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21st Century Leaders Announces Winners of 2023 Georgia Youth Leadership Awards

Top 21 High School Students of 21st Century Leaders Selected for Outstanding Leadership

21st Century Leaders, a Georgia-based non-profit youth leadership and talent development program for high school students from diverse backgrounds across the state, announces the top 21 youth leaders selected for its annual signature event, Georgia Youth Leadership Awards, presented by Warner Bros. Discovery, to be held on Saturday, March 25, 20232 at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, Ga.

21st Century Leaders (21CL), in partnership with the event’s corporate sponsors and partners, brings together business and civic leaders to raise support for 21st Century Leaders’ year-round leadership programs while also recognizing 21 of their outstanding high school students throughout Georgia who have made a significant impact on their schools, communities and beyond.

21CL serves over 1,600 students annually and this year’s 21 awardees – all in high school and all members of 21st Century Leaders – include non-profit founders, entrepreneurs, content creators, advocates, and volunteers who truly represent the diversity of Georgia with students from DeKalb to Emanuel to Columbia counties. The nominated students exhibit 21CL’s leadership qualities of being service-oriented, forward thinking, resourceful, passionate and of leveraging diversity. The 21 awardees were carefully chosen by a 16-member selection committee of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 members, 21CL Board of Directors, 21CL corporate volunteers and community leaders, and 21CL alumni and student peers. The full selection committee is listed below and on 21CL’s website.

21st Century Leaders is proud to announce the following 21 outstanding youth leaders for the 2023 Georgia Youth Leadership Awards:

  1. Pranita Akella, Lakeside High School (Evans, GA)
  2. Raveena Alli, Atlanta Girls’ School
  3. Sterling Cho, The Walker School
  4. Yireh Fonesca-Gopar, Forest Park High School
  5. Julius Hunnter Goins, Druid Hills High School
  6. Shreyas Gupta, Wheeler High School
  7. Benjamin Harper, Charles R. Drew Charter School
  8. Lilian Huynh, Jonesboro High School
  9. Akhil Kalva, Chattahoochee High School
  10. Payton Key, Cambridge High School
  11. Annie Lin, North Atlanta High School
  12. Tanvi Mehta, Lambert High School
  13. Ify Obianwu, Pebblebrook High School
  14. Eva Rahman, Wesleyan School
  15. Reece Robinson, Westlake High School
  16. Salter Sliger, Midtown High School
  17. Zoie Stevenson, North Atlanta High School
  18. Troy Steward, East Coweta High School
  19. Gabrielle Walthour, DeKalb Early College Academy
  20. Quintus Williams, Swainsboro High School
  21. Samuel Woldegiorgis, DeKalb Early College Academy

Through corporate sponsors’ support, each youth leader will be presented with a $500 grant, with one student awarded the Warner Bros. Discovery Student Leadership Award – the event’s top award which includes a $1,000 grant from the presenting sponsor, Warner Bros. Discovery. Students are also paired with coaches who mentor the students throughout the event season. Our Georgia Youth Leadership Award Coaches are recognized and accomplished community leaders and/or members of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 Under 40 alumni, maintaining a partnership established with the group in 2008 when 21st Century Leaders first launched this event. The student winners and coaches met at a private Meet + Greet luncheon on Saturday, February 11, 2023 at Emory’s Goizueta Business School, a sponsor and supporter.

This year’s event is being led by Co-Chairs and 21CL Board of Directors members Okema Jackson, previously of Warner Bros. Discovery, and Mari Sifo of Host Hotels and Resorts. For more information about the Georgia Youth Leadership Awards or to purchase a ticket to the event, please visit All proceeds from the event will support 21CL’s ongoing efforts to provide youth leadership and talent development programs for high school students across Georgia at little to no cost to students.

Georgia Youth Leadership Awards Coaches: 

The Georgia Youth Leadership Award coaches for the 2023 student winners are Maranie Brown, BlackRock; Greg Clay, Partnership for Southern Equity, 21CL Alumnus*; Whitney Deal Marshall, Whitney Marshall Coaching*; Chandra Farley, City of Atlanta, Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and Resilience; David Felfoldi, SHERPA Global*; Marty Fleischmann, All Electric Racing Organization (AERO), 21CL Board of Directors*; Matt Johnson, KPMG, 21CL Advisory Council*; Dr. Jyoti Sharma, Piedmont, 21CL Alumna; Dr. Alicia Shelly, Wellstar; Mari Sifo, Host Hotels and Resorts, 21CL Board of Directors; Tamika Stokes Goins, CareHalo*; Antrell Tyson, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services*; Ryan Woods, Beck Architecture*; DeAndre Wynn, T.A.N. Tech Solutions; Anqi Zou, Truist

*Coaches who also served on the Selection Committee

Georgia Youth Leadership Awards Selection Committee
All nominations were reviewed by our 16-member GYLA Selection Committee, comprised of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 under 40 members, 21CL Board of Directors, 21CL corporate volunteers, and 21CL alumni and student peers. Committee members included the coaches indicated above, along with LaSandra Boykin, Wellstar; Jeanette McWilliams, IdeasUnited; Trenton Spindler, GreenPrint, A PDI Company; Chi Nguyen, retired, 21CL Board of Directors; Chris Reynolds, RiskBridge Advisors, 21CL Board of Directors; Ila Prabhuram and J’Avani Stinson, 21CL members and 2022 GYLA Student Recipients.

About 21st Century Leaders
Since 1989, 21st Century Leaders has served more than 16,000 diverse high school students from over 250 Georgia high schools. 21st Century Leaders’ mission is to connect, transform, and inspire high school students from diverse backgrounds across the state of Georgia to leverage diversity, explore career opportunities, and become leaders in their school, community, and ultimately the workforce. 

21st Century Leaders is currently accepting student applications (until March 1st and March 15th) into their leadership and development program and for their summer leadership institutes for the 2023 summer. The summer leadership institutes are residential one-week programs hosted on a college campus with our corporate partners and business professionals. 21CL accepts rising sophomores, juniors and seniors. For more information about 21st Century Leaders, visit

21st Century Leaders

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