Skip to content

Vrondelia (Ronni) Chandler




EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CEO | PROJECT GRAD KNOXVILLE

Education is something near and dear to Ronni Chandler’s heart. Having worked at Pellissippi State Community College in varying roles for 23 years, Chandler knows a thing or two about the role education plays in the lives of children. So when the opportunity to join the start-up Project GRAD Knoxville came about, Chandler jumped at the chance. And 17 years later, Project GRAD is still going strong, and Chandler has become the organization’s Executive Director/CEO. Project GRAD is a program that works with students from kindergarten through college and beyond. The organization helps more than 7,000 students annually to pursue excellence in education to secure a better foundation for their futures. Chandler believes strongly in this mission and lives everyday with that goal in mind.

“I believe in young people (especially those in the inner city) and in supporting and connecting with emerging leaders,” Chandler stated. “I am passionate about my own life purpose and blessed to know it. When somebody opens a door for you, take somebody through it with you.”
Chandler has seen a rise in opportunities for girls and women throughout her career. “As more opportunities happen, the narrative changes about what is possible,” she explained. “We need to accelerate the pace of inclusion. Talented women bring solutions.”

A Knoxville native and alumnus of Austin-East High School, Chandler values the beauty of the area that she has called home her entire life. “I love being minutes from rivers and mountains, and getting to the ocean is easy as well,” she said. “In addition to the splendor of nature, I also like supporting the local businesses in town. I’m a frequent visitor to Jackie’s Dream restaurant on the east side of town and the food bar at Three Rivers Market on the north end. Knoxville does not lack for much of anything.”

Chandler believes there are two things that divulge what matters most to a person. “Your checking account and your calendar reveal your priorities,” she stated. “Pay attention to what matters most, and you will have memories, not regrets. It is important to recognize how you spend both your time and energy since both are precious and limited. I am very grateful to have lived a significant life that has made a difference. My goal is to continue to make a difference in the lives of others and to inspire those around me.”

More Stories

  • Editor's Letter

    As we’ve gotten older, Christmases at our home have gotten smaller--and quieter.

    I don’t dwell on the fact that Bill and I have no grandchildren. We’re definitely “of age,” and so are all of our offspring, but it just has not happened. Recently a guest at a dinner party asked me how many grandchildren we have, and I answered, “Well, none, actually--and I’m not sure we ever will.” And that’s OK.

    Read More
  • Carmichael Earns Prestigious Alumni Award

    Moxley Carmichael President Alan Carmichael has received the University of Tennessee College of Communication and Information’s most prestigious alumni award for notable contributions in the field of communication and information. Read More
  • Ole Smoky Distillery Donates Funds

    Friends of the Smokies, an official nonprofit partner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, received a $50,000 donation from Ole Smoky Distillery from the sale of their signature Friends Blackberry Moonshine. Read More
  • First Horizon Foundation Recognized

    First Horizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of First Horizon, was recognized recently by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Smoky Mountain Chapter with its Outstanding Foundation award.  Read More