Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Jyoti Sharma

For our 35th anniversary, we’ll be sharing the stories of 35 alumni showcasing the leaders they are today and how 21st Century Leaders inspired and impacted their journey. Alumni will represent the 3.5 decades since our founding in 1989 – the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s. Take a read and be inspired!

35th Anniversary Alumni Spotlight


1990’s Decade
: Dr. Jyoti Sharma
H.S. Grad Year: Class of 1998
High School: Chamblee Charter High School
College: Emory University
Current Role: Medical Director, Women’s Heart Program at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital

How has your career unfolded and how did participating in 21CL help prepare you for your next steps going to college, taking on a new leadership role in community/college and after?

I grew up in Atlanta and prided myself on going to a high achieving diverse magnet high school.  As a young woman of color, I felt like my school and family had taught me a good deal about diversity and understanding others.  During my summer with 21CL, I remember how I was struck to spend time with students from rural and small communities that were nothing like mine. 21CL taught me that the concept of diversity encompasses more than just ethnicity and socioeconomic status and helped me to expand my idea of community and instilled in me the importance of seeking to understand others.  As a practicing physician, I know that I am doing the right thing for the patient when I first listen and then seek to truly understand their concerns.     

What’s your memorable or ‘aha’ moment during your time at 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peer, speaking in public for the first time, etc.)

One of my most memorable moments at 21CL was leading my first group discussion and actually putting leadership into practice.  Being a leader is challenging and takes a lot of work.  Spending the week interacting with other young leaders gave me the confidence to stand up and practice my leadership skills, things like- communicating effectively, being an active listener, practicing problem-solving, and building up the courage to speak with authenticity.    

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? If so, how? 

Before I went to 21CL, I had not interacted with students outside my neighborhood and immediate community.  It was a great opportunity to meet students with different families, different values, different academic priorities, and meet students who had different ways of imagining what success could look like for them in the future.  Learning how to communicate and build bridges with other students that were not like me was one of the most valuable skills that I learned at 21CL.  I spend most of my days now communicating with different people across a large healthcare system and aligning members of different groups behind important initiatives.  My time at 21CL was foundational for my understanding and practice of how I relate and communicate with others.  

Why do you believe programs like 21CL are important? And what advice would you give to a current or future student?

My advice for a current and future student is to Believe in yourself!  So many of us struggle with self-doubt, with imposter syndrome and ask ourselves “Do I belong here?  Am I good enough?”   The answer is yes!  My summer with 21CL was critical in building my understanding of my leadership potential and abilities.  It was a place to explore the kind of leader I wanted to be and gave me access to connect with others so I could understand what different kinds of leadership styles looked like in real life.  I want to encourage students to stretch themselves, try something hard, stick with it, and believe in themselves. 

Share the inspiration!

21st Century Leaders Launches 4th Summer Leadership Institute

21st Century Leaders Announces 4th Summer Program Focused on Leadership within the Healthcare Industry

Piedmont Healthcare commits to 2 years of funding

ATLANTA – February 5, 2020 21st Century Leaders (21CL) announced today the launch of a fourth summer leadership institute as it starts its fourth decade of service to the state of Georgia. The launch of this new program is made possible from the support of corporate partners and individual donors thus far. 21CL 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 schools, communities, and ultimately the workforce.

21CL’s one-week residential summer leadership institute, Healthcare & IT Institute, will be held for 50 Georgia high school students from July 12, 2020 through July 17, 2020 on the campus of Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. 21st Century Leaders is proud to have the following corporate partners, thus far, supporting the launch of this program: Attento Counseling, Piedmont Healthcare, AllHealth CHOICE, and Meadows Regional Medical Center.

“We’re always finding ways to serve and reach more students across the state of Georgia, diversify our career exploration opportunities, and identify the needs within our state,” said Kate Hewitt, executive director of 21st Century Leaders. “Healthcare is one of Georgia’s leading industry sectors and it’s critical that we’re exposing students to all of the career pathways available to them, and to develop a diverse pipeline of talent and leaders to create change and impact in this industry.”

Dr. Jyoti Sharma, Cardiologist, Medical Director of Women’s Heart Program, and Medical Director of Advanced Practice Providers at Piedmont Healthcare says she’s proud of Piedmont for not only stepping forward as the first corporate sponsor to support 21st Century Leaders as they launch their inaugural Healthcare & IT Institute, but also for committing two years of funding.

“Piedmont’s core promise ‘to make a positive difference in every life we touch’ applies not only to our patients, employees, and co-workers, but also to high school students across the state of Georgia.  Service to our community is at the heart of all that we do we and we hope that exposure to our institution and our values will inspire these students to become the next generation of healthcare leaders,” said Dr. Sharma. 

21st Century Leaders established a Healthcare Steering Committee led by industry professionals in summer 2019 to help launch and implement the week-long institute.  The 14 member committee, three of whom are 21st Century Leaders Alumni, is comprised of Machelle Baisden of Grady Hospital, Ray Cross of AllHealth CHOICE, Marie Cameron of Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business, Dr. Jacque-Corey Cormier of Georgia State University’s School of Public Health (21CL Alumnus), Ralph Donaldson of WiseThink Health Solutions, Dr. Shaneeta Johnson of Morehouse School of Medicine, Jesse Lindsely of Thrust Interactive. Amanda Mewborn of Navicent Health, James Nixon of Meadows Regional Medical Center (21CL Alumnus), Shane Owens of Thrust Interactive, Rhett Partin, Georgia Hospital Association, Dr. Jyoti Sharma, Piedmont Healthcare (21CL Alumna), Melissa Tymchuk of Northeast Georgia Health System, and Stephen Vault of WellStar.

21st Century Leaders is still accepting corporate partners and donations to help support this program launch and to eliminate as much financial cost to students. To learn more and get involved, please contact 21CL’s Executive Director directly at or 404-373-7441.

About 21CL’s Healthcare & IT Institute (HII)
Healthcare/IT Institute (HII) is a week-long dynamic and healthcare-focused leadership development program held the second week of July at Kennesaw State University. Each day of HII, students will develop their leadership skills while exploring different facets of the growing healthcare and healthcare IT business world through hands-on workshops with passionate professionals, networking opportunities and corporate tours. Students will reside in the dorms on the college campus for the 6-day, overnight program. All rising sophomore, junior, or senior Georgia high school students are eligible to apply. An online application and recommendation form must be submitted by March 1, 2020 in order to be considered for an interview and selection.

HII is just one of three summer leadership institutes 21st Century Leaders provides. 21st Century Leaders also partners with WarnerMedia for it’s Youth Media Institute, Georgia Power Foundation for it’s EarthCare institute, and multiple companies, including Coca-Cola Company, for it’s SYLI program at Emory’s Goizueta Business School.

About 21st Century Leaders
Since inception in 1989, 21st Century Leaders has served more than 14,000 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. 21st Century Leaders launched it’s first summer residential program in 1991, and now provides year-round leadership development and career exploration programs, including leadership summits, an online learning platform, and school-based clubs. For more information about 21st Century Leaders, visit



Media Contact:
Kate Hewitt
Executive Director, 21st Century Leaders