Daniel Shoy, Jr
President & CEO
Daniel Shoy, Jr. serves as President & CEO of the Foundation. He is responsible for its strategic plan and goal setting focused on its mission on its mission to provide tools for families in The Villages of East Lake and students in the Charles R. Drew Charter School pipeline to build better lives for themselves and future generations through a holistic approach to community revitalization that incorporates mixed-income housing, cradle-to-college education and community wellness. With overall responsibility for the Foundation’s operations and external relations, he is also charged with sustaining strong relationships with the Foundation’s partners. Since joining the Foundation as Program Director in 2010, he has also served as Deputy Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer.
Daniel has 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector with organizations focused on youth and community development. Prior to joining the East Lake Foundation, Daniel worked for The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation for 10 years and was responsible for awarding $28M in grants.
Since 2002, Daniel has completed several leadership programs through the United Way of Greater Atlanta, Southeast Council of Foundations, LEAD Atlanta, Association of Black Foundation Executives, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, and Leadership Atlanta .
Daniel currently serves on the boards of the East Lake Foundation, East Lake Housing Corporation, Charles R. Drew Charter School, the University of Georgia Board of Visitors, Hands on Atlanta. He previously served on Emory University’s Board of Governors and the Atlanta Public Schools’ Affordable Housing Taskforce (2017). Daniel has been recognized by Atlanta Tribune as a Man of Distinction (2016) and as one of Georgia Trend Magazine’s Notable Georgians (2017 and 2018). He’s been a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. since 1994 and is currently active with its Nu Mu Lambda Chapter.
Daniel is a first generation American from New York City, speaks two other languages and enjoys international travel, sports and photography. He earned a B.A. in History from Emory University in 1995 and in 2013 was named an Emory College Distinguished Alumni.
Chief Operating Officer
As Chief Operating Officer (COO), the Foundation’s second highest executive role, Rhonda is responsible for the Foundation’s operations, administration, finances, programs and programmatic partnerships. She ensures all programs deliver desired and consistently-improving results, on time and within budget.
Rhonda has deep experience in the non-profit sector, having dedicated over half of her career to mission based organizations. For three years, she was the Director of Development for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in Washington, DC, an organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Rhonda also worked with the Henry W. Grady Health System Foundation in Atlanta and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) in Washington, DC. She began her career as a consultant and business development professional with CGI-AMS, a technology consulting firm based in Northern Virginia.
A graduate of the University of Virginia, Rhonda earned her Master of Business Administration in 2013 from Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, and was inducted into the business honor society, Beta Gamma Sigma.
Rhonda has served on the National Board of Directors for the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) and locally on the Advisory Boards for the Georgia Charter Schools Association, the Emmaus House, and Oglethorpe University’s Center for Civic Engagement. She currently serves on the Board of the East Lake Housing Corporation. Rhonda is an active member of the Atlanta Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc., currently serving as Fundraising Chair for the chapter. Rhonda, and her husband, are proud parents of two boys, both students in the East Lake Foundation’s cradle-to-college education pipeline.
Vice President of Development
Aaron James serves as the Vice President of Development for the Foundation. Previously, Aaron served as the Vice President of Development and Education for the Georgia Aquarium. At the Aquarium, Aaron was responsible for securing and stewarding six presenting partners (The Home Depot, Southern Company, AT&T, SunTrust, Georgia-Pacific and Southwest Airlines). Additionally, individual, corporate and foundation philanthropy grew 6% during his tenure, and he secured nearly $650,000 to bring over 50,000 Title I students to Georgia Aquarium, 90% of whom had never seen the ocean firsthand. The annual fundraising budget was $9 million dollars.
Prior to the Georgia Aquarium, Aaron served 14 years in independent/private PK-12th grade schools in a variety of capacities including Director of Admissions, Lower School Principal and Director of Advancement.
Aaron grew up in Wichita, Kansas and attended San Diego State University where he was a 4-year varsity letter winner for its nationally ranked Division I soccer team. While at SDSU, Aaron earned a BA in Psychology and an MA in Sport & Exercise Psychology.
Aaron is the father of four children between the ages of 11 and 5. In his spare time, Aaron participates in golf and tennis.
Director of Communications and Marketing
Catherine Woodling, Director of Communications and Marketing. Catherine oversees strategic communications and media relations for the East Lake Initiative, working primarily with the East Lake Foundation, Drew Charter School and the East Lake Golf Club. Most recently, Catherine served as Corporate Communications Manager for The Home Depot where she was responsible for crisis/issues and human resources communications. Previously, she served as the Public Relations and Communications Manager for The Home Depot Foundation. Prior to joining The Home Depot, Catherine served as the Media Relations Officer for Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.
As a native Atlantan, Catherine enjoys being involved in the community. She serves as a board member of the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and the Reynoldstown Civic Improvement League, where she serves as President. She is the Vice Chair of the City of Atlanta NPU-N and is a member of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2010. She has been recognized as one of Atlanta’s Power 30 Under 30(2007), Georgia Trend Magazine’s 40 Under 40 (2016) and Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 (2017).
