Art, on Purpose
WonderRoot is an arts organization that works to improve the cultural and social landscape of Atlanta through creative initiatives and community partnerships. The anchor of our organization is our Arts Center - a full-service facility that supports artists, offers public programming and brings diverse voices together to envision and activate a stronger Atlanta.
What is social change?
We believe that social change is both a values system and a path of action: the belief that society isn't perfect and the understanding that we have the power to do something about it. We strive to affect change through the arts - a powerful vehicle for attracting attention, creating dialogue and changing perceptions.
WonderRoot is an Atlanta-based nonprofit arts and service organization with a mission to unite artists and community to inspire positive social change.
We imagine WonderRoot as a respected knowledge base and resource for those working toward a more equitable Atlanta. We imagine WonderRoot sourcing from this knowledge base and community to incubate and catalyze progressive social change. We will do this work by serving as fertile ground for artistic innovation and by building bridges between makers and doers at all stages in their lives.
We imagine an Atlanta with an aware and mobilized public. An Atlanta where place matters and change happens through an equitable cultural ecosystem and by the responsible sharing of resources. This will happen through an integration of the arts into active forms of city and community building where people of social difference have the agency to move and think freely for themselves and for others.
WonderRoot is pleased to announce the WonderRoot Center for Arts & Social Change, a 54,000 square foot, 8-acre campus for artists and community located in Reynoldstown at the heart of the east Atlanta neighborhoods. Marking the next phase of WonderRoot’s development as Atlanta’s leading organization for arts and community empowerment, the former Tech High/Hubert Elementary school building will house 25,000 square feet of private studio space for artists, nonprofit organizations and small creative businesses; a visual arts gallery; performance venue for theater, dance and film; cafe open to the public; educational spaces; and a series of production facilities for artists, including a recording studio, printmaking studio, darkroom, ceramics studio, digital media lab, and dance rehearsal studio. Celebrating our 13th anniversary in 2017, WonderRoot remains committed to its founding mission of uniting artists and community to inspire positive social change!
To apply for a studio space, click here.
The following are the principle values of WonderRoot. These values define our culture, and we strive to incorporate them in all of our activities.
Accountability and Transparency
We function in a transparent manner and hold ourselves accountable to the communities, organizations, and people we work with along with the public at large.
Affordability and Accessibility
We are dedicated to providing creative programming that is affordable and accessible to all.
Collaboration and Responsiveness
We work collaboratively and responsively with a broad spectrum of local organizations, people, and institutions to foster a culture of support and coalition building and to realize our projects and programs in an egalitarian manner.
Contribution to the Economy & Quality of Life through Leadership in the Arts
We believe that a vibrant arts community contributes to economic vitality and to quality of life. We are dedicated to serving as a leading arts institution in Atlanta. As such, we are committed to advocating for the importance/value of the arts to the economy and quality of life in Metro Atlanta and Georgia.
We are committed to having a diverse staff, board, arts center, and stakeholder network. Positive change happens when a multitude of voices are in dialogue at an open table.
For the Individual
We believe art-making is integral to self-actualization and support individuals in nourishing their creative passions and yearnings as they seek to learn more about themselves and their place in society.
For the Community
We are committed to engaging with and validating our local community’s history and people while helping build a more just society through the arts.
Social Change and the Arts
We support creative initiatives that deal with critical socio-cultural issues to foreground these issues, ignite conversation and aid in the making of a more just and equitable society.
Stewardship of Resources & The Environment
We are committed to being good stewards of our financial resources. We will abide by the highest standards of fiscal integrity in our solicitation of funds, use of funds, our accounting practices, board oversight of finances, and our avoidance of conflicts of interest. Additionally, we are dedicated to environmental stewardship, including in how we design and operate our facilities.
Chris Appleton is Co-founder and Executive Director of WonderRoot. At WonderRoot, Chris drives the organization’s strategic growth, partnership development and oversees it’s talented and passionate staff.
An Atlanta native and Georgia State alumnus, Chris is engaged with various community organizations throughout the state of Georgia. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Arts Network, a statewide cultural advocacy organization; the Advisory Board of Health Connect South; and the Atlanta BeltLine Public Art & Preservation Advisory Board. Previously, Chris served as the founding Board Chair for Burnaway, a regional arts publication; the Governance Chair for Atlanta Celebrates Photography; and on the Board of Directors for Eyedrum.
