Founder & Executive Director
LaTonya Gates has earned her metaphorical PhD in service to Atlanta in opening PAWKids, an enrichment program for children on Atlanta’s Westside. By age forty, LaTonya had already invested decades in strengthening Atlanta, but her life could have easily gone in another direction.
LaTonya was born in a state prison to a heroin-addicted mother. Her grandmother and aunt raised her, along with several other children, and LaTonya found herself as a child understandably struggling with learning, social, and emotional problems. AFter having a son her senior year of high school, she resolved to raise her son and change her family’s pattern.
So, how did a woman with such a difficult start in life become a mentor and leader? She credits her life accomplishments to God, the prayers of her grandmother, determined work, and the support of strong women and men, such as David Lewis, Chuck and JoElyn Johnston and Derrick Lockwood, from Atlanta Youth Academy.