Focus Groups

The Envision Athens process kicked off its engagement effort in January 2017 with five (5) Focus on the Future public workshops. Complimenting this effort, the Steering Committee convened a series of 22 focus group discussions. Groups were formed to reflect the diverse set of backgrounds and interests within the Athens-Clarke County community.

The discussions were held during the week of January 30, 2017 and were facilitated by planning consultants from planning NEXT. (Planning NEXT led the Envision Athens process and facilitated the Focus on the Future workshops.) Each meeting included a brief background of the Envision Athens process but focused primarily on a discussion of the group’s key opportunities and challenges, both as they existed at the time and in the future. The Steering Committee’s interest was to gather the intuitive, experiential perspectives from each of these groups to help build a comprehensive set of input.

A full list of the focus group topics and invitees is included below.

ACCUG Planning Commission (Future Land Use)

  • Alice Kinman: Chair
  • James Anderson: Vice Chair
  • Maxine Easom
  • David Finkel
  • Dave Hudgins
  • Hank Joiner
  • Jeffrey Ritchey
  • Lucy Rowland
  • James Scanlon
  • Jeff Scarbrough
  • Brad Griffin: ACCUG Planning Director

Activists (Neighborhoods/Civic Vitality)

  • Mokah Johnson: Athens Hip Hop Awards, Anti Discrimination Movement
  • Alvin Sheats: West Hancock Development Corporation, NAACP
  • Tim Denson: Athens For Everyone
  • Linda Lloyd: Economic Justice Coalition
  • Irami Osei Frimpong: Political activist
  • Mark McConnell: Environmental activist
  • Ricky Roberts, LGBTQ activist
  • Karen Solheim: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
  • Mansour Buffins: Student activist, UGA
  • Bettina Kaplan: Ulead Athens

African-American (Neighborhoods/Civic Vitality)

  • Kirreena Gallagher: Mother, Community activist
  • Ovita Thornton: Bethel Homes, Community activist
  • Dabriah Brown: Former ICC chair, Athens Housing Authority
  • Andiasean Johnson: Business owner, youth leader
  • Terris Thomas: Community leader, youth leader
  • Rick Dunn: Poll manager
  • Lawrence Harris: College and Career Academy
  • Grady Martin: East Athens Development Corporation
  • Tyron Harris: Owner, Studio 74 Barber Shop


  • Nat Kuykendall: Vice-Chair, Greenways Commission
  • Bruno Giri: Chair, Upper Oconee Watershed Network
  • Christina Hyilton: Outreach Coordinator, Athens Land Trust, Farmer
  • Carl Jordan: Former Athens-Clarke County Commissioner
  • Nancy Stangle: Founder, Athens Land Trust
  • Beth Gavrilles: Founder, Grow Green; and UGA School of Ecology
  • David Berle: UGA College of Agriculture; and Founder, Athens Community Garden Network
  • Mark Farmer: Professor of Bioscience, UGA
  • Fred Harrison: Farmer
  • Sarah Thurman: Athens Farmers Market

Alternate Transportation (Transportation/Development)

  • Tyler Dewey: Bike Athens
  • Tony Eubanks: Community Approach to Planning Prince Avenue (CAPPA)
  • Ken Sherman: Chair, Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Planning Committee; and Director, ATHSAV
  • Robert Holden: Associate VP for Auxiliary Services, UGA
  • Brian Molloy: The Hub Bicycle Shop
  • Chris Dowd: Representative, Athens for Everyone Transit Campaign
  • Savannah Hembry, Safe Routes to School Committee member
  • Butch McDuffie: Athens Transit
  • John Devine: FireFly Trail

Arts (Cultural Resources)

  • Rebecca Wood: Owner, R. Wood Studio
  • Desiree Sharp: Athens Area Arts Council
  • Michael Laochowski: UGA Museum of Art
  • Shayna Hobbs: Co-owner, Sons of Sawdust.
  • Marilyn Wolf Ragatz: Founding Chair, Cultural Affairs Commission
  • Paul Cramer: Classic Center
  • Jamie Calkin: Artist
  • Peter Dale: The National, Condor Chocolate
  • Alicia Nickles: Board Chair, Canopy Aerial Dance
  • Terry Powell, Athens Creative Theatre

