Carol Waddy believes it’s a privilege to serve the community. “I find satisfaction in knowing that the smallest act of service is potentially changing the trajectory of someone’s life,” she says. Her hands-on approach as director of corporate social responsibility for Chick-fil-A has recently been focused on the revitalization of Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood, running initiatives and guiding long-term investments to boost underserved areas.
Waddy’s work often involves young people. One of her most rewarding projects was partnering with Hollis Innovation Academy, which is part of Atlanta Public Schools, to create wellness and art programs for students. “It’s gratifying to know that the students and teachers will benefit for years to come,” says Waddy, 53. She also facilitated a partnership with Breakthrough Atlanta and the Chick-fil-A Foundation to provide three years of rigorous academic training for 30 Westside students, with the goal of preparing them for college. “Youth are the most important thing that we have,” she says.
Waddy’s passion for philanthropy started early. Her parents, both educators, taught her to invest in others. As a graduate student at Clark Atlanta University in the 1990s, she started volunteering in the Westside—the same area she works in now. Waddy also serves on the board of directors for a number of area organizations, including Aerotropolis Atlanta, Breakthrough Atlanta, Families First, C5 Georgia Youth Foundation, TechBridge, and Westside Atlanta Charter School. Clearly, her Atlanta roots run deep. “I see the community through a very different lens—not through the eyes of a visitor or a well-meaning spectator, but as the community where I’ve shopped, dined, and attended church,” says Waddy. “That perspective changes how you authentically connect with residents.”