A leader and voice for progressive change in Atlanta, Chris is the 2014 Americans for the Arts National Emerging Leader Award Winner and a 2014 Outstanding Atlanta Honoree. He holds a certificate from the Fanning Institute at the University of Georgia in Executive Leadership for Non-profit Organizations. Additionally, he is a graduate of the 2013 class of LEAD Atlanta, a fellow with the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers program and a graduate of the 2013 class of New Leaders Council. In 2011, Chris received the Emory Center for Creativity and the Arts Community Impact Award.
Beyond Chris’ professional work, he is an avid supporter of animal rights, lover of the outdoors and amateur vegan chef. Chris can be reached by email here.
Arts Center Coordinator
Sheronda Gipson is a freelance writer, her articles have appeared in Written Magazine, Savannah College of Art and Design’s (SCAD) Connector, Ivy Hall Review, Womenetics, Gutwrench Literary Journal and the car review website, Speed Beautiful. Sheronda is a gifted storyteller and has performed at Carapace and Write Club.
Sheronda received her B.S. in Marketing from Southern University and A&M College and she received her M.F.A in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design. She is a Hands on Atlanta AmeriCorp alumnus, where she served as a Service Learning Team Leader. She is a writing mentor for the Wren’s Nest Scribes program, has served as a social media and literary workshop facilitator for various conferences.
After being in Atlanta over 20 years, Sheronda considers herself a Georgia Peach by way of Holly Springs, MS. In her spare time, you can find Sheronda reading, catching a concert in one of Atlanta's wonderful parks, or working on her golf swing. She can be reached by email here.
Head of Creative Placemaking
As the Head of the Creative Placemaking Department at WonderRoot, Brandon Jones works to creatively align the built environment with the collective identities of the community it serves. Under Brandon’s leadership, the Creative Placemaking department leverages cross-sector partnerships, civic engagement, and artistic strategies as tools for community development in the metro Atlanta region.
Deeply committed to fighting inequity in Atlanta, Brandon serves as the Co-Chair of the Creative Placemaking Committee for the TransFormation Alliance, a collaborative addressing equitable transit-oriented development and communities; on Advisory Board of Twin Radius, an organization connecting artists and faith-based communities; and is a member of the ARC Community Engagement Network. He also served as the Community Engagement Specialist for the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Public Art Grant program 2016-2017.
Prior to joining WonderRoot, Brandon served as the founding Director of Cultural Engagement for the New York City-based organization, Theatre for the Free People; and is the Co-founder of Free People Int., a social advocacy firm based in Amsterdam, NL with clients throughout the Europe and the United States.
He is an alumnus of the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts, School of Drama; received a BA in Theatre Performance from MaryMount Manhattan College in NYC; and is currently an MA candidate for Cultural Sustainability and MA candidate for Business Management at Goucher College.
Brandon can be reached by email here.
Nicole was selected for one of the 2016 “30 Under 30” honorees, co-presented by Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Atlanta and Georgia Center for Nonprofits, recognizing young nonprofit professionals who are making a powerful impact in their organizations by exhibiting outstanding leadership, innovation, and commitment. Nicole has been deeply involved in nonprofits from a young age, leading her to earn a BS in Economics and International Affairs from Georgia Tech, graduating with honors and the express intent to enter the sector; she also has a minor in Spanish and a Certificate in Sociology.
As a native of Atlanta, Morado is passionate about its sustainable and equitable development: In particular, she sees education, workforce development, and arts and culture as community forces capable of protecting residents and families against hardship. Nicole resides in the Southeast Atlanta neighborhood of Peoplestown, and loves walking her rescue dog to Grant Park.
Nina Dolgin is a visual artist and community organizer working to shift the landscape of the Atlanta arts scene toward more accessible and diverse programming. Nina has been an active member of the local arts community since moving to Atlanta in 2009. Her multi-modal solo exhibition, Very Sensitive, was presented in conjunction with the Atlanta Zine Fest in 2015. Dolgin is also a co-founder of Ladyfest Atlanta, an annual political arts festival that fosters collaboration and dialogue between local artists, activists, and community leaders around gender-centered oppression issues.