Developers (Economic Development)

  • Jon Williams: Civil Engineer, Georgia Planning
  • Wes Rogers: The Mark Properties
  • Charlie Upchurch: Upchurch Realty
  • Carl Nichols, Nichols Land Investment
  • Chris Blackmon
  • Christy Terrell, Georgia Power
  • Jim Warnes, Timmons Warnes, LLP
  • Jennifer Zwirn, Athens First Bank, Commercial Lending
  • Bryan Austin: Austin Sumner Properties
  • Jamie Boswell: Commercial Realtor, Georgia Department of Transportation Vice Chairman, District 10


  • Suzanne Lester, MD: Piedmont Athens Regional Community Care Clinic; and AU/UGA Medical Partnership
  • Claude Burnett, MD: Northeast Health District
  • Matthew Mcrae: Dentist
  • Hancock: Athens Orthopedic Clinic
  • Cindy Carmean: Director of Medical Education (residency program), Piedmont Athens Regional
  • OJ Booker, Advantage Behavioral Health
  • Kevin Florence: Owner/pharmacist, Add Drug
  • Diane Dunston: Neighborhood Health Center
  • Harold Weber: Athens Neighborhood Center
  • Achilia Morrow: Associate Program Director (residency program), St. Mary’s

Hispanic (Neighborhoods/Civic Vitality

  • Noris Diaz: State Farm
  • Juana Gnecco: Potter
  • Pepe Casas: Director, Tonalli Dance Group
  • Noe Mendoza: Community advocate
  • Hugo and Evelyn Zaldaña: Pastors, Catedral de Fe
  • Adiel Santibañez: President, Students for Latino Empowerment group at UGA
  • Christie Navarro: Family specialist, Clarke County School District (CCSD)
  • Cecilia Santibanez: Translator, Piedmont Athens Regional Hospital
  • Bruno Rubio: Puerto Del Sol, Cali n Titos
  • Peggy McClure: Athens First Bank & Trust

Large Private Employers (Economic Development)

  • Todd Henry: Caterpillar, Great Promise Partnership (GPP)
  • Steve Hollis: Power Partners, GPP
  • Harris Lowery: RAI
  • Doug Brouillard: Eaton Supercharger
  • Emily Michelbach: Carrier Transicold, GPP
  • Ricky Walker: Pilgrim’s Pride
  • Justin Widener: Merial
  • David Dukes: The Benson Group
  • Steve Middlebrooks: Heyward Allen Toyota
  • Ashlea Harris: VoxPro

Faith-Based Community (Neighborhoods/Civic Vitality)

  • Pastor Abraham Mosley: Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church
  • Pastor Benjamin Lett: Hill Chapel Baptist Church
  • Matt Stevens: Director of Stewardship, Athens Church
  • Frank Granger: Minister of Christian Community, First Baptist Church
  • Betsy Butler: Ministry of Missions, First United Methodist Church
  • Joseph’s Catholic Church
  • Ed Bolen: Milledge Avenue Baptist Church
  • Rabbi Eric Linder: Congregation Children of Israel
  • Imam, Adel Amer: Al Huda Islamic Center
  • Rene Dubose: Metropolitan Community Church

K-12 Education

  • Angela Gay: Counselor, Cedar Shoals; and Leader, YWCO Girls’ Group
  • Mrs. Tranteegus (Mrs. T)
  • Cory Delamater: Parent
  • Tim Johnson: Communities in Schools
  • Bertis Downs: Public education advocate
  • Dawn Meyers: Clarke County School District
  • Shannon York: Parent
  • Demetria Fortson: Teacher, Winterville Elementary School
  • Paula Shilton: Clarke County Mentor Program
  • Ian Altman: Teacher, Clarke Central High School

Music (Cultural Resources)

