Rhonda Alexander, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Rhonda Alexander founded New Opportunities for Women, Inc. (NOW) in Baltimore, Maryland on February 26, 2016. Her aunt, lived to be 102 years old, not only raised her, but was her inspiration for establishing our organization. Back in the 1930s, Rhonda's aunt, Lucille Brooks was told by her husband that she was not going to college. Ms. Brooks defied all odds by walking the distance from her home business on Central Avenue to pursue her studies at Morgan State College (University). After graduating she became a teacher at Dunbar High School and sent her daughter to Howard University. While her daughter was away at school, she purchased her own vehicle, and secretly furnished her own home. The day following her daughter's graduation, she moved and sought a divorce. Rhonda’s aunt was a very inspiring woman, including, who overcame many obstacles during hard times for African Americans, before later becoming an administrator in Baltimore City Schools. She never forgot the struggle of African Americans or women. At her 100th birthday celebration, over 400 people attended. Prior to the celebration, of her 100th birthday, a reporter from the Baltimore Sun wanted to know if she still played the piano. She responded, "Who? Me?", and rose out of her chair and began playing the "Negro National Anthem." Her decision to play the "Negro National Anthem" for the reporter is further testament to her determination, and commitment to the empowerment of women and African Americans.
We are proud that our comprehensive wellness programs are led by women. As an inspiring woman herself, Rhonda brings years of experience from life, relationships, as an educator, youth advocate, and young adult social preparedness and career readiness trainer. Prior to founding our organization, Rhonda was the program director of the Youth Opportunity Academy in Baltimore City. She led the design and development of the school program in 2006 as envisioned through the partnership of Baltimore City Schools and the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. During her 9-year tenure, Rhonda collaborated with partners to expand services by opening a culinary arts program and developing partnerships with local community colleges for career readiness as well as academic and social change.
Rhonda also encouraged continuous professional growth to maintain highly-qualified staff. She strongly believes success can only be achieved in a collaborative environment. Hearing the news of her retirement, a staff member said, “The only reason I came here was because Ms. Alexander gave me a voice.” Because of the successes she achieved with young adults ages 16 to 21, she was invited to participate in conversations held at the White House, hosted by Secretary of Education Arnie Duncan and Valerie Jarrett, Advisor to President Obama to discuss best practices for helping youth and young adults across the country.
Before leading the Youth Opportunity Academy, she served the Baltimore City Schools as an assistant principal at Edmondson-Westside High School and Northwestern High School. Rhonda also worked at some of the city's most challenging schools including; Calverton Middle, William H. Lemmel Middle, Diggs-Johnson Middle, and Harbor City High Schools.
She attended Frostburg State University, Coppin State University and holds a Master of Administrative Science degree from The Johns Hopkins University, with emphasis in the Quantitative Option and Management Information Systems. Rhonda also completed training from The Steve Harvey Radical Success Institute. Her education and experiences with engaging internal and external stakeholders in innovative approaches are the driving force behind the founding of our organization, and our responsibility to address health disparities and social needs in Baltimore City and throughout the State of Maryland.