She graduated from the University of Arizona Honors College with a degree in Political Science. She is also a graduate of the Arizona Blue Chip Leadership Program, a formal four-year leadership program that emphasizes community involvement.
Operations and Special Initiatives Manager
Sharon Hall-Thomas is Operations and Special Initiatives Manager for the Foundation. Before joining the Foundation in 2000 as Executive Assistant, she served as an administrative assistant for the law firm of Rubin, Winter, Rapoport and Hall. She also worked as an administrative assistant for the Child Support Enforcement Agency, acting as liaison between the agency and the court system. She attended Georgia State University and volunteers regularly at Charles R. Drew Charter School in East Lake.
Senior Accounting Manager
Alecia Grimes serves as the Senior Accounting Manager for the East Lake Foundation and Purpose Built Communities. In her role, Alecia is responsible for ensuring that all financial information for East Lake Foundation and Purpose Built Communities is accurate and timely. While Alecia is responsible for reporting financial information to the Foundation’s Board of Directors, she is also the financial liaison between the Foundation and our business partners. Prior to joining the East Lake Foundation, Alecia worked for several years at the Cousins’ Family Office. Alecia also has extensive experience in state government, credit services, residential real estate, and network entertainment.
Alecia is a native Georgian. She holds an accounting degree from Georgia State University and is pursuing a Master of Accounting degree from Kennesaw State University. Professionally, Alecia is affiliated with the AICPA & Georgia Society of CPAs. Alecia is also active in her community. She is currently on the board of her homeowner’s association and has served on the board of the Brookwood Basketball Association.
Alecia is a wife and mother of 3 wonderful teenagers.
Special Programs and Partnership Manager
Joi Jackson is the Special Programs and Partnership Manager for the Foundation. In this role, she ensures effective execution of special projects and assists in the collaboration, coordination and communication of Foundation partnerships. She serves as the primary coordinator for Start: ME East Lake, a micro-entrepreneur accelerator program, and several Foundation scholarship programs. In addition, she supports the organizations’ development efforts by managing the employee, matching gift and TOUR Tribute programs; serving as liaison to Drew Charter School on the Drew Memorial project; and assisting with recruitment, screening and placement of volunteers. Joi brings a wealth of professional experience and civic involvement to the Foundation. She began her professional career in sales and has owned and operated several businesses. An Atlanta native, she has also been active and vital in Atlanta’s business, civic, and spiritual community for most of her life. Joi is a graduate of Howard University and is currently a member of Posse Atlanta Leadership Council, ServeHaiti, Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and The Links, Inc.
Jessie Bond is the Foundation’s Grants Manager, responsible for research and development of grant proposals, along with grants reporting for the Foundation. Jessie has served as a consultant to a number of nonprofits and foundations and was formerly Senior Program Officer for the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta as well as a Grants Officer for the Appalachian Community Fund. She began her career as a reporter and editor. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, Jessie also holds a masters from Georgetown University.
Annual Fund Manager
Chad Cox serves as the Annual Fund Manager for the East Lake Foundation. He joined the East Lake Foundation after working at the Foundation as a graduate fellow. His responsibilities include overseeing the annual appeal and working with individuals, corporations and community partners to provide the residents of East Lake with resources and opportunities to achieve success.
Chad graduated cum laude from Georgia State University honor’s college with a B.A in Political Science and is currently in the MPA program at GSU’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies concentrating in management and finance.
From Suwanee, Georgia, Chad has lived in and around Atlanta his entire life. He enjoys traveling, golfing, skiing and spending time with his fiancé and their dog Teddy.
Fundraising Events and Volunteer Manager
Jeannine Blanco is the Fundraising Events and Volunteer Manager for the Foundation. In her role, she is responsible for all aspects of events contributing to the annual development goals. These events include Party on the Green, Swing for East Lake and Corporate Play Dates. She also works on logistics and planning for PGA TOUR Championship, East Lake Invitational and East Lake Cup. Additionally, she leads the East Lake Women’s Alliance (ELWA) from recruitment, to planning sessions, to leading the year end “giving night.” She manages the event volunteer leadership, event logistics and planning, volunteer recruitment, screening, placing, orienting, training, managing, tracking and recognizing volunteers. Previously, Jeannine worked at State Farm Insurance for 19 years, serving in a variety of roles, including Recruiter, Public Affairs and Multicultural Markets Specialist in Georgia, Washington State and the New York City area.
Jeannine holds a B.A. degree in English from the University of Rochester and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. She is a wife and mother of two elementary aged children. In her spare time, Jeannine enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Dwayne Watkins servers as the Data Manager for the Foundation. He is primarily responsible for managing, storing, organizing and monitoring program data across the East Lake Initiative to show collaborative impact. Dwayne continues to research and stay informed on all data trends and initiatives that help strengthen and sustain the work being done across the East Lake initiative. He also continues cultivate ELF data by formalizing data practices, implementing data sharing agreements which hopes that the data model be replicated in other organizations across the country under the Purpose Built Communities umbrella.
