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New Leaders Council


Meet the 2016 Atlanta Fellows

Sam Aleinikoff, Executive Director, College AIM


Sam Aleinikoff is the Founder and Executive Director of College AIM, a community based organization that works to transform the college-going cultures of district public schools and provide through-college options for every public school student in Metro-Atlanta. 

Sam began his career in education teaching Special Education at Towers High School in 2011. Quickly he was introduced to the treacherous educational landscape that his students faced – administrative and teaching positions alike served as revolving doors, substitutes taught classes for years at a time, fights and chaos were the daily norm. On Sam’s first day, a veteran teacher told him, “Here, we just play school.” Disturbing as the notion was, it was this pervasive mindset that could, above all, be blamed for the school’s historically low test scores, dismal graduation rates and horrendous post-secondary results. In his first year at Towers, less than 40% of the senior class graduated and less than a quarter continued onto college. 

Redefining his students’ post-graduate expectations became Sam’s mission early on. In January of 2013, Sam founded College AIM to work towards this goal. In the intervening three years, he has developed a curriculum at Towers which now includes credit-bearing College AIM Seminars during the school day, after school SAT and ACT prep courses, extensive local and national college tours, summer college prep bootcamps, significant parent programming and much more. Since College AIM’s launch, Sam has worked with more than 300 students. His first full cohort entered college in the fall of 2015; more than 95% matriculated to college having earned $6.3 million in grants and scholarships. Behind College AIM’s lead, Towers High School saw more than 70% of the senior class graduate and more than 60% continue onto college. 

Today, Sam’s focus is extending College AIM’s reach by developing substantial partnerships with individuals, organizations and school districts working in college access across Metro-Atlanta. In that vein, he hosted the first annual Metro-Atlanta College Access Conference this fall and will be launching the Metro-Atlanta Access Program, a city-wide college access initiative, in the coming year. Plans to expand across Metro-Atlanta will put fully operational College AIM programs in five additional schools by 2017.


Jewel Anderson, Marketing & Development Manager, Leadership DeKalb


Jewel Anderson has an entrepreneurial drive with the passion to create impact and lead organizations to their next level. Her background includes ten years of business development, six years of recruiting, and four years of client relations. Currently, she is a consultant for Leadership DeKalb. In her role there, she manages the Marketing and Development for the organization. She created and implemented their re-branding strategy “Changing the Narrative of Leadership DeKalb” which has increased alumni engagement and membership. She developed and implemented new messaging and is currently leading the organization through a fundraising engagement strategy for increasing revenues towards a $300K budget. Previously, Jewel worked for Year Up as a Career and Alumni Services Specialist. She met and exceeded an 85% outcome of graduates employed in IT related careers within four months of graduating the program. By developing new business and maintaining existing employer accounts, Jewel ensured the employment of 401+ Alumni. Her passion for helping others become hired led her to start her own organization. In 2010, Jewel founded VIRTUOUS Career Services Inc. which is a non-profit organization that provides job readiness to those that need it. Since launched, she partnered with The Bethel Center, a 501c3 organization that works with at-risk young women ages 18-25 to provide career coaching, counseling and job placement. As a leader in the community, Jewel is the founder of Under30 Following the Vision. Under30 Following the Vision is an annual publication, and scholarship program with the mission to help Georgia entrepreneurs 30 years of age and younger get exposure, development, and funding. Her publication has recognized sixty young entrepreneurs and raised $8000 in scholarships year to date. Jewel is actively engaged in her community. She serves as the VP of Fund Development for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Decatur/DeKalb. She is the Service Chair for Young Democrats of Atlanta. She is on the advisory board for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs Organization at Georgia State University. She is the Board Chair for the Jewell Jackson McCabe Emerging Leaders Institute. She is on the Finance Committee for Jewish Family and Career Services and the planning committee of the TEDxYouth@TheBeltline event. Developing her leadership skills, Jewel has had the opportunity to participate in various leadership programs which include Jewish Family and Career Services Tools for Leaders, Jewell Jackson McCabe Emerging Leaders Institute, and a 2012 alumnus of the United Way V.I.P. Board Training Program. In 2014, Jewel received the Nonprofit Leaders "30 Under 30" Award. This year, Jewel was presented with the Outstanding Citizen of Georgia proclamation by State Representative Erica Thomas. Jewel holds an Associates in Communications from Georgia Perimeter College and a Bachelors in Public Policy with a concentration in Non Profit Management from Georgia State University.


