Please welcome new YPL member Will Godwin! If you would like to be featured in our next member spotlight, please click here.

What inspired you to become involved with Young Professionals Leaders?

After living in Atlanta for four years and becoming familiar with community around me, I wanted to support and serve an organization like United Way that provides solutions on issues affecting child, family, and community well-being. I was sold after attending a Saturday of Service and experiencing the mission on display.

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

I am most passionate about child well-being, particularly United Way’s Strong Learners program. It’s very important that all children have access to learning and quality learning experiences.

Do you have fun fact or a side hustle (entrepreneurship) that you would like to share with us?

This one is not so fun for me: I broke my left collar bone twice before the age of nine.

On a brighter note, I got engaged last week!

Stephanie is a life-long Atlanta native was a passion for healthcare access. Learn how she became involved in YPL below! If you would like to be featured in our next member spotlight, please click here.

What inspired you to become involved with Young Professionals Leaders?

I’ve lived in Atlanta my entire life and I wanted an opportunity to help improve the well-being of others in our community. I studied management in the social sector and worked with several service organizations in college, and I became particularly interested in helping to create equitable education opportunities when I started mentoring first-generation college students a couple of years ago. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of support and resources to get to where I am, so I’m grateful to be able to work with United Way to help give others the same opportunities I’ve had.

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

As a healthcare professional, I’m particularly passionate about United Way’s work to help families navigate the healthcare system, since it can be extremely challenging and is integral to providing a stable environment for children to grow up in.

Do you have fun fact or a side hustle (entrepreneurship) that you would like to share with us?

I love skiing and have gone almost every year since I was 2 years old!

Obi knows how much the right type of support can help others.  Read on to find out why he chose to give back through YPL and United Way! If you would like to be featured in our next member spotlight, please click here.

What inspired you to become involved with Young Professionals Leaders?

I did not get to where I am by myself. I’ve had help and support from different people since I moved to Atlanta from Chicago, so giving back was something I’ve always had on my mind. Being able to give back and help someone the same way I was helped honestly bring me joy. I volunteered for a snack pack a couple months ago, and a woman who was impacted by it spoke about how much it meant to her, and her family. Right then and there, I spoke to Rashad about wanting to be involved more, and that’s how I became involved with YPL.

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

I am most passionate about supporting the impact committee, and serve the current learning spaces throughout Atlanta. Being present, and seeing what we do takes fruition fuels me and gives me more purpose.

Do you have fun fact or a side hustle (entrepreneurship) that you would like to share with us?

Fun fact about myself is that I am able to assemble a PC/Gaming PC given the right components.


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

 

We’re excited to announce the 2022-2023 Young Professional Leaders (YPL) and Lead. Impact. Network. Change. (LINC) boards. The board members consist of young professionals who have shown amazing leadership throughout our community.

2022-2023 United Way LINC Board
Board Leadership

Latonya Beverly – Chair
LaDarrien Gillette – Vice Chair

Board Members

Kiana Lawrence
Mitchell Hogan
Sam Stargel
Stephanie Schnur
Tahir Temple
Terry Vilayhong
Nigel Walton

2022-2023 United Way’s Young Professional Leaders Board
Board Leadership

Keonda Banks – Chair
Jonathan Hutchins – Vice Chair
Jacob Ethel – Partnership Committee Chair
Jasmine Morgan – Signature Events Committee Chair

Board Members

Tucker Eagle
Alex Garland
Jessica Gibbs
Will Godwin
Leroy Green
Angela Hill
Tyler Johnson
Eric Jones
Crystal Lazarus
Markethia McDonald
Jasmine Mosley
Obinna Onyeaghala
Lisa Pluckebaum
Stefanie Small
Latoya Stephenson-Smith
Richard Taylor
Katherine Tipton
Benjamin Williams
Raymond Williams
Victoria Witherington

Thank you all for your service and commitment! If you would like to reach the boards, or if you would like to learn more about YPL and LINC, please email us at ypl@unitedwayatlanta.org or linc@unitedwayatlanta.org.

