Partnering with Leaders in Education


We partner with local leaders to understand local solutions

We follow good leaders, working with underserved populations using asset-based approaches.


Co-founder & President


Katy Barksdale is the co-founder and President of The Rockdale Foundation, a private family foundation with a grant making emphasis in education, ethical leadership, and community. In addition to her leadership on the foundation, Ms. Barksdale serves on the Boards of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, the John H. and Wilhelmina D. Harland Charitable Foundation, Restless Development USA, and Medshare International. She is a Steering Committee member of the International Education Funders Group and a member of the Atlanta Rotary Club.

Ms. Barksdale previously practiced law, worked at CNN, The Southern Company, and was Deputy Press Secretary to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and Press Assistant to Sen. Herman E. Talmadge of Georgia. Ms. Barksdale completed two terms on the Atlanta Board of Education and served as Chair. She also served as Chair of Teach For America Atlanta, the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Atlanta, and Perimeter College Foundation. She was awarded the Silver Medallion Award of Boys and Girls Clubs of America, was named a Hometown Hero of Atlanta and a YWCA Woman of Achievement. She received her J.D. degree from Emory University School of Law, attended Hollins College, and earned her B.A. degree from the University of Georgia.

Executive Director


Jody Stephenson is Executive Director of The Rockdale Foundation. In addition to her role with the foundation, Ms. Stephenson is the Founder of SitterTree and previously launched The Dress Project, and Go Shop!. She currently serves on the Board of Soaring Heights Communities and is a Steering Committee member of the International Education Funders Group. Ms. Stephenson is a graduate of Oglethorpe University.


Our Board

Katy Barksdale
Joanna Adams
Winsome Hawkins David Weitnauer
Genia Cayce


Our History

The Rockdale Foundation is a private, family foundation established by Bob Pattillo and Katy Barksdale in 1994. The Pattillo and Barksdale families have deep roots in the community and commerce of Rockdale County (Georgia) and it was in recognition of this heritage that the Foundation was named.

From 2000 to 2009 the Foundation focused on community development, education, and social enterprise.   Support was directed to local Atlanta community development projects such as the South Atlanta community, educational initiatives in partnership with Atlanta Public Schools, and microfinance in the Middle East and North Africa region.

In 2010, the Foundation began incorporating more international work with a strategic focus on education, leadership and children and youth.

After visiting several Sub Saharan African countries, Sierra Leone was chosen as a geographic focus. A country which had survived a brutal civil war and was poised for development, the Foundation began grantmaking in Sierra Leone in 2011.  The Foundation does make grants elsewhere in Sub Saharan Africa in order to gain knowledge for the work in Sierra Leone.