Dwayne Watkins, a recipient of the 2016 Top 25 Game Changers in workforce, moved to “big City” of Atlanta from a small town called Lumber Bridge, North Carolina with hopes of changing the lives of at risk youth and underserved populations. He studied Sociology and Africana Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and immediately began what he calls “soul work” as he worked for a local nonprofit immediately after graduating college. Leveraging his education in data and evaluation, work experience in workforce development, coupled with his natural passion around social justice and interest in community redevelopment, The East Lake Foundation has been home and a natural fit for the last three years.
Director of The First Tee® of East Lake
Nyre Williams is Director of The First Tee® of East Lake. Previously, he was director of The First Tee of Nashville. During his tenure at The First Tee of Nashville, he completed his First Tee Coach Certification, distinguishing him as one of only 44 First Tee coaches nationwide to reach this level of achievement. He received his undergraduate degree in health and physical education from Tennessee State University where he played on the school’s golf team.
Assistant Director for The First Tee® of East Lake
Jeff Dunovant is the Head Golf Pro at the Charlie Yates Golf Course and the Assistant Director for The First Tee® of East Lake. He became a Professional Golfers Association (PGA) member in 1993, making him and his father the first and only black father and son PGA members. Jeff became a The First Tee Recognized Coach in November 2010. Jeff has been a First Tee National Trainer since 2012. In 2012 Jeff was named the Georgia PGA Section and Chapter Junior Golf Leader of the year. Jeff graduated from Fayetteville State University, where he was the captain of the golf team and MVP. He served on the Southwest Section PGA Board of Directors and has served on the Georgia Section PGA Board of Directors since 2005.
The First Tee® of East Lake Instructor
Brittny Lott is a native of Decatur, Georgia and developed an interest in golf at the tender age of 12. Brittny was introduced to the game by her father, the late James E. Bryant II, and he encouraged her to play. She became such an enthusiast, she started the girls golf team at her high school. She played and led the team as captain until she graduated and recieved a scholarship to Southern University A&M College for golf. While there, Brittny was a part of a team that eventually won two SWAC championships. Brittny graduatedwith a Biology degree and eventually came back to Atlanta, got married and landed an amazing job with The First Tee® of East Lake. She is now a very happy mother and is aspiring to become a PGA and LPGA teaching professional. Brittny’s hopes are that by accomplishing these goals she can inspire young girls/women to excel in the game of golf.
The First Tee® of East Lake Instructor
Kelly Willis acquired her love for golf as a participant in The First Tee® of East Lake. She was able to take the golf skills she learned at the Chapter and turn it into a college golf Scholarship. She attended Benedict College, where she was the MVP and captain of the Women’s golf program. She graduated in May of 2015 earning her degree in Sport Management. While in school, she would come back and work at the The First Tee® of East Lake as an instructor during the summer programs. She found she had a passion for impacting participants in the same way she was impacted. She joined The First Tee® of East Lake team in 2016. She quickly made an impact and is now a Level One Coach.
Jennifer W. McCrary
Director of Outreach and Engagement
Jennifer W. McCrary serves as the Director of Outreach and Engagement. Jennifer is an experienced workforce and community engagement professional who is passionate about people who want to improve themselves through personal and professional transformation.Her leadership and commitment has been nurtured through her work experience in higher education and non-profit leadership. She has always been a guiding force in her personal and professional relationships. Her optimistic and encouraging spirit has made her a positive agent of change.
Jennifer has worked and partnered with organizations such as 22nd Century Career Development Associates, The University of Alabama, The University of Georgia, Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta Technical College, Griffin Technical College, The Center for Working Families, Inc., The Sullivan Center, JLON Teleservices and Erotser, LLC.
Jennifer’s has over 10 years of workforce development experience, financial coaching training and partner and community engagement through programming. She is also certified in Global Career Development Facilitation and Offender Workforce Development. She is affiliated with the Professional Association of Professional Resume Writers and Career Coaches and the International Association of Coaches.
Jennifer is a native Atlantan, and a proud product of the Atlanta Public School System and University System of Georgia. Her personal motto is to begin with the end in mind and see yourself already there!
Resident and Community Support Program Manager
Tywonia Orum serves as the Resident and Community Support Program Manager.
After 11 years of working with State Farm, Tywonia decided to transition into a career that would allow her to work with families and communities in a different way. Although not a stranger to humanitarian work, she decided to leave the corporate sector and follow her passion. She worked for several years with the Atlanta Housing Authority where she worked with special programs such as the family reunification and the disabled. Her service continued with The Housing Authority of DeKalb supporting families with housing stabilization. She served as executive assistant for the International Institute of Deaf Services, Inc. for more than 15 years and also worked with National Alliance of Black Interpreters, Inc. (NAOBI). She commutes to Birmingham weekly; where she has been a staff/contract interpreter for the deaf since 1997. Most recently, Tywonia was a Pathway Coach with The Center for Working Families where she worked with families to connect them with employment, job readiness supports, career coaching and other social supports.
Tywonia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Counseling from Samford University and brings a variety of career development training and housing experience to the families in The Villages of East Lake.