Joel Alvarado, Director of Community Outreach and Engagement, Georgia Piedmont Technical College


Joel Alvarado has over 15 years of professional experience in the public and non-profit sectors specializing in public policy, strategic planning, project and executive management, communications, lobbying, research, external relations, and community engagement. He is currently the Director of Community Outreach and Engagement at Georgia Piedmont Technical College. At the college, he works closely with the president to strengthen external relations with public and private sector leaders and pursue partnerships that benefit the college and community. Prior to working at Georgia Piedmont, Joel previously served as Senior Advisor and Legislative Director to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of DeKalb County. Joel has also worked for the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (G-CAPP), Clark Atlanta University, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), as a Congressional Aide and started his own political communications company called Power of the Pen, LLC. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Joel attended Morehouse College where he graduated with a B.A. in History in 1995. Committed to community service and volunteerism, Joel has served on several statewide, county, municipal and non-profit boards and commissions. In 2015, he became a member of the Alliance Theatre advisory board. Joel is an alumnus of several prestigious leadership programs such as the National Community College Hispanic Council Leadership Fellows Program, Regional Leadership Institute, Leadership Atlanta, Leadership DeKalb, Diversity Leadership Academy of Atlanta and Policy Institute for Civic Leadership. Joel lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Dr. Karcheik Sims-Alvarado and son.


Shana Basnight, Program Manager, The Coca-Cola Company


Shana Basnight is passionate about working with early career professionals and helping them flourish in their professional and educational endeavors. Shana currently works at The Coca-Cola Company as a Program Manager with Coca-Cola’s University Talent Programs. She is responsible for recruiting highly motivated college students for internship and leadership development program opportunities. Shana has a Master of Arts degree from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University. Prior to working at The Coca-Cola Company, she spent the first six years of her professional career at her alma mater Emory University, working in areas such as admissions, academic advising, and summer internship programming. During her time at Emory, Shana was able to help attract more diverse candidates to Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, successfully equip graduate and PhD level candidates with the resources needed to finish their MPH or PhD degree program, and help design and implement a transformative summer internship program for college students around the country interested in neuroscience and/or the behavioral sciences. Shana Basnight is actively involved in the community. She serves as a Board Member of the Alliance Theatre Advisory Board and the Hosea Helps Young Professional Influencer Advisory Board. She spends her holidays volunteering with Hosea Helps, which provides food, clothing, medical screenings, legal aid, and more to nearly 20,000 people over the course of 4 major holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and MLK Day). In her spare time, Shana manages an educational consulting firm, Basnight Consulting LLC, where she provides guidance and advice to aspirants applying to college or graduate school. She is also the author of a blog called The ATL Connector ( The ATL Connector showcases Shana’s passion for food, entertainment, and local events. She provides readers with updates of the best that Atlanta has to offer, highlighting fun and mostly free events taking place around town. To learn more about Shana’s educational consulting firm, please check out and to subscribe to her blog, please visit


