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Girls Inc. of Chattanooga on Thursday named Toccora Johnson as the interim chief executive officer of the organization.

Johnson takes the helm as Melissa Blevins departs to serve as president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Food Bank after three-and-a-half years.

"Toccora's experience within the organization, her leadership style and commitment to our girls and community are just a few of the many qualifications that make her the right choice as interim CEO," said Rachael Welch, Girls Inc.'s board chairwoman. "She brings energy and vitality to the long-term vision and promise of Girls Inc., which will help us achieve even higher levels of growth and impact."

Johnson, who holds a master's in public health from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is a graduate of the Chattanooga Leadership Academy and has been with Girls Inc. of Chattanooga for more than a decade, most recently as the senior director of program operations.

Girls Inc. cited Johnson's efforts in partnering with Hamilton County Schools and Chattanooga's Youth and Family Development Centers to offer the Girls Inc. Experience to more than 800 girls in 2019. The organization said that her innovation in developing the Bookworm Club, a literacy program for first through third grade girls, and her ability to pivot all in-person programs to a virtual platform in response to the coronavirus has been recognized in the community and by Girls Inc. nationally.

Welch thanked Blevins for her tenure, saying her passion and dedication to the Girls Inc. mission, coupled with a comprehensive and ambitious strategic plan have placed the organization in a strong position allowing for a smooth transition.

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