  • George Fontaine, Jr.: Owner, Normaltown Records & New West Records
  • David Barbe: Director, UGA Music Business Certificate Program
  • Seth Hendershot: Owner, Hendershots Coffee & Bar
  • Bob Sleppy: Director, Nuci’s Space
  • Jill Helme: Executive Director, AthFest Educates
  • Eunice Kang: Musician, Teacher
  • William Montu Miller: Business owner, promoter
  • Velena Vego: 40 Watt Club
  • Timi Conley: Wild Rumpus, Fuzzy Sprouts, Abbey Road, Kite to the Moon
  • Dwayne Segar: Jazz musician, radio personality

Neighborhoods (Neighborhoods/Civic Vitality)

  • Kristen Morales: Buena Vista neighborhood
  • Amy Kissane: Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation
  • Jane Sullivan: St. Ives Neighborhood Association
  • Kent Middleton: Green Acres neighborhood
  • Frances Berry: Federation of Neighborhoods
  • Sheila Neely Norman: East Athens neighborhood
  • Aida Quinones: Pinewoods Library
  • Don Nelson: Five Points neighborhood
  • John Aitken: Deerfield Neighborhood Association

Non-Profit (Social Services)

  • Delene Porter: Athens Area Community Foundation
  • Joan Prittie: Director, Project Safe
  • Bonnie Miller: Georgia Legal Services
  • Life LaRoche: Director, Chess and Community
  • Mike Hackett: Boys and Girls Club, Athens representative
  • Nefertiti Robertson, Social Services Coordinator for Athens, Salvation Army
  • Shae Post, Director, Athens Area Homeless Shelter
  • Leslie Hale: Books for Keeps
  • Salomon Smothers: Action Ministries
  • Sister Margarita

Persons with Disabilities (Neighborhoods/Civic Vitality/ Transportation

  • Sue Rickman: Special Education Coordinator, CCSD
  • Roger Kenney: Director, Athens Inclusive Recreation & Sports
  • Laura Whitaker: Extra Special People
  • Kevin Ayers: UGA Center for Autism
  • Rena Davis: Georgia Options
  • OJ Booker: Advantage Behavioral Health
  • Michael Davenport: Artist
  • Mike Walker: Hope Haven
  • Chris Easton: Autism and Disability Advocates
  • Kent Silver: Disability lawyer, Silver & Archibald

Realtors / Homebuilders (Housing)

  • Carol Williams: Residential Realtor
  • Jared York, Homebuilder
  • Michael Songster: Homebuilder
  • David Ogunsanya: Athens Land Trust
  • Spencer Frye: Habitat for Humanity
  • Veronica Imery: Green Homebuilder
  • Gregg Bayard: Residential Developer
  • Hank Joiner: Multifamily Developer
  • Larry Fort: Residential Realtor
  • James Whitley: Landmark


  • Sheriff Ira Edwards, Athens-Clarke County
  • Chief, Dr. Scott Freeman, Athens-Clarke County Police
  • Chief Fred Stephens, Clarke County School District Police
  • Chief Jimmy Williamson, UGA Police
  • Dale Allen, Athens-Clarke County Probation
  • Chief Jeff Scarbrough, Athens-Clarke County Fire
  • Beth Burgess, Athens-Clarke Emergency Management
  • Robby Atkins, National EMS
  • Laura Allen, American Red Cross
  • Brian Williams, UGA School of Public and International Affairs, Blue and You

Secondary Education

  • Jacob Fucetola: Student, UGA
  • Amaan Charaniya: Student, UGA
  • Roya Naghepour: Student, UGA
  • Student, Athens Tech
  • Jane Kidd: Administrator, Piedmont
  • Student, Piedmont
  • Pam Whitten, Provost, UGA
  • Claudia Shamp: PanHellenic/IF, UGA
  • Brian Brewer: UGA Medical Partnership Graduate, third year Medical Resident at St. Mary’s
  • Michelle Garfield Cook: Director, Office of Institutional Diversity, UGA