Elise Blasingame, Director of Community Education and Financial Protection, Georgia Watch

atl-Blasingame.jpegElise Blasingame, LMSW, is the Director of Community Education and Financial Protection for Georgia Watch where she works to empower consumers in the areas of healthcare, personal finance and consumer energy. Elise brings experience from The Carter Center, where she conducted research and implemented programming for both the Mental Health Program and Global Access to Information Initiative. Her work at The Carter Center focused on promoting access to essential health resources and information necessary for economic development within developing contexts, particularly in Liberia, West Africa. Elise is an Atlanta native and returned in 2012 after earning two degrees and serving communities in the State of New York for seven years as an advocate and organizer. Elise received her MSW from the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and is licensed in the State of Georgia. She holds a B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University, where she focused on issues pertaining to inequality and human rights. At the University at Buffalo, Elise received the Chancellor’s Award for Academic Excellence and the Terese Eusanio Memorial Award for her dedication to community service. Elise has extensive experience in community organizing and program evaluation in the fields of economic justice, women’s welfare, and LGBTQ rights. Elise’s research has focused on gender inequality, working conditions and community health programs.


Lauren Ashley Boswell, Education and Public Safety Specialist, 
Office of Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell


Lauren Boswell has always been captivated by space, urban landscapes, culture, and the policy making process that creates diverse and sustainable communities. At the age of 16, Lauren was nominated by Congressmen Steny H. Hoyer to represent Maryland’s 5th district as a House of Representatives Congressional Page. This experience solidified her desire to study Urban and Environmental Planning and African-American Studies at the University of Virginia and work towards creating sustainable policy for America’s most disadvantaged cities and communities. After college, Lauren enthusiastically embraced the challenge to become a Teach for America 2010 Corps member, completing her Master's in Early Childhood Education. Lauren made the commitment to teach Kindergarten for two years in Washington, D.C. and taught a third year in Richmond Public Schools. It was her experience as a teacher in two urban districts that lead Lauren to fight for educational equity for all children. In 2013, Lauren joined the National Urban Fellows program. Lauren was selected as one of 40 mid-career professionals for a competitive 14-month, full-time fellowship program, culminating in a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree from Bernard M. Baruch School of Public Affairs. The program includes a nine-month professional placement with a major public sector organization. Lauren now resides in Atlanta, Georgia, working as the Education and Public Safety Specialist for Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell.


Christine Brodnan, Horizons Atlanta Director, Holy Innocents' Episcopal School


Christine Brodnan is the Site Director for Horizons Atlanta at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, an academic program serving low-income public school students on the campuses of independent schools, colleges, and universities. Chris manages all aspects of the site at Holy Innocents’, from fundraising and development to managing teachers and volunteers. She leads a thirteen-member board drawn from the Sandy Springs community to support the program at Holy Innocents'. Previously, Chris worked with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site, managing a portfolio of community stakeholders invested in improving educational outcomes for children. She was instrumental in creating and expanding the Get Georgia Reading Campaign—the Georgia Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a coalition of partners committed to ensuring all children are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Chris earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Emory University and a Master in Public Administration, with a focus in nonprofit management, from the University of Georgia. She served as President of the Georgia Students for Public Administration and received the Student of the Year Award from the faculty. Chris is an active member of the Junior League of Atlanta, where she currently sits on the Centennial Gift Committee. She volunteers weekly as a reading mentor through Everybody Wins! Atlanta at High Point Elementary School. In 2013, she was named one of the 30 under 30 nonprofit leaders by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. She is a member of the Women to Watch Advisory Council for Georgia’s WIN List. Chris lives with her husband and two rescue dogs and cat in the Peachtree Hills neighborhood. They are members of First Presbyterian Church in Midtown.