A compulsive problem-solver, Nina enjoys creating systems and building projects from the ground up. Before joining the WonderRoot team, Dolgin oversaw communications for contemporary dance company T. Lang Dance as well as Murmur Media, a non-profit community resource for DIY, independent media. She received her BA in Film/Video from Georgia State University in 2012.
She can be reached by email here.
Arts Innovation Specialist
Iman Person serves as WonderRoot’s Arts Innovation Specialist. She is a native Georgian with a background in arts administration, gallery development and arts education. In 2010 she received her B.F.A from Georgia State University in Studio Art and has become a noted figure in the local arts community. Previously she has held positions at The City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs as their Social Media Administrator, and the Interim gallery Coordinator for Gallery 72. She also currently holds a place on the performance committee at Eyedrum Gallery.
Iman’s passion for arts activism comes from her love of working as an advocate and mediator between artists and communities through public experience. Iman believes that, “Art shuts no doors,” and that creativity harnesses the ability to break through diversity and create a new language for change. She also endorses art’s ability to tackle bigger and more controversial topics, while still remaining ever expansive and approachable to all people.
She loves to spend her free time visiting nature sites around Atlanta, going to local art events, traveling, dabbling in poetry and lounging around with her cat at home. Iman can be reached by email here.
Andrea Barnwell Brownlee
Director, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art
Andrea Barnwell Brownlee is an art historian, curator, writer, and the director of the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. She is widely recognized for her leadership, ambitious vision, and the impactful exhibition agenda that she has established at Spelman College. Exhibitions including iona rozeal brown: a³ . . . black on both sides (2004), Amalia Amaki: Boxes, Buttons and the Blues (2005), Hale Woodruff, Nancy Elizabeth Prophet and the Academy (2007), Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970 (2007), María Magdalena Campos-Pons: Dreaming of an Island (2008), Undercover: Performing and Transforming Black Female Identities (2009), and IngridMwangiRobertHutter: Constant Triumph (2011) are among the projects that she has curated and co co-curated. In 2011 she spearheaded 15 x 15 — an initiative to acquire 15 works of art in celebration of the museum’s 15th anniversary.
Brownlee is the recipient of numerous academic, professional, and scholarly awards including a MacArthur Curatorial Fellowship in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Art Institute of Chicago (1998 – 2000), a Future Women Leadership Award from Art Table (2005), and the President’s Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art (2005). In 2010, she was awarded the inaugural Nexus Award from the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center. Brownlee, an alumna of Spelman College, earned her Ph.D. in art history from Duke University in 2001.
Brownlee, an alumna of the Getty Leadership Institute, is a member of the Association of Art Museum Directors. She has served on the boards of several arts organizations including the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences and the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund. In 2008 Brownlee served as the Vice Chair of the City of Atlanta Arts Funding Task Force. Cinema Remixed & Reloaded: Black Women Artists and the Moving Image Since 1970, which she curated with Valerie Cassel Oliver, senior curator at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 2007, was recently selected for inclusion in the upcoming Havana Biennial (May 11 – June 11, 2012).
Marketing Manager at Wilmington Trust
Rebecca is the Marketing Manager and Event Planner for Atlanta’s Wilmington Trust Wealth Advisory Services office. She graduated from Berry College with a degree in Hospitality Management and worked in the food and beverage industry for nearly ten years before switching careers. Rebecca worked at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead, Seeger’s restaurant and the Atlanta Country Club.
Rebecca was a founding member of the Atlanta Humane Society’s junior board of directors in 2009, and co-chaired their annual fundraising event in 2011. She has also chaired events for Open Hand and the Atlanta History Center. In 2013 Rebecca helped kick-off WonderRoot’s WonderShip program. WonderShip is a membership driven group that gathers several times a year for exclusive events, including tours of private art collections and studio visits with Atlanta’s top flight artists.
Nina Cheney is a civic leader who has worked with numerous organizations throughout Atlanta to support a wide reaching series of endeavors. Her experience spans marketing, fundraising, leadership and strategic program development. She currently serves on the board of WonderRoot, SCAD board of visitors and the Childrens Museum of Atlanta and is a member of the Forward Arts Foundation.