As a newcomer to Atlanta, Josh wanted to find an organization where he could give back to the community while also growing professionally. Read on to find out why he chose to YPL and United Way! If you would like to be featured in our next member spotlight, please click here.

What inspired you to become involved with Young Professionals Leaders?

I’m relatively new to the Atlanta area, and when life started to get back to normal after the pandemic I knew I wanted to find an organization where I could give back to the community while also growing professionally. YPL provides me just that. There are so many service opportunities through United Way, and it’s great to be able to give back while also connecting with other like-minded young professionals.

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

I’m passionate about finding all ways to support underserved children through the Child Well-Being program. Being a dad myself, it’s tough to see a child without the resources they need to be all that they can be, and this initiative aims to provide those resources. I’m also passionate about supporting the College and Career Ready initiatives. I work in higher education, so I’m fortunate to see how powerful education is daily.

Do you have fun fact or a side hustle (entrepreneurship) that you would like to share with us?

I have two daughters, Nora and Molly, who are three and one respectively. While there’s a lot of hustle involved with them, they seem to be heavier on the expense side. I do love exploring everything our city has to offer, especially new restaurants and breweries, with family and friends.

Genevieve has a passion for advancing early childhood education opportunities for underserved children in Atlanta – read why she chose to join YPL and United Way to persue that passion! If you would like to be featured in our next member spotlight, please click here.
What inspired you to become involved with Young Professionals Leaders?

Atlanta is a huge city with many worthy causes, so I decided to join Young Professionals Leaders because I was looking for a way to use my skills to support causes that align with my values. YPL also appealed to me because it offers a structure through which to learn about Greater Atlanta businesses, non-profit organizations, and short & long- term initiatives that impact the local economy, cultural vibrancy, and growth of the city. Plus, as a devout Catholic, the exposure to volunteer opportunities at hundreds of different organizations was very attractive to me.

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

Through my role as PNC Bank Client & Community Relations Assistant Director, I have become most passionate about advancing early childhood education opportunities for underserved children in Atlanta. Studies have shown that 90% of brain growth occurs by age 5. United Way’s Strong Learners investment priority, which is part of the Child Well Being Initiative, aims to increase Atlanta families’ access to early learning experiences. These programs support growing minds and ensure students are prepared for kindergarten and on track to read at grade level by 3rd grade.

Do you have fun fact or a side hustle (entrepreneurship) that you would like to share with us?

My current side hustle is babysitting for family members since I enjoy spending time with children and learning about the ways they see the world. My slightly random fun fact is that many people have told me that I should be a hand model. If any nail polish or jewelry brands read this…hit me up!

Meet one of our newest members, Markeitha McDonald! We’re excited to welcome Markeitha to the YPE family! If you would like to be featured in our next member spotlight, please click here.
What inspired you to become involved with Young Professionals Leaders?

I have been a part of United Way in some capacity since college and love the work that United Way does in the community. I decided to get involved with YPL to connect with like-minded young professionals who are passionate about community service, philanthropy, and networking. As a young professional, I feel that it is important to give back time and resources to the community that I live in so that those without the same resources can also flourish.

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

I am most passionate about supporting United Way’s work in Child Well-Being and Mentorship. The youth of our community are the future and equipping our next generation of leaders with the tools, resources and knowledge that they need to thrive is a mission that I believe is of the utmost importance.

Do you have fun fact or a side hustle (entrepreneurship) that you would like to share with us?

Atlanta is such a huge city with many hidden gems, so every month I try to Do/See/Eat. Do something in the city I’ve never done before, See something I’ve never seen before, and Eat somewhere I’ve never eaten before. Recently I tried KR Steakbar in Peachtree Hills and went to the Trap Museum for the first time!

What inspired you to become involved with Young Professionals Leaders?

I have always had an affinity for finding ways to give back to the community. Being able to volunteer with like minded individuals to promote volunteerism of young professional leaders is a dream come true.