Jamilica Burke, Program Director, Playworks Education Energized


Jamilica Burke is the Program Director for Playworks Education Energized, a leading national nonprofit whose mission is to improve the social and emotional health and well-being of children by increasing opportunities for physical activity and safe, meaningful play. In this role, Jamilica manages the recruitment, strategic planning, and implementation of a comprehensive school-based youth development and leadership programs statewide. Prior to this role, Jamilica focused on college and career readiness as the Executive Director of The Princeton Review for Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. She also held multiple management roles with Ombudsman Educational Services that partnered with school districts to design drop-out prevention and workplace readiness programs for at-risk high school and middle school students. As a servant leader and life-long learner, Jamilica believes a great education is key to future success. This belief drives her to lead through empowerment and accountability. She began her career with Teach For America as an educator in Metro-Atlanta and witnessed the devastating effects of inadequate resources and financially marginalized communities on students’ educational experience and success. Through her passion for education and children’s health and well-being, she became an active leader and participant in her community through LEAD Atlanta, Cobb Chamber of Commerce Next Generation Mentoring Program, and the Junior League of Atlanta. She also serves on the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Board of Trustees, the Boys and Girls Club of America Fulton County Board, and ARC’s Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy Implementation Educated Sub-Committee. Jamilica obtained her BA from the University of Chicago in Political Science with a minor in Pre-medicine, and her MS in Educational Leadership from Georgia State University.


Damian Denson, Behavioral Scientist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

atl-Denson.jpgDamian J. Denson, PhD, MPH is a Behavioral Scientist with over fourteen years of research experience in local, state, and national public health initiatives. He has worked in health policy, epidemiology, intervention development, evaluation, behavioral surveillance, and data collection and monitoring. He currently works within the Prevention Research Branch of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. His current projects assess the barriers and facilitators to HIV prevention, care, and treatment for populations at risk including men who have sex with men, substance users, youth, and transgender persons. He was both a former National Institute on Drug Abuse Pre-doctoral Fellow in the Department of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Satcher Health Policy Leadership Fellow at Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Denson also holds a Master of Public Health degree (Community Health) from New York University and a Bachelor of Science degree (Biology) from Xavier University of Louisiana. In his spare time, he enjoys discovering new music, books and film and exploring the Atlanta Beltline.


Jason Dozier, Manager, Plans and Operations, Hire Heroes USA

atl-Dozier.jpegJason is Manager of Plans and Operations at Hire Heroes USA, a national non-profit dedicated to creating job opportunities for veterans and their spouses through military transition training and corporate partnerships.  After graduating from Denison University with a degree in History and Education, Jason joined the United States Army where he served as a Reconnaissance Officer in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  A native Atlantan, he returned to the city to help transitioning military veterans in a full-time capacity while concurrently earning his Master of Public Administration at the University of Georgia.  Jason also holds a Master of Science of Real Estate from Georgia State University.  In addition to his professional work with military veterans, Jason is currently the Chief of Staff for the Young Democrats of Georgia, a 2015 alumnus of LEAD Atlanta, a Political Partner with the Truman National Security Project, and an active volunteer with the Turner Field Community Benefits Coalition.


Esohe Galbreath, Chief Executive Consultant, Sohe Solutions


Esohe Galbreath serves as the Chief Executive Consultant of Sohé Solutions. Established in 2012, Sohé Solutions’ mission is to support growing small businesses through affordable consultation while allowing business stakeholders to focus on their core competencies. Esohe completed her collegiate studies at the University of Kentucky, where she studied Electrical Engineering. In 2004, she began her career at UPS and held management roles in Distribution Solutions, Implementations, Operations, Engineering, and Transportation Solutions, and in her free time assisted small businesses with planning, financial documentation, and tax preparation. In 2012, Esohe merged her corporate experience with her small business consultation experience to form Sohé Solutions – Boutique Small Business Consulting. In early 2015, Esohe decided to dedicate 100% of her time to her entrepreneurial endeavors. Through consulting clients, Esohe discovered a love and passion for working with creatives, artists, and visionaries and inspired her to co-found Urban Art Expression – a company dedicated to encouraging individual art expression and building the individual art experience; ARTiculate ATL – an annual art social featuring 30+ artists with 1,000 art enthusiast attendees; and UAE Youth Artists Program – a 501c3 non-profit bridging the exposure gap of some of Atlanta’s most visually talented youth. As Esohe continues to immerse herself in Atlanta’s rising artist economy, she is a member of the Castleberry Hill Neighborhood Association and finds inspiration living in the historic district with her husband George. She serves as treasurer on the Board of Directors for Village of Wisdom, a non-profit protecting the intellectual curiosity and self-image of Black children from the harmful effects of systemic racial bias. Esohe and George are members of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church.


