LaDonna Boyd is unprecedented in more ways than one. She’s the fifth-generation president and CEO of Christian literary giant R.H. Boyd Publishing Corp. Boyd is also the first woman to lead the company.
“My great-great-grandfather founded the company in 1896 because he wanted to give black people, especially those who were newly freed, the opportunity to have their own voice reflected in their literature,” Boyd says.
Her great-great-grandfather R.H. Boyd was born a slave in Mississippi. Once freed, he pastored several churches, attended college, helped organize the Texas Negro Baptist Convention and became a well-known leader in the Baptist denomination. He established publishing company R.H. Boyd and the Baptist Training Union Congress, now known as the National Baptist Congress. When Boyd died in 1922, his son assumed leadership of the company, and the mantle of leadership has been passed down continually. LaDonna was voted as CEO in 2017.
R.H. Boyd Corp. publishes curriculum, training guides and other materials to equip church leaders. The National Baptist Congress, an annual five-day Christian training gathering, is another arm of the company. The event has programming for all ages and includes inspirational sessions, a comedy show, an oratorical scholarship contest and ancillary group meetings. An average of 2,000 people convene for the congress each year.
“Senior pastors, church administrative leaders, choir members and instructors all come—it’s open to many groups,” Boyd says. “Our youth constituency is usually the largest.” The 2019 event was held at Sheraton Charlotte Hotel, and the 2020 event is scheduled for Dallas.
Loretta Champion Johnson, CMP, director of global accounts at HelmsBriscoe, serves as a consultant for the annual congress. Johnson says the caliber of speakers is what sets the event apart.
“LaDonna’s speakers are phenomenal, and her general sessions are always quite the production,” Johnson says. “It’s the best programming out of any of the large events I do.”
Speakers and worship leaders at previous National Baptist Congress gatherings include leaders from NAACP, gospel singer Tamela Mann and Grammy winner Erica Campbell.
In addition to her role at R.H. Boyd, Boyd serves on the board of director at Citizens Savings Bank and Trust, which her great-great-grandfather also founded, and she sits on the boards of multiple nonprofit organizations. She has been recognized as a standout millennial leader in several publications and is a former Miss Tennessee USA.
The Nashville native received a bachelor’s degree in economics and minor in French from Spelman College in Atlanta. She received her MBA from Tennessee State University, where she concentrated on finance. She is now a candidate for the doctor of education in organizational leadership at Pepperdine University.
Though Boyd is young, her list of credentials is lengthy. She credits her business education as essential to leading the company well. “We are a business, so business acumen is important,” she says. “You have to understand metrics and data to gauge where you want to go.”
A New Era
Boyd wants to go to new places. Under her leadership, R.H. Boyd is expanding its publication offerings beyond church resources and training materials. The company is now publishing Christian lifestyle content as well as resources for individuals wanting to learn more information about Christianity. “We also want to create channels for those who want to self-publish,” she says.