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

My passion is making sure every child and youth is college or career ready. I believe if we help equip youth and center them on a career that aligns with their strengths and passions they will succeed at what they do. I had a strong network to guide me as a young adult, but know that many do not have this. I believe as a community we can make sure that every youth has access to the right resources to succeed.

What was the turning point that made you realize the importance of giving back?

I am a firm believer that it is every generation’s responsibility to teach the next generation so they can achieve more than that generation was able to. I’ve had an affinity for learning and was surrounded by volunteerism early in my life. Once I graduated and realized I had skill sets that were needed in the community, I channeled my desire to learn into a passion for teaching the skills that I had learned.

How do you balance your professional life with giving back? How are you continuing to stay involved in the community during a pandemic?

This is a challenge we all face of finding the right balance with family, work and community. However, it comes down to being willing to sacrifice personal time out of my schedule. My work is very demanding, yet can be very flexible. So if I spend a few hours in the morning volunteering, likely I will end up working later that evening, but these are worthwhile sacrifices. A few hours out of my evening is worth it, every time, to impact the youth of tomorrow.

The pandemic has shifted my involvement into virtual volunteering, which has actually made it easier to work into my schedule.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining Young Professional Leaders?

Do it! The network of individuals at YPL are among the brightest in the city. You will be surrounded by a network of like minded individuals that are passionate about their careers and community. What are you waiting for, join YPL!

What aspects of your life motivate you to thrive and why?

I am motivated by business and finance. I channel these passions to help provide ways for me to give back into the community. I believe we are blessed to bless others. What we are given, has been given to us to give back to others in need. This can be tangible or intangible gifts. People should not feel they have nothing to give if they lack material wealth but our story and skills can be a gift to others as much, if not more than finances.

What inspired you to become involved with Young Professionals Leaders?

Although I have lived in the Greater Atlanta area for 5 years, I still felt disconnected from the community. Community service has been an important aspect in my life, and since moving to Georgia, I saw that YPL provided engaging and impactful opportunities in multiple spaces that allowed me to be amongst my peers. Interestingly, United Way’s positive impact has touched my life so many times and its initiatives have run parallel to my core beliefs for years now – I see it as a welcomed destiny to align my efforts with YPL.

What aspect of United Way’s work in the community are you most passionate about supporting?

All of it! I love teaching children, being involved with financial and health education, as well as organizing uplifting professional and entertainment events with the purpose of bringing the local community together. A connected community is so powerful that it can uplift and grow successful members of society for generations to come.

What was the turning point that made you realize the importance of giving back?

I hold a philosophy of Ubuntu – “I AM, because we ARE”. I have always felt that we are all tied to one another. My experience with hardship as a youth was a driver to push for better socio-economic conditions using education early on. However, the turning point to expand my efforts in the community was when BOTH of my parents died consecutively and unexpectedly while entering my 1st and 3rd year of college. That initial feeling of “losing everything”—my mind and spirit—was earth-shattering. All I could do was grasp from the depth of my beliefs to get through the next day, which was to help heal myself through helping others. I imagined that if I was going through this, someone was going through something worse and who could bear that alone? My empathy allowed me to just KEEP. PUSHING. ON. I looked up and I realized that dropping out of college or taking a break was not an option. And as the haze faded, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. The people around me helped tremendously, and most were total strangers! That encouragement and support lit a fire in me to continue using my gifts and time to help others in need.

How do you incorporate giving back into your free time? How are you continuing to stay involved in the community during a pandemic?

I prefer to choose work that I really like to do; therefore, my efforts flow around me and are an extension of who I am. During the pandemic, I elected to engage in various uplifting opportunities, such as reading to children, or planning community events.

What would you say to someone who is considering joining YPL?

Why not have fun and engage with the most awesome people in town?

What aspects of your life motivate you to thrive and why?

I’ve learned to sit still, listen and love myself. In addition, my practice of gratitude has opened the joy and opportunity in each day. Why? Because life, itself is a gift.