Joy Guerin, Senior Product Manager, AT&T 


Joy Guerin is passionate about the intersection where education, business, and technology meet. She is currently a Senior Product Manager at AT&T where she manages the browser start experience for over 12 million monthly subscribers, ensuring they receive the news and information they need to know each day. She entered the company through its flagship MBA Rotational Leadership Development Program where she led teams in mobility and cloud operations and drove online self-service adoption. Prior to these roles, she worked as an admissions counselor at Loyola University New Orleans and a Development Marketing Communications Associate at Isidore Newman School. A self-taught web developer. Joy has had a passion for coding since adolescence. For the past 3 years, she has shared this passion by volunteering as a coding instructor for the Atlanta Black Data Processing Associates High School Coding Competition program. She is also a regular volunteer with Amplify 4 Good and is an involved member of the Atlanta technology community. Joy is a native of Baton Rouge, LA, and received a Bachelor of Music in Music Industry Studies with a classical piano concentration and a minor in Communications from Loyola University New Orleans. She also earned an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She has been the recipient of numerous scholarships including the Lagrant Foundation Graduate Marketing Scholarship and is affiliated with a variety of organizations including Management Leadership for Tomorrow and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. In her free time she enjoys singing and writing songs, watching documentaries, and spending time with family and friends.


Adam Johnson, MBA Student, University of Georgia


Adam C. Johnson is currently studying business strategy as an MBA Candidate at the University of Georgia. In addition to attending business school as a full-time student, Adam is a Graduate Assistant to the Student Veterans Resource Center (SVRC) at UGA, where he co-authored a responsive approach to veteran career readiness and regularly advises the SVRC Director on an emerging suite of programs designed to ease the transition of veterans into higher education. Prior to commencing his studies at UGA, Adam served in the U.S. Army for five years as an Infantry Officer with the 82nd Airborne Division and the 75th Ranger Regiment. During his tenure with the military, Adam conducted counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and special operations in Afghanistan during several combat deployments. His military awards include three Bronze Star Medals. Adam earned a Bachelors Degree in Irregular Warfare (military strategy) from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and also ran NCAA Div. 1 Track. Following his graduation from business school at UGA, he intends to work at the intersection of business and policy.


Bee Nguyen, Executive Director, Athena's Warehouse, Inc. 


A daughter to immigrant parents, Bee watched her father work two jobs while her mother, with limited English proficiency and financial resources, raised five girls in an unfamiliar country. Her parents, who fled Vietnam, emphasized the value of education and economic independence. Though she did not follow the more traditional career paths encouraged by her family, she discovered within her a talent for entrepreneurship and an innate love for women and girls. Combining these gifts, she created Athena’s Warehouse, a nonprofit that empowers teen girls to become leaders in their communities. Since 2009, she has served nearly 400 girls in Atlanta, primarily in the Buford Highway area, an immigrant ­rich community. Her prior experiences include work with Boat People SOS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and most recently the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. She graduated from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies with a Master of Public Administration in 2012. In addition to serving as the Executive Director for Athena's, Bee is a member of the Atlanta Regional Commission Millennial Panel, a mentor for the Wren's Nest, and a fellow with the 2015 Georgia Women Policy Institute program.