Nina has an extensive background in the not for profit arena with particular emphasis on healthcare and the arts. She has worked with Emory Neurology Departments Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and Marcus Autism Center. She served on the executive committee for the Childrens Museum of Atlanta and led efforts to raise capital for the museum's design and chaired the first fundraiser. She also chaired the Atlanta History Center's Swan Ball and Forward Arts Fashion show and market.
Her professional background includes supervisory positions in marketing and public relations with top New York firms Hill and Knowlton and Manning Selvage and Lee.
Nina holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Salem College in Winston-Salem NC and is a graduate of Leadership Chattanooga.
Partner at Cozen O'Connor
Lynnette D. Espy-Williams is a Member in the Global Insurance Department of Cozen O’Connor. She is also the Office Managing Partner, Vice-Chair for the firm’s Atlanta office. Ms. Espy-Williams has a national practice representing insurers in complex litigation. Specifically, Ms. Espy-Williams focuses her practice on litigating matters pertaining to the health, life, accident, and disability insurance industry. She has litigated numerous claims involving coverage issues, including bad faith, punitive damages, and deceptive trade practices claims. Ms. Espy-Williams also handles complex commercial litigation, including matters pertaining to products liability.
Ms. Espy-Williams’ experience in both the insurance and commercial litigation industries is widely recognized. She has acted as lead counsel in many insurance and commercial litigation cases and routinely speaks on issues of import to both industries. Ms. Espy-Williams has been selected as a “Georgia Rising Star” from 2012-2015 and is a member of LEAD Atlanta (2013), the Young Lawyer’s Division of the State Bar of Georgia’s Leadership Academy (2013), New Leaders Council (2013), and Outstanding Atlanta (2012). Most recently, Ms. Espy-Williams was honored by IMPACT and the National Bar Association by receiving the Nation’s Best Advocates: 40 Lawyers Under 40 (2013) award.
Progressive Redevelopment, Inc.
Bruce Gunter has spent a career in finance and real estate development and is a recognized leader in the field of community development in Atlanta. He has founded and led organizations that have developed a wide range of housing, from luxury condominiums to supportive housing for the homeless to rental apartments. He founded and built Progressive Redevelopment (PRI), which became the 29th largest nonprofit in Atlanta, to develop affordable housing and to help revitalize communities. A civic and thought leader in the field, he has served on numerous boards related to housing, community development, and social policy.
Before returning to PRI recently, Bruce served as Vice President of New Neighborhoods for John Wieland's new company, Chattahoochee Enterprises. Prior to Progressive Redevelopment, Bruce served as partner and CFO at the Urban Group, which developed the ultra-luxury 2500 Peachtree condominium in the late 90s, and before that he was a partner at the Socially Responsible Investment Group. Bruce has also taught in the master's program at the Georgia Tech School of City and Regional Planning. He has degrees from the George Washington University (MBA) and Georgia Tech, with executive leadership classes at the JFK School at Harvard University.
A lifelong Atlantan, Bruce has attended his beloved church, St Luke's Episcopal, for 30 years and has been a longtime member of the Atlanta Rotary Club. He has served on numerous boards, including chairing the Affordable Housing Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and the Beltline Affordable Housing Advisory Board, and serving as Treasurer of Habitat for Humanity International.
He is married to Angie Patterson and has two children, David and Hannah.
Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP
Charles Hooker grew up in Jackson, Mississippi before attending Rhodes, where he played baseball, studied psychology, art, and religion, and did a study abroad program focused on classical art and civilization in Italy, Greece, and Turkey. After college, he built houses with Habitat for Humanity through a one-year Americorps grant. He completed a master’s degree in religion at the University of Chicago and, after a short stint in the Los Angeles area, moved to Atlanta to begin a joint J.D./Ph.D. program in Law & Religion at Emory University.
Following law school, he clerked for a Federal Judge and then began working at Kilpatrick Townsend, where he focuses on intellectual property litigation. Charles spends as much of his spare time as possible playing with his children and adding a modern addition to his family's 1924 bungalow in Candler Park.
Ross Oscar Knight
Owner, Ross Oscar Knight Photography
Ross Oscar Knight is an international photographer whose images have appeared in various media outlets including CNN, Oprah Winfrey, HGTV, the NBA, Forbes and Essence. To date, he has traveled to five different continents to observe and photograph cultural ceremonies. His fine art exhibits are currