Atlanta Technical College: Leadership Making History in the Now

March 22, 2021

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is important to acknowledge and appreciate the amazing women who have blazed the trails that so many of us are now traveling.  At Atlanta Technical College, one such trailblazer was Dr. Brenda Watts Jones, the first African American woman president of a technical college in Georgia.  Dr. Jones represented and accomplished many firsts during her tenure as President, including establishing the first BMW technician training program at a technical college – the first in the United States!

Dr. Jones was a passionate and fierce leader who cared about providing opportunities for the students who matriculated through Atlanta Technical College.  She engaged in legislative battles to secure needed resources and led the college’s first fundraising campaigns to ensure that students would be able to complete their programs and secure their career trajectory.

Now, as the sixth president of Atlanta Technical College and only the third African American woman president in the Technical College System of Georgia, I am honored to walk in Dr. Jones’s legacy.  I would love to report that the battles are easier or that the college’s impact and value to the community are properly supported with resources and investment.  While I can’t report that as the case, I can say that our passion and commitment to our students are as strong as ever.  Supported by an amazing team comprised of several women in leadership positions, I am undaunted in my efforts to continue to fight for and elevate the college and the positive economic and community impact we provide.

Serving as vice presidents of academics, operations and facilities, and economic development, Ms. Caroline Angelo, Ms. Gail Edwards, and Ms. Yulonda Beauford represent a snapshot of the amazing women leaders at Atlanta Technical College who are making history in the now!

As a former instructor of the year at a sister college, Ms. Angelo is now our executive vice president of academic and student affairs.  She is well-respected among her peers and is often called upon to help develop and implement new processes or procedures.  Ms. Angelo has advanced from being a favorite teacher to a reliable mentor, as former students remain in touch since becoming professionals in their careers.  Some have even followed in her footsteps to become college professors.  With more than 18 years in a non-traditional field, Ms. Gail Edwards transitioned from a construction management practitioner to educator.  She led the effort to bring the Building Operator Certification (BOC) National Program to Georgia and was a part of the team that established the first Mercedes Benz training program at a two-year college.  Ms. Yulonda Beauford leads our economic development division, and, in 2019, the team earned $1M in revenue, for the first time in the division’s history.  Under her leadership, the division is partnering with our health sciences division to launch several innovative training partnerships, including a patient care technician apprenticeship program with Grady Hospital.  In a previous position, Ms. Beauford was the first African American Chamber president to chair the Georgia statewide Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

These three women are just a small sampling of the amazing team leading Atlanta Technical College and making history in the now, as we transform lives through the power of technical education.

Marian Anderson was an opera singer and the first African American to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in a leading role.  She was quoted as saying, “Leadership should be born out of the understanding of the needs of those who would be affected by it.”  Since 64 percent of our students are women, it is very significant that we highlight and celebrate our women leaders, as their accomplishments serve as motivating examples to our students.  Just as Dr. Jones blazed the trail for us, we now have the responsibility to pave the way for our students and colleagues to realize their full potential.

 

Dr. Victoria Seals, President

Atlanta Technical College