Roshawnna Novellus, Founder & President, Novellus Financial & Bootstrap Capital


Dr. Roshawnna Novellus is a financial strategist for tech entrepreneurs, real estate investors, and small businesses. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, she provides financial services through her firm, Novellus Financial, while also supporting the local community through her work at Amplify 4 Good and training programs via The Wealthy Yogi. She founded Novellus Financial to provide business consulting and financial strategy to those interested in hands-on assistance with maximizing wealth and reaching their goals. Novellus Financial specializes in small business financial strategy, business consulting, IRS problem resolution, and investor readiness. She enjoys working with driven, ambitious, forward thinking entrepreneurs to help attract investment, sustain revenue and profit, and optimize ROI on products and services. After serving multiple businesses in the high tech sector, She co-founded Bootstrap Capital to help deserving diverse dreamers and those who want to invest in the innovation ecosystem accomplish their dreams. Bootstrap Capital provides access to capital and development for multicultural, early-stage, determined, and coachable entrepreneurs in a pioneering, impactful, and inspiring environment with an authentic, approachable, and positive spin. Through connecting and exposing them to the innovation ecosystem resources, including capital, entrepreneurs take advantage of our hybrid investment model. Bootstrap Capital provides financial returns to investors seeking access to profit through unique deal flow, while creating a positive financial legacy for pioneering investors in a savvy, impactful environment with a simple approach. Bootstrap Capital helps investors make a profit through our diversified hybrid portfolio. She holds a Doctor of Science in systems engineering, with a minor in finance from George Washington University, a Master of Science in information technology emphasizing in information systems engineering, a Bachelor of Arts in business management economics, and a Bachelor of Science in computer engineering, achieving Summa Cum Laude in each. She is federally licensed as an Enrolled Agent to represent taxpayers in front of the IRS, and has passed the Series 7 Exam.


Bourgogne Ollie, National Education Alliance Manager, Career Education Corporation


Bourgogne Ollie is a business development professional with proven expertise in client solution focused consulting. Over the last 5 years she has strengthened the brand of several companies by creating national partnerships with C-level clients that address their learning & developmental needs. Currently, she is the National Education Alliance Manager for one of the largest post-secondary higher education providers. In her role, she spearheads new business expansion and re-engineers corporate branding efforts with Fortune 100 & 500 companies. Ollie has delivered more than 60 training and development workshops that address professional branding and leadership. This year she was recognized by American Airlines Diversity Network as a Key Contributor. Prior to her current role, Bourgogne was the National Relationship Manager of Government & Corporate Accounts for DeVry University in Chicago, Illinois. Within her territory, she cultivated national corporate accounts which included Xerox, Office Depot, and UPS. She successfully exceeded annual sales by addressing skills gap training solutions and increasing student enrollment. In 2012, Ollie was awarded the Community Outreach Award of Excellence for developing the fastest growing market and for cultivating the most community partnerships within the community college system. Bourgogne is an active volunteer in the community. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a recent graduate of the United Way V.I.P. Board Training Program, and serves as the Board Development Representative for I Will Survive Inc.  She is the Vice Chairperson of the Advisory Board for Lakeside High School-Career Technology Department. She is also a member of the Georgia Higher Education Alliance. Bourgogne was born in Chicago, IL and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Corporate Communications from Northern Illinois University. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Keller Graduate School of Management.


Xavier Peoples, Regional Finance Manager, Zurich


Xavier Peoples is no stranger to the world of finance and economics as he has been teaching financial literacy since he was 18 to underserved youth and their parents. He had his first opportunity to do so through his church where he held a financial literacy workshop teaching kids the fundamentals of finance. After doing so, he was quickly sought out by others for his services. Maintaining true to his strengths he remained active in finance while earning his degrees. His dynamic career started from the Federal Reserve Bank in the Financial Statistics division to working for top financial institutions such as Wachovia as a Private Banker, and Union Bank of California as a Portfolio Manager. Although he takes pride in his professional accomplishments, he is most proud of being a loving husband and father of three. Xavier remains true to his passion for entrepreneurship and community involvement as he enjoys teaching the skills he’s accumulated over the years to the youth and building with millennials on solutions for community issues. “Being involved in the community matters to me because, I feel that our community does not realize the power that we have through economics and education. If I can get a few to realize their power then I feel like I have made an impact.” Today, Xavier is the managing partner of M Bar and curator of #PoliticsAfterDark, a weekly event that merges entertainment and politics to influence millennials socially and engage them politically. He also works for Zurich North America as the South - Regional Finance Manager. In addition to that he also serves as Treasurer for Influencer Coalition which is an organization that focuses on the informing, empowerment, and engagement of African American underprivileged communities to affect positive change through political engagement and advocacy.


