by Dave Cohen (B.A. ’94)
Former basketball star Odie Donald (B.A. ’03, EMBA ’12) helps others gain skills for a strong workforce.In the summer of 2000, Odie Donald transferred back home to Atlanta from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga to be closer to his mother, Claire (B.S. ’90), who was ill. The former top 50 high school recruit in basketball also hoped to become a contributor to then head coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell’s squad.
But Donald got a bad break, literally. The 6-foot-9 power forward broke his wrist and never played in a game for the Panthers.
“I still have those metal screws,” he said.
Despite that injury, Donald received offers to play professionally in Mexico, Jordan and China. During the summers, with his mother fully recovered, Donald would come home to chip away at his degree.
After an internship with Joint Action and Community Service, a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth find productive jobs, Donald decided to shelve his hoop dreams and begin what is now a 13-year career in workforce and economic development. Along the way, Donald came back to Georgia State’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business to earn his Executive MBA.
As the workforce innovation and opportunity act services director for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Donald was recognized as one of Georgia Trend‘s 40 under 40.
In January, Donald headed to Washington, D.C., to become executive director for the Workforce Investment Council there.
“There’s a lot of responsibility,” he said of his work, “but you’re also able to see how lives are changed and having some influence on that is something I am really proud of.”