21CL Appoints New Chair of its Board of Directors


21st Century Leaders Appoints New Chair of its Board of Directors

(October 3, 2022) Atlanta, GA – 21st Century Leaders’ announces the appointment of DeRetta Cole Rhodes, Ph.D. as chair of its board of directors. Dr. Rhodes succeeds Matt Johnson, who has been serving as chair of the board since October 2019. The appointment was effective October 1, 2022 as the start of the organization’s fiscal year. Johnson’s commitment to 21st Century Leaders is longstanding, having been a board member since 2014 and a volunteer prior to that for nearly a decade. He will remain engaged in a leadership role with 21st Century Leaders (21CL) as a member of its Advisory Council.

Johnson said, “It has been an honor to serve as board chair and work with our incredible board and staff to equip young people with leadership skills and experiences that enable their success. I’m absolutely confident and delighted that the important work of 21st Century Leaders will continue with momentum and outsized impact with DeRetta’s leadership. Her long standing enthusiasm and commitment to develop the next generation of leaders is inspiring, and perfectly complements the mission of 21CL.”  

Dr. Rhodes currently serves as the Executive Vice President, Chief People Capital Officer for the Atlanta Braves. Dr. Rhodes, who oversees people capital initiatives for the organization’s Major League, Minor League and The Battery Atlanta operations, has left a lasting impact in her short time with the Braves.  She has transformed the people capital department, expanded the culture of the organization with training programs and employee resource groups and created an internal diversity, equity and inclusion council. She was also recognized as 100 Women of Influence by the Atlanta Business League. Dr. Rhodes lives in Atlanta, Ga. with her husband, Leon, and her three sons, Cole, Austin and Jordan.

“I have always been in awe of 21CL; the vision, the work and the impression we make on young leaders,” said Dr. Rhodes. “To have the opportunity to work alongside Kate Hewitt the 21CL’s Executive Director, the Board, staff and students is an honor.  I am committed to bringing my passion, energy and commitment alongside all that I have the opportunity to engage as the new Board Chair.”

 “As we look to the future and growth of our organization, we are excited to have DeRetta’s recognized leadership and passion for this work as we continue to accelerate our mission of impacting youth leaders across Georgia and beyond,” said 21CL’s Executive Director Kate Hewitt. “As our former board chair, Matt has been instrumental to our success the past three years, particularly as we navigated through the impacts and challenges of Covid-19, all while leading the organization to a million dollar budget for the first time in the organization’s history.  On behalf of the board, staff, and every student we serve, I want to personally thank Matt for his mentorship to me, but more importantly his heart, dedication and contributions to 21CL.” 

21st Century Leaders is a youth leadership and talent development organization for Georgia high school students. 21CL provides year-round programming by collaborating with over 50 corporate and community partners. 21CL leadership training includes residential summer leadership institutes, school-year training, school-based clubs, and an online learning platform.

About 21st Century Leaders

Since inception in 1989, 21st Century Leaders has served more than 16,000+ diverse high school students from over 250 Georgia high schools. 21st Century Leaders is a non-profit organization that connects, transforms, and inspires high school students across Georgia to leverage diversity, explore career opportunities, and become leaders in their school, community, and ultimately the workforce. For more information about 21st Century Leaders, visit www.21stcenturyleaders.org

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