Birmingham, Alabama  – August 6, 2021 – YWCA Central Alabama CEO Dr. LaRhonda Magras is among 10 Birmingham-metro area leaders who participated in the 2021 Harvard University Young American Leaders Program (YALP). The local leaders joined others in learning more about successful public-private partnership collaborations.

This is the third year Birmingham-area leaders have participated, and the first year that the annual program was conducted virtually after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The other Birmingham-area selectees who completed the program this summer are:

Staci Brown Brooks, director of marketing communication, Alabama Power Company; Anil Chadha, executive vice president, Regions Bank; Jay Eichelberger, general manager, Southern Operations Altec Inc.; Miller Girvin, executive vice president, innovation and entrepreneurship, Economic Development Partnership of Alabama; Rachel Harmon, executive director, Birmingham Promise; Dr. Mark W. C. Martin, CEO, Build Urban Prosperity; Mashonda Taylor, executive eirector, Woodlawn United; Ford Wiles, independent creative and strategic partner; and Emily Wykle, director, external affairs, University of Alabama at Birmingham

“The Young American Leaders Program grows out of a deep concern and a great hope uncovered by our research on U.S. competitiveness,” said Jan Rivkin, professor and co-chair of Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project. “We’ve found that the most promising innovations for competitiveness are local, they span sectors, and they require long-term commitment. The young leaders nominated from Birmingham over the last few years have a remarkable track record of coming together across sectors to transform their hometown. This year’s Birmingham cohort had so much to share with — and to learn from — other regions.”

In total, there were 130 YALP participants. They represented 13 metro areas: Birmingham, Boston, Chattanooga, Columbus, Detroit, Miami, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose.

The focus of their workshops and classes with Harvard Business School professors was public-private collaboration to improve workforce and economic development, and quality of life for all in their cities.

Alabama Power Co., Altec Inc., Regions Financial and the University of Alabama at Birmingham are among the local champions of the national program.

“We are so grateful to our champions in Birmingham who made it possible for our program to succeed this year. They stepped up in magnificent, generous ways — creating a safe place for the participants to gather in-person locally, helping with technology setups, and working with us to ensure a fantastic experience,” Rivkin said.

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