Seniors (Neighborhood/Civic Vitality)

  • Alex Patterson: Retired
  • Charlie Maddox: Retired
  • June Ball: Artist
  • Elizabeth Platt
  • Kathy Hoard: Chair, Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau Board
  • Ed Turner
  • Luciano Horescu
  • Helen Mills: Oconee Hill Cemetery, Rotary Club of Athens, and Boy Scouts
  • Walt Swanson: Retired
  • Jack Eisenmann: Winterville Senior Center programming

Small Business / Entrepreneurs (Economic Development)

  • Davis Knox: CEO, Fire and Flavor; AthensMade Board
  • Kamau Hull: Owner, Hull Law Firm
  • Brandon Checketts: CEO, Roundsphere
  • Isaiah Ellison: Owner, Ellison’s Professional Services
  • Chris Herron: Creature Comforts
  • Raisa Drew: Good Biz Program Coordinator, Goodwill
  • Alonso Haro: La Parillia
  • Kristen Bach: Treehouse Arts and Crafts
  • Michael Siebert: The Sign Bros
  • Saphir Grici: Owner, Holy Crepe food truck
  • Deenan Scott: Owner, Big City Bread and Little City Diner


  • Student, Clarke Central High School
  • Student, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Student, Classic City High School
  • Student, Clarke Middle School
  • Student, Coile Middle School
  • Student, Burney Harris Lyons Middle School
  • Student, Hilsman Middle School
  • Student, Rutland Academy
  • Student, Athens Christian School
  • Student, Young Urban Farmer
  • Student, Ulead Athens

Community Stakeholder Groups

On February 28 and March 1, 2017, more than 150 community stakeholders from around Athens-Clarke County gathered at the Classic Center to discuss the future of our community. Leaders from ten focus areas traded thoughts and ideas on the key issues and opportunities for the community and added their expertise to the thousands of comments received through the Focus on the Future workshops held in January 2017.

The participants and their organizing groups are included below.

Health and Safety

  • Tracy Thompson, Mercy Health Center
  • J. Booker, Advantage Behavioral Health
  • Katie Calkin, Piedmont Athens Regional
  • Scott Freeman, Athens-Clarke County Police Department
  • Jimmy Williamson, UGA Police Department
  • Cassandra Bray, Live Forward
  • Mary Kathryn Rogers, AU/UGA Medical Partnership
  • Brian Evans, St. Mary’s
  • Joan Prittie (Tangela Beard), Domestic Violence Task Force
  • Marcia Massengill, Clarke County Health Department
  • Jennifer Richardson, The Athens Neighborhood Health Center
  • Ashley Thompson, UGA Health Center’s Counseling and Psychiatric Services


  • Tim Meehan, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
  • Tim Johnson, Communities in Schools
  • Jane Kidd, Piedmont College
  • Theresa Napoli, St. Joseph’s Catholic School
  • Steve Cummings, Athens Christian School
  • Jesse Evans, Cedar Shoals Student Government Association
  • James Barlament, CCSD School Governance Teams
  • Susan Wilson, Athens Latino Center for Education & Services
  • Geoff Walton, Athens Academy
  • James Price, Athens Tech.
  • George Stafford, UGA Administration
  • Melissa Perez Rhym, ULead
  • Sarah McKinney, Athens Area Community Foundation
  • Alex Yates, Clarke Central Student Government Association

Neighborhoods and Civic Vitality

  • Frances Berry, Federation of Neighborhoods
  • Cheryl Legette, Rotary Club of Athens
  • Alvin Sheats, NAACP
  • Kelly Happe, Athens For Everyone
  • Eve Anthony, Council on Aging
  • Joe Purcell (Mike Hill), Kiwanis Club of Athens
  • Patricia Stephens, Inter Community Council
  • John Gilliam, Prince Hall Masons
  • Pastor Abraham Mosley, Concerned Clergy of Metro Athens

