Rickey Bevington is one of 11 prestigious young leaders selected from the U.S.. Over two years they will trade insights with 10 counterparts from France before becoming alumni of a program in which some 500 world leaders, politicians and key cultural figures have participated over nearly 40 years.

Atlanta journalist Rickey Bevington, who anchors NPR’s All Things Considered on Georgia Public Broadcasting, has been named a French-American Foundation young leader for 2020. 

Ms. Bevington joins this year’s cohort of 11 on the American side, along with and a network of more than 500 alumni since 1981, including influential businesspeople, educators, cultural figures, artists, athletes and political leaders like former U.S. President Bill Clinton and current French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Eligible between the ages of 30 and 40, young leaders are active in the program for two years; it alternates annually between France and the United States with leaders from both sides getting together for five days each year to share thoughts on various pressing issues. 

That sense of open (and international) dialogue has driven Ms. Bevington’s journalistic work and is sorely needed in the world today, she told Global Atlanta.

“I fear we are a world that is more likely to fracture in the coming years than come together. The French-American Foundation is dedicated to jointly preserving the shared values of France and the United States. As a journalist broadcasting across the largest state east of the Mississippi River, I hope to tell more stories about local, national and global bridge-building.”

Ms. Bevington’s connections to France are deep and poignant: in college, she studied French literature and lived for a year in Strasbourg studying at the Université Marc Bloch.

The lifelong interest was spurred in part by a tragedy that in some ways defined her life but whose details became clearer only as she got older. Ms. Bevington’s grandmother and great-grandmother were killed in the 1962 plane crash at Orly Airport in Paris that claimed the lives of more than 100 Atlanta arts patrons. 

The Woodruff Arts Center emerged in part to honor to those who lost their lives; the French government gifted the Rodin sculpture “The Shade” in front of the High Museum of Art as a memorial in 1968. The accident’s history was chronicled in the “The Day Atlanta Stood Still”, a documentary aired nearly 50 years after the event on the public broadcasting station Ms. Bevington now works for. 

A sought-after emcee around Atlanta, Ms. Bevington has stayed active in the French-American business and cultural community, lending her voice and presence to events like last year’s French-American Chamber Crystal Peach awards and panel discussions at the Alliance Francaise d’Atlanta and many other events.

Despite her local focus in Georgia and history with France, Ms. Bevington’s boasts a broad understanding of transatlantic ties, in part thanks to her appointment as a German Marshall Fund of the United States fellow in 2014, where she studied public policy and transatlantic relations on a 24-day tour of Belgium, Sweden, Montenegro, Poland and Germany.

She has also received grants to study media freedoms in Hungary and Serbia (which she wrote about on Global Atlanta), as well as propaganda and civic engagement in Ukraine during the nation’s presidential election in 2019. 

Ms. Bevington’s TEDx talk on the future of news media encourages listeners and viewers to help combat fake news and fix the contract between media and the public. 

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s French-American Foundation program will be held virtually for two days in October, with current plans calling for the 2021 event to be held France to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the program, according to Ms.  Bevington.

Other Atlanta-area young leader alumni include Georgia State Representative Scott Holcomb (D-81) and Citigroup Managing Director John Tien.

Read Ms. Bevington’s full bio here.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...