Focus Group Interviews

The Envision Athens process kicks off its engagement effort this month with the Focus on the Future public workshops. Complimenting this effort, the Steering Committee will also convene 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 will take place on the week of January 30th and will be facilitated by planning consultants from planning NEXT. (Planning NEXT are leading the Envision Athens process and will be facilitating Focus on the Future workshops.) Each meeting will include a brief background the Envision process, but focus primarily on a discussion of the group’s key opportunities and challenges, both today and in the future. The Steering Committee is interested in gathering 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 has been included below.

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

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

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

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


  • 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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • 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

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


  • 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

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

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


  • 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

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

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

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

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