Our Founders

CJ Stewart

C.J. Stewart is an Atlanta native, a former Chicago Cubs outfielder, and an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author (Living To L.E.A.D.: A Story of Passion, Purpose, and Grit). Recognized as one of the top baseball player development professionals in the country, he founded and leads Diamond Directors, a firm renowned for its success in developing elite baseball talent. With over 25 years of experience, Stewart has worked with an impressive roster of clients, including Jason Heyward (Los Angeles Dodgers), Dexter Fowler (Chicago Cubs, World Series Champion), Andruw Jones (former Atlanta Brave), Peter Alonso (NY Mets), Kyle Lewis (Arizona Diamondbacks), and Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates).

Growing up in Hollywood Brooks, one of Atlanta’s most dangerous apartment complexes, Stewart’s journey embodies the adage: ‘Where you start doesn’t determine where you finish’. Despite daunting odds, he used baseball to rise above adversity, nurtured by the support of his community. His passion for the game led him from John A. White Park to being drafted by the Chicago Cubs in both 1994 and 1996.

Together with his wife, Kelli, Stewart extends his impact through their non-profit, L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct), which empowers at-risk youth in Atlanta to transform their communities and lead globally. The program boasts impressive outcomes: 100% high school graduation rate, 93% college enrollment, 90% receiving college scholarships, and 14% entering the military or workforce. Stewart’s commitment to giving back is his way of thanking those who guided him and creating similar opportunities for today’s Atlanta youth.

A member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta West End since June 25, 2009, Stewart is also a Leadership Atlanta alum, class of 2015, and alongside Kelli, a Leadership Georgia alum, class of 2023.

Kelli Stewart

Kelli Stewart was born in Atlanta and raised most of her life in Oglethorpe County, a rural community just outside of Athens, Georgia. Although both parents were not a consistent fixture in her life, Kelli’s Grandmother, Ms. Amy Lou Faust, provided a stable and nurturing home environment where she raised Kelli to have an old soul that has served her well in life.

Kelli is a graduate from Cedar Shoals High School in Athens, GA and credits her participation in ROTC as keeping her on the mostly straight and mostly narrow. Through the watchful care and guidance of her ROTC Instructor, Sgt. Fincher along with Ms. Sue Lee (English Teacher) and Shirley Daniel (Guidance Counselor) Kelli graduated from Cedar Shoals in 1996 and went on to study at Georgia State University.

 She completed her undergraduate studies at Kennesaw State University in 2011 where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the Coles College of Business with honors. In addition to her degree, Kelli holds a wealth of knowledge regarding sports-based youth development as a resource for racial, social and economic justice and the impact sports have on the social-emotional development of youth.

Today, Kelli, and her husband, C.J. Stewart, oversee two business ventures that they started together. Through Diamond Directors, they train and develop some of the country’s top amateur and professional baseball athletes; Jason Heyward (Los Angeles Dodgers), Dexter Fowler (Chicago Cubs, World Series Champion), Andruw Jones (former Atlanta Brave), Peter Alonso (NY Mets), Kyle Lewis (Arizona Diamondbacks), and Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) are a few notable professional clients. Through L.E.A.D., they train and develop some of Atlanta’s hidden treasures in Atlanta Public Schools. L.E.A.D. provides inner city boys with the same opportunities to excel in life through baseball as the Stewarts’ Diamond Directors clients with the focus being accessing higher education and community leadership. To date, L.E.A.D. Ambassadors have achieved a 100% high school graduation rate and a 91% college enrollment and scholarship rate (academic and athletic).

Kelli and CJ have two beautiful daughters, Mackenzi (Southern University) and Mackenna (The Lovett School).