Reflecting, Sharing, Learning

Current Advisory Board Members

Twelve Advisory Board Members from the Athens area were selected to guide the project.

Clare Auwarter
Claire is a recent retiree from the Athens Regional Library System.  Most of her experience has been in public libraries, ranging from children's services to reference work, and grant writing to administration.  She is a passionate believer in public libraries, and reading, naturally, is her favorite past time. She was instrumental in researching and writing our Boomer Grant from IMLS. Now she is free to pursue other interests, including traveling, swimming and grand parenting. Clare resides in Watkinsville, GA.

Elizabeth Barton
Elizabeth's work focuses on Art quilts. She has had several solo or two person shows and has been included in several national juried shows.

She says of her work: I wish to explore the beauty of everyday environments both cityscapes, industrial and rural landscapes.  I want to create a sense of place but also reveal the dynamic bones of the scene.  I enjoy working in series and I'm currently fascinated by industrial landscapes: their unusual interlocked shapes and textures, and the contrast between industry and the natural environment.
Reflected light, translucency and the effects of time on both cityscapes and landscapes are recurring themes; repeated patterns of natural or architectural forms are leitmotifs.   The aim is to make work that glows with light and is rich with color and nuance; a work in which the unified composition is satisfying, but the details are fascinating. Elizabeth resides in Athens, GA.      Website:  Blog

Brenda Bellinger
Brenda is an original member of Athens Voices of Truth, a community wide choir that has been singing sacred music for over 30 years. They have performed regionally as well as locally and once ventured to Salt Lake City Utah for a concert with the Tabernacle Choir. Brenda serves as choir director occasionally. She has also served as Minister of Music at East Friendship Baptist Church for 40 years.  Brenda resides in Athens, GA

Van Burns
Van Alex Burns grew up in the north Georgia mountains where he attended Young Harris College, and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1971. MFA in Painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he also studied graphic design. Van taught briefly at Brewton-Parker College in south Georgia where he initiated the Art Department; he worked at several graphics studios in Atlanta and was editorial cartoonist for Creative Loafing for 18 years, but he has spent most of his career working as a freelance graphic designer, which he does to this day. Van and his wife Denise moved to Athens in 1997.

Jack Eisenman
Founding Dean of Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership at Palm Beach Atlantic University.  Retired as Senior Professor of Adult Education and Religion.  Currently teaching university courses online and teaching gardening classes for Athens Community Council on Aging. Jack resides in Winterville, GA.

Carole Henry
Carole is Professor of Art Education at the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia.  Her research interests include aesthetic and critical response, and museum education. Carole resides in Madison, GA. 

Gail Karwoski
Gail Langer Karwoski is the award-winning author of 9 books for young readers – historical novels and nonfiction, a short story collection, and "green" picture books.

Her books have been Junior Library Guild selections and Mom's Choice winners. Her novel, Seaman, was featured in Parade Magazine and her picture book, Water Beds, was endorsed by SeaWorld. Her latest novel, Quake! Disaster in San Francisco, 1906 appeared on 8 state award lists. She has been Georgia Author of the Year for Juvenile Literature 3 times, and her short story collection, The Tree that Owns Itself is on the list of "25 Books that all Young Georgians should read.",

When Gail is not clicking merrily on her keyboard, you can find this former teacher at schools, libraries, and conferences, where her lively programs inspire children to read and writers to create. She lives in Watkinsville, where she and her husband – retired UGA prof Chester- raised their two daughters. Currently, the couple is under the close supervision of three tortoise shell cats. Website: Gail Karwoski

Milton Leathers
Currently a tour guide for Athens Heritage Walks, Milton Leathers' ties in Cobbham run deep. He is descended from Virginian John Cobb, who first purchased land in the Athens area in 1792. His father grew up in Cobbham, and Leathers lived in the Hill Street home built by his great-great-grandparents, Confederate General Howell and Mary Ann Lamar Cobb. Leathers is a consummate story-teller, and he traces his interest in Athens history to many years spent listening to the stories of his grandmother, Camilla McWhorter (Mrs. Andrew Cobb) Erwin.

A graduate of Western Carolina University, Leathers' varied career includes service as a Russian translator in the U. S. Army, as a teacher on Oahu, as president of L. M. Leathers & Sons and Erwin & Co., Inc. and, upon retirement, as an English teacher in China. He is former chairman of the Historic Cobbham Foundation and past president of the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation.

Mary Kay Mitchell
Mary Kay is an award willing News and Public Affairs Director for WUGA radio. She resides in Athens, GA.  

Donny Seagraves

Donny Bailey Seagraves is a children's book author living in Winterville, Georgia. She's a native of Athens, Georgia, grew up there, and attended local schools, including the University of Georgia. She and husband Phillip, also a native of Athens, are parents of grown twins, Greg and Jenny. Donny's debut children's middle grade novel, GONE FROM THESE WOODS, was published by Random House as a Delacorte Press hardback in 2009 and as a Yearling paperback in 2011. GFTW was a Brodart McNaughton "best of the best" List Pick and received positive reviews from School Library Journal, Booklist, Kirkus and other publications. Donny also has been a freelance writer for many years. Her columns, magazine articles, and short stories for children and adults have appeared in numerous regional and national newspapers and magazines including the Athens Observer, the Athens Daily News, Athens Magazine, Mature Living, the Chicago Tribune and The Writer Magazine. Since 1998, she has owned and operated Junebug Books, an online used and rare book business. For more information, visit

Madeline VanDyke

Madeline Van Dyke is a community activist who is currently serving on the Georgia Parish Nurse Resource Center Board, the Federation of Neighborhoods Board, the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission, the M and C Economic Development Task Force, the Council on Aging's Athens Village Advisory Board, the Lukas Fund Board, the Rose of Athens Board, the Georgia Conflict Center Board, the Public Library Endowment Board, the Health and Wellness Nursing Staff at First Presbyterian Church, the Georgia Review Board, and the Oconee River Land Trust Board.

Historically she’s served on the Athens Chapter of the Georgia Conservancy Board, the Child Abuse Prevention Council Board, the Athens Justice Project Board, the Family Connection/Communities in Schools Board, and the Athens Arts Council.

Former Advisory Board Members

Peter Loose (Year 1)
Peter is a naturalist turned artist.  He once worked as a naturalist at Sandy Creek Nature Center, but began making art as his appreciation of nature and all the creatures who live there increased.  Peter resides in Hull, GA. Website: Peter Loose

Julie Cannon (Year 1 and 2)
Since Julie learned to talk she has been thought of as a story teller.  She is now the author of 5 published books reflecting her southern roots and is a leader of writers' workshops.  Julie resides in Watkinsville, GA  

Mary Porter (Year 1 and 2)
Mary holds a Bachelor and Master Degrees in Art from the University of Georgia, where she later taught painting and color theory classes. She has received a National Foundation for the Arts Regional fellowship and two Georgia Council for the Arts grants. She exhibits nationally but is a favorite local painter. Mary resides in Athens, GA. Website: Mary Porter

Aida Quinones (Year 1 and 2)
Aida is the head librarian at Pinewoods Library and Learning Center. Pinewoods serves an audience of mainly Spanish speakers. Aida keeps the library very busy with computer classes, language lessons, children's programming, and cultural events. Learn more about this busy learning center: Pinewoods Library and Learning Center


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