After serving seven years with United Way of Greater Atlanta Linc and Young Professional Leaders, it is my absolute joy and privilege to step up as the 2022-2023 Young Professional Leaders Chair, carrying out our mission of uniting and equipping young leaders to build a greater Atlanta.

I have always had a strong passion for uplifting and advocating for our children, the most vulnerable in our communities. Only one-third of the children living in Atlanta and surrounding communities are having their early childcare needs met, resulting in only 1 of 5 third graders being strong readers. This limits their opportunities and makes them four times more likely to drop out of school.

Through United Way’s Strong Learners pillar, we work to improve educational outcomes for children by expanding early learning opportunities, increasing support outside of school, and helping to strengthen families’ health and financial stability through a holistic approach starting from infancy. This includes expanding access to early education, building reading skills, increasing healthcare navigation, securing basic housing needs, and strengthening family engagement through community partnerships.

As the 2022-2023 Chair, I am excited about the opportunities that sit before us and the impact we will make as young professionals serving our community. Living through two years of a pandemic and seeing the effects it has had not only on our own lives but on the lives of our loved ones and those in the communities where we live, we are more enthusiastic and ready as ever to roll up our sleeves and get to work. We are a group of young professionals that puts our passion to work to serve, grow as leaders, and develop as professionals together.

This is a humbling, full-circle moment to be able to serve the community in this capacity. The United Way’s mission of engaging and bringing together people and resources to drive sustainable and equitable improvements in the well-being of children, families, and individuals in the community is near and dear to my heart, as I have seen and experienced the impact of the work in my own life. I am compelled to pay it forward.

I’ll close with this, “Without service, we would not have a strong quality of life. It’s important to the person who serves as well as the recipient. It’s the way in which we ourselves grow and develop.” – Dorothy Height

Keonda M Banks

2022-2023 United Way YPL Chair