The Atlanta Women’s Foundation engages and educates women as leaders through its Women on Board program. Created in 2000, the program was designed to increase the number of women on nonprofit boards in Metro Atlanta by providing effective board governance training to Atlanta women and connecting participants to nonprofit organizations. Since its inception, the program has trained over 1,700 women in board governance and leadership skills.
Danita Knight is a public relations and fundraising consultant. Prior to relocating to Atlanta nearly 11 years ago, Danita was vice president for public affairs and community relations at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Indianapolis, Indiana.
Prior to joining the NCAA, Danita worked for Anthem, Inc., a parent company for Blue Cross/Shield plans, as director of public relations (Indianapolis, Indiana). She has also served as director of communications for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce; deputy director for communications and public affairs for the Council of State Governments (Lexington, Kentucky); director of media and public relations for the United Way of Central Iowa (Des Moines, Iowa); assistant, speech writer, scheduler, and public relations director to Iowa’s first female Lieutenant Governor (Jo Ann Zimmerman); information specialist for the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women; and public relations manager for the Iowa Department of Elder Affairs. Danita started her career as a morning news anchor and reporter for KOMU-TV (Columbia, Missouri).
Danita is board chairperson of the Atlanta Women’s Foundation. She was chairperson of the 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 Atlanta Women’s Foundation “Numbers Too Big to Ignore” fundraising luncheons (note: the 2011 luncheon raised $1M – the highest amount raised for a luncheon in the organization’s history). Other activities include Elizabeth Baptist Church; Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority; the National Center for Civil and Human Rights; Speaker for “Great Black Speakers” (a national speakers’ bureau); Advisory Board Member for Lending Hearts, a non-profit in Pittsburgh focused on recreational activities for adolescents with Cancer; various political campaigns and committees; and basketball (Danita was part of the original group responsible for bringing the women’s professional basketball team — the WNBA Dream — to Atlanta; and is married to former Atlanta Hawks General Manager Billy Knight).
Danita is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism, where she majored in broadcast (television) journalism. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, she lives in Atlanta with her husband, Billy, and German Shepherd, Neko. Her oldest daughter, Erika, is a recent college graduate (Bennett College for Women; Greensboro, NC). Younger daughter, Olivia, attended another historically black college, Tennessee State, in Nashville.
Deborah Ryan is Interim Director with The Atlanta Womens Foundation, Georgia’s only public foundation focused solely on the challenges faced by women and girls. Prior to serving as Interim Director, Deborah was Vice President of Development and Communications where she supervised all aspects of fundraising and marketing for AWF, including major gifts, planned giving, annual campaigns, corporate partnerships, grant proposals, and external communications.
Deborah has more than twenty years of experience as a fundraising professional in the Atlanta market. She joined The Atlanta Women’s Foundation from her position as Director of Development at Oglethorpe University, where she managed planned giving, major gifts, the annual fund, prospect research and donor relations. Before Oglethorpe, she spent seven years with the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center as Senior Director of Development and Communication, increasing the organization’s budget and partnering with the Board of Directors and Executive Director to eliminate debt and secure cash operating reserves. Deborah has also held positions with the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA), The Cartoon Network, AID Atlanta, The Georgia Conservancy and The Atlanta History Center.
In 2006, Deborah received the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Up and Comer Award for 40 under 40. She served on the City of Atlanta’s Bureau of Cultural Affairs Art Funding Panel and also on the Fulton County Arts Council Art Funding Panel. A graduate of Auburn University with a Bachelor of Arts in History, she has been a member of the Junior League of Atlanta and currently volunteers with the Atlanta Community Food Bank and AID Atlanta. Deborah currently serves on the Foundation Center Atlanta Board and The Junior League of Atlanta Community Advisory Board.