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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

DePriest Waddy

Chief Executive Officer

Families First

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Founded: 1890

Industry: Non Profit

Since assuming the role of CEO of Families First in 2019, DePriest Waddy has been strategic in his outreach, fundraising strategies and creating new and enhancing current partnerships to bolster the nonprofit’s funding. He credits the success of the organization to the power of teamwork.

“In my career, I have seen firsthand the power teamwork and the important role leaders play in creating a culture focused on collaboration,” said Waddy. “By focusing on teamwork, we can find better solutions to the problems facing our clients, innovate faster, learn more mistakes more quickly and attain higher productivity.”

Waddy also said working as a team helps to build empathy and understanding of each other on a personal level. “Often, these teams become a work family that is there to support, encourage and challenge each other both personally and professionally,” he said. “If your team feels like they matter as a person, not just an employee, they will be happy about coming to work and creating innovative and quality work.”

For more than 131 years, Families First has been addressing the needs of families and children throughout the state of Georgia. The organization serves more than 16,000 families each year across the continuum of care including adoption, foster care, parenting, mental and behavioral health, supportive housing and healthy starts.

A clear understanding and empathy are vital to a successful not-for-profit organization, said Waddy. “During COVID-19, we have seen a dramatic increase in mental health issues including depression, job-related stress, domestic violence and substance abuse, thus reducing a person’s ability to perform successfully at work and at home,” he said. “This compromises the welfare of the household, especially the welfare of children, their education, access to constructive networks and community programs leading to successful wellbeing.”

Under the leadership of Waddy, Families First invested $100,000 to expand in-person and virtual counseling services to families disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Through the organizations work, more than 6,000 parents and their children will receive mental health and coaching services over the next three years with the goal of increasing their access to livable-wage jobs and higher education, said Waddy.

“I will continue to bring awareness, support and connections together to help us end the stigma around mental health and ensure all our neighbors have access to mental health services,” he said.

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Did you know?

DePriest is a work out fanatic who enjoys a daily swim, running, and an early morning spin class.


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