Clara Puerta-Navarro, Community Relations Director, El Nuevo Georgia


Clara Puerta-Navarro is the Community Relations Director for El Nuevo Georgia Newspaper. She received her undergrad degree in Information Systems from Mercer University in Macon, GA. She received a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Virginia College in Birmingham, Alabama. Ms. Puerta-Navarro has worked for both a state government agency and several non-profit organizations in Metro Atlanta. For Ms. Puerta-Navarro, giving back to the community is a priority. Clara is a co-founder of “De la Mano de Dios”, an organization that helps 130 children back in her native country (Colombia) with toys and school supplies and encourages the children to stay in school. In 2014 was co-founder of “Restaurando el Templo” a walking program to help overweight individuals live a healthier lifestyle by making small changes such as eating healthy and walking. Clara overcame her weight issues and is an example to others struggling with these issues. Ms. Puerta-Navarro is a volunteer with One Billion Rising (OBRA), an organization that works with the community to break the cycle of domestic violence. She is a volunteer for civil engagement within the Latino community and she is an active member of Emprendedores Latinos (Latino Entrepreneurs), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower small business owners in the Metro Atlanta area.


Ryan Shepard, Clerk of Court, City of Atlanta


Ryan was born and raised in Los Angeles, Ca. He earned his undergraduate degree in Philosophy from Morehouse College in 2008. While at Morehouse, Ryan served in several organizations and leadership capacities, including the Morehouse College Honors Program, the Student Senate, and the Student Government Association as the 2007-2008 Vice President. He also worked closely with the Morehouse College Leadership Center, including as an Oprah Winfrey South Africa Fellow. Ryan founded an international community service program called The Arché during the 2006-07 school year. The organization selected students for year-long fellowships where they designed and implemented service learning programs abroad, in countries including South Africa, Lesotho, and Colombia. In 2008 Ryan joined Teach for America as a corps member in the Atlanta Metro Region He was a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher in South Fulton County at Seaborn Lee Elementary. In 2010, he was a Reynolds Foundation Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship at the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership. While at Harvard, Ryan also served as Student Government Association President. In 2011, Ryan earned a Masters of Education Policy and Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. After graduate school, Ryan returned to Atlanta to join McKinsey & Company before taking a role as an internal consultant in the office of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. In 2015 Ryan became the youngest person in the city’s history appointed as Clerk of Court and Court Administrator for the City of Atlanta Municipal Court. Outside of work, Ryan enjoys international travel, cooking and volunteerism. He serves as Treasurer on the board of the nonprofit Full Court Peace, an organization that promotes conflict resolution through basketball domestically and abroad. Full Court Peace works with community members in cities like Belfast, Juarez, Havana, and Bridgeport. Ryan is the founder of a social impact organization called The Human Capital Theory (HCT). HCT is a movement that creates engaging and responsible approaches to community-based economic development.


Nse Ufot, Executive Director, New Georgia Project


Nse Ufot's life and career have been dedicated to working on various civil, human, and workers rights issues; as the Executive Director of the New Georgia Project, she is proud to lead the organization to its goal of strengthening the state's democracy by registering and engaging Georgia’s roughly 800,000 eligible, but unregistered African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Prior to joining the New Georgia Project, Ms. Ufot worked as the Assistant Executive Director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, Canada's largest faculty union and she was the Senior Lobbyist and Government Relations Officer for the American Association of University Professors where she coordinated initiatives for mobilizing members around legislation and regulations that impacted higher education and labor law. Ms. Ufot, a proud naturalized citizen, was born in Nigeria and raised in Southwest Atlanta. She earned a BSc at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a JD from the University of Dayton School of Law. Nsé enjoys international travel, listening and playing music from the African Diaspora, and hosting house parties for close friends and family. She is also fluent in French and English.


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