The Urban League of Greater Chattanooga welcomes new cohort of Inclusion By Design Executive Leadership Development Program participants


    CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – For the fifth consecutive year, the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga has selected a diverse group of leaders to participate in its seven-month Inclusion By Design Executive Leadership Development Program. As a solution to narrowing the diversity leadership gaps in the Chattanooga region, this program was launched by the Urban League to create a pipeline of highly skilled women and leaders of color prepared to function successfully in an executive assignment.

    “This initiative is an example of what equity and inclusion look like in practice, especially when so many organizations are looking for ways to address diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace,” said Candy Johnson, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. “An organization with diverse leaders will be equipped to address issues related to inclusion, and research continues to demonstrate the competitive advantage, in terms of tangible growth and outreach, that a team with a variety of perspectives can have.” The Inclusion By Design Executive Leadership Program is welcoming 10 new Fellows in 2021, including:

    “This is a very promising group that represents a variety of important industries in the area,” said BettyeLynn Smith, project manager and consultant. “Through the knowledge and skills-based training components of this program, and the accompanying opportunities to engage with executive mentors, I am confident they will continue to find success while also making an impact on their organizations.”

    The Inclusion By Design Executive Leadership Program utilizes a market-based training approach that relies on the experience of national and regional experts. Additionally, the program is specifically oriented toward community objectives, needs and a commitment to inclusion and representation. To date, nearly 40 program alumni have joined this pipeline of competitive, highly skilled people of color and women prepared to function successfully in an executive role. These alumni not only add value to their organizations, but also act as leaders who serve the community.

    A variety of companies and organizations have supported this program since its inception in 2017. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is the program’s current premier sponsor, EPB and the Benwood Foundation are gold sponsors and Unum and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga serve as supporting sponsors. The Urban League is thankful to these and other organizations for their dedication to business growth and inclusive workplaces in Chattanooga.

    “We look forward to working with our new Fellows, their respective employers and our sponsors,” said Johnson. “This program stresses the importance of networking, which not only strengthens professional connections but also creates opportunities for leaders to help solve community problems. We are honored that so many leaders in Chattanooga are joining us to strengthen this initiative and our community.”

    Through the newly established Center for Equity and Inclusive Leadership, the Urban League looks forward to continually addressing issues of racial and economic disparity and promoting empathy and understanding of racial equity in the community. To learn more about the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, please visit, call 423-756-1762 or email