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Honoree Headshot

Keith T Parker

President & Chief Executive Officer
Goodwill of North Georgia

Location: Decatur, Georgia
Founded: 1925
Industry: Nonprofit, Workforce Development

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As president and CEO of Goodwill of North Georgia, Keith T. Parker gets to help change lives for the better on a daily basis.

“Our mission is to put people to work,” said Parker. And that’s just what his team does. Out of 155 Goodwill regions in the country, Goodwill of North Georgia led the nation in helping job seekers secure employment in 2020, by directly connecting more than 27,000 people with paying positions.

“We meet jobseekers where they are and help them find a job using the skills they walk in the door with,” Parker said. “Then, once they have a steady income, we enroll them in our training programs so they can learn skills that help them be competitive in the marketplace.”

The process is working. For the third year in a row, Goodwill of North Georgia has been recognized for putting more Georgians to work than any other nonprofit in the state.

The nonprofit prides itself on finding job opportunities, even for those from nontraditional backgrounds, including applicants who have experienced homelessness or have gaps in work history or a criminal record. The nonprofit also connects applicants with hands-on training for indemand fields, including construction, hospitality, logistics, retail, maintenance and welding.

Under Parker’s leadership, Goodwill of North Georgia has been expanding its retail and workforce training footprint, at a time when other retailers and nonprofits have been shrinking their reach and services. Since Parker joined Goodwill of North Georgia in 2017, it has opened two new stores and dramatically increased its E-commerce businesses.

Parker believes in communicating openly with his executive team and all of his employees. He launched a monthly newsletter, “The Parker Report,” to share agency-wide news and outreach initiatives. He holds routine town hall meetings for his entire staff, offering an open forum in which team members can share their questions and concerns. The meetings, Parker said, have been instrumental in boosting employee engagement and overall job satisfaction at the agency.

“The key to successful leadership is being an extraordinary listener and having humility,” he said. “There are many people with great educations who have enormous pedigrees, but what tends to separate the leaders who do well from the leaders who do exceptionally well, is that added layer of listening and humility.”

Before joining Goodwill of North Georgia, Parker worked for more than a decade as a public transit executive at locations across the country, including a four-year term as general manager and CEO of MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority).

Parker serves on the boards of directors for the Eno Center for Transportation, a world-renowned transportation think tank; his alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU); and VCU Health Systems. He is an appointee of the Department of Homeland Security’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council and has been named one of the city’s 500 Most Powerful Leaders multiple times by Atlanta magazine. He frequently mentors students at VCU and believes strongly in supporting the next generation of leaders.

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