Cultural Resources

  • Amy Kissane, Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation
  • Marilyn Wolf-Ragatz, Athens-Clarke Cultural Affairs Commission
  • Aida Quinones, Pinewoods Library
  • Julie Darnell (Valerie Bell), Athens Regional Library
  • Didi Dunphy, Lyndon House Arts Center
  • David Matthews-Morgan, Winterville Arts Council
  • Terry Powell, Athens Creative Theater
  • Paul Cramer, Classic Center
  • Hillary Brown (Michael Lachowski), Georgia Museum of Art

Environment / Agriculture

  • Alex Patterson, Athens-Clarke Greenway Commission
  • Bruno Giri, Upper Oconee Watershed Network
  • Amanda Tedrow, Cooperative Extension
  • Stacee Farrell, Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful
  • Billy Paugh, Community Tree Council
  • Mack Duncan, Sandy Creek Nature Center Board
  • Andrew Saunders, ACCUG Environmental Coordinator
  • George Chandler, Clarke County Farmers Roundtable
  • Kevin Kirsche, UGA Office of Sustainability
  • Shelly Prescott, State Botanical Garden
  • Bonnie Chastain, Master Gardeners
  • Nancy Stangle, Athens Land Trust
  • Beth Higgins, Horse Farm/Dressage Owner


  • Doug Hansford, ACCUG Building Permits & Inspections
  • Chadsity Young, ACCUG Housing & Community Development
  • Davin Welter, Interfaith Hospitality Network
  • Cory Scott, Athens Homeless Coalition
  • CiCi Mercer, Habitat for Humanity
  • Rick Gibson, University Housing
  • Karen Tinsley, Georgia Initiative for Community Housing

Transportation and Infrastructure

  • Tyler Dewey, Bike Athens
  • Butch McDuffie, Athens Transit
  • Tim Beggerly, Athens-Ben Epps Airport
  • Drew Raessler, ACCUG Transportation and Public Works
  • Cherie Varnum, Madison Athens-Clarke County Oconee Regional Transportation Study
  • David Spooner, Rails to Trails
  • Tres Small, TSPLOST Citizens Committee
  • Robert Holden, UGA Auxiliary Services
  • Frank Stephens, ACCUG Public Utilities

Economic Development

  • Rabun Dekle, Five Points Business Association
  • Todd Henry, Industrial Roundtable
  • Jordan Burke, Four Athens
  • Chris Blackmon, Athens Downtown Development Authority
  • Michael Myers, Small Business Development Center
  • Chuck Jones, Convention and Visitor’s Bureau
  • Ryan Moore, ACCUG Economic Development
  • Isaiah Ellison, Triangle Plaza Business Association
  • Tyler Duggins, Innovation Gateway at UGA
  • Mike Waldrip, Hotel Association
  • Carl Nichols, Lexington Road Corridor Committee
  • Pam Johnson, Athens Technical College
  • Denise Ricks, Atlanta Highway Corridor Committee

Social Services

  • Lemuel LaRoche, Chess and Community
  • Grace Bagwell Adams, Athens Wellbeing Project
  • Leo Cotlar, Casa De Amistad
  • Winston Heard, East Athens Development Corporation
  • Elisa Zarate, Accountability Court – Felony Drug Court
  • Mike Hackett, Boys and Girls Club
  • Susie Weller, Athens-Oconee CASA
  • Kevin Turner, Clarke County Mentor Program
  • Bonnie Miller, Georgia Legal Services
  • Dawn Criss (Andrea Lingard) DFCS
  • Lucy Hudgens, The Ark
  • Solomon Smothers, Action Ministries
  • Shae Post, Athens Area Homeless Shelter
  • Lisa Gautreaux, Action Inc.

Future Land Use

  • Alice Kinman, Planning Commission
  • James Anderson, Planning Commission
  • Maxine Easom, Planning Commission
  • Lucy Rowland, Planning Commission
  • James Scanlon, Planning Commission
  • Dave Hudgins, Planning Commission
  • Brad Griffin, ACCUG Planning Director
  • Ted Gilbert, Clarke County School District
  • Gwynne Darden, UGA Architect’s Office