsessed with metrics instead of focusing on the people they are leading every day. By taking a genuine interest in the people I serve, I find that their morale increases and their performance improves. Everyone wants to be valued, heard, and supported.

What advice or encouragement do you have for 21CL students?

Be YOU! And be proud of who you are! Find joy in whatever career path you choose. If you ever become discouraged along the way, remember you are unique and filled with purpose. Keep in mind what motivates you and put your passions to action.

I actually have the same words of encouragement for professionals: Be YOU! And be proud of who you are! Find joy in whatever career path you choose. If you ever become discouraged along the way, remember you are unique and filled with purpose. Keep in mind what motivates you and put your passions to action.


Erin attended G5 (now SYLI) at Emory’s Goizueta Business School in the summer of 2010. She is a graduate of Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School (’11) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (’15). She spoke at the 2017 Georgia Youth Leadership Awards in February, and students attending SYLI this summer can look forward to meeting her (as well as other alumni) at the 21CL Alumni Networking Roundtables Event!