From a jobless 18-year-old father to a thriving career.
“In 2010, I walked into the South DeKalb Goodwill Career Center as a jobless 18-year-old father,” shares Quandarious Brinkley. Those fateful steps began an 11-year journey with Goodwill. In what he describes as a truly amazing experience, thinking back to that day, he could never have imagined the impact Goodwill would have on his life.
Quandarious lived within walking distance of Goodwill’s South DeKalb Career Center and on his trips to the grocery store, noticed the steady stream of people flowing through the doors. Having never worked before and in need of a job, he decided to step in. Despite his lack of experience, Quandarious was hired by Goodwill as a part-time floor tech/custodian.
During his time as a custodian, Quandarious took advantage of the opportunity to network with program managers and directors. After a year and a half, and a progression from part-time to full-time, these trusted mentors encouraged him to apply for a job coach position because they saw Quandarious’ potential. Clearly, they were correct, because in October 2011, at age 20, Quandarious became the youngest job coach ever hired at Goodwill.
He is particularly grateful to Training Manager Thea Parlagreco, who was an invaluable resource in his growth and development as a job coach. At 21 years old, Quandarious became the youngest employment specialist in Goodwill history in March 2013. Quandarious also credits Thea with encouraging him to not lose sight of the college degree he started prior to the birth of his son.
Quandarious’ time in Career Services cultivated his passion for service to others, and it was that passion which fueled his interest in learning about Goodwill’s Donated Goods Retail (DGR) side of the business.
He wanted to better understand the DGR/CS relationship and how DGR contributes to the Goodwill of North Georgia mission. To do that, he needed to understand their internal processes and operations, so in January 2018, he applied for the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Coordinator role. As CQI Coordinator, he learned about DGR from the perspective of an internal auditor, and in this role, he developed a passion for compliance and law. During an agency restructuring in 2019, his position was moved to the Legal and Compliance team, where he was immediately offered the opportunity to become the Quality Auditor.
January 2018 brought other changes. Quandarious enrolled at Georgia State to complete his undergraduate degree. With tuition assistance provided by Goodwill, he graduated cum laude in 2020, earning a bachelor’s in sociology with a minor in public policy. He quickly matriculated at Georgia Tech, where he is pursuing a master’s in public policy.
Needing an internship for his master’s studies, Quandarious turned to another mentor, Goodwill’s General Counsel and Vice President of Legal Affairs and Compliance Bonnie Corales, who, with approval from President & CEO Keith Parker, helped him secure an internship with the Atlanta City Council. Quandarious is indebted to Bonnie for leveraging her influence to get him an interview with City Council President Felicia Moore who added him to her team immediately.
In mid-Spring 2021, Quandarious was contacted by a recruiter at Salesforce who was impressed by his LinkedIn profile and resume. Although he knew it would be difficult to leave his Goodwill family, Quandarious found this opportunity one he couldn’t pass up. He joined Salesforce in May 2021 where in his new role he supports and conducts risk-based audits of business operations.
With his graduate studies underway and on a great career path, Quandarious plans to continue growing in the world of compliance, risk management, and law. Ultimately, he’d like to become a chief compliance officer, and he intends to pursue his law degree at Georgia State.
Quandarious is remarkably humble about all that he has achieved and is quick to give credit to the many Goodwill colleagues who have helped him along the way.
While he asserts that he would not have made it without the support and encouragement he received, his Goodwill family celebrates his success, knowing that it was truly his motivation, determination, and perseverance that brought him to this moment.