Ilham Askia Announced as Next President & CEO of the East Lake Foundation

The East Lake Foundation’s Board of Directors is thrilled to announce that Ilham Askia has been named President & CEO. Askia will start in her new role on September 1, 2022.

Askia joins the East Lake Foundation at a critical moment of transformation and opportunity as it continues its work to increase the health and wellbeing for residents, to advance racial equity, and to create pathways from poverty to prosperity in East Lake.

Askia is a seasoned nonprofit leader with a deep commitment to advancing social justice and equity. She brings 18+ years leadership experience, most recently as Executive Director of Gideon’s Promise, a 501(c)(3) public defender organization whose mission is to transform the criminal justice system by building a movement of public defenders who provide equal justice for marginalized communities. Prior to becoming Executive Director, she served as a Program Director at Gideon’s Promise, where she worked with and helped to recruit new public defenders, as well as develop relationships throughout the Southeast.

She formerly served as an educator from 1999 to 2007. Askia began her career in early childhood education as a Teach for America Fellow in District of Columbia Public Schools and then later taught and facilitated teacher training in the charter school system before moving to Georgia. She served as a first-grade teacher, chaired the First Grade Team, and wrote the Math curriculum for Fulton County Schools.

Askia holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in City/Urban, Community, and Regional Planning, and a master’s degree in Elementary Education and Teaching from Trinity Washington University. She currently serves as a committee member of Leadership Atlanta, a post she’s held since 2017, and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Society of International Business Fellows (SIBF), which she joined in January 2021. She will begin her tenure on the National Head Start HSN Board this fall.

“We are thrilled to have someone with Ilham’s background and experience join the team and look forward to her continuing to strengthen the outstanding work of the East Lake Foundation,” said Phil Jacobs, Chairman of the East Lake Foundation Board of Directors.

The Foundation has been fortunate to ensure a continuity of leadership with Catherine Woodling who has served as the organization’s interim leader since February 2022. She will continue to serve in that capacity until Askia begins in September, when she will serve as Chief Operating Officer, responsible for the Foundation’s daily operations, administration, finances, and communications and marketing.

About the East Lake Foundation
Founded in 1995 by developer and philanthropist Tom Cousins, the East Lake Foundation collaborates with public and private organizations to provide tools and equitable opportunities that enable Atlanta’s East Lake residents to build a better future through its integrated model for community revitalization.

The East Lake model includes cradle-to-college education at Drew Charter School and its early learning partners (Atlanta Speech School, the East Lake Family YMCA, and Sheltering Arms East Lake); mixed-income housing at The Villages of East Lake; and community wellness through its Resident and Community Support Program and partners’ programs including The First Tee® of Metro Atlanta at the Charlie Yates Course, Start:ME East Lake, a micro-entrepreneurship program with Emory University, and the East Lake YMCA’s East Lake Healthy Connections. This approach to building a strong community not only helps break the intergenerational cycle of poverty, but also creates a place where people of all ages and incomes choose to live.

The redevelopment of East Lake has become a national model for integrated and holistic community redevelopment in 27 additional neighborhoods across the country through Purpose Built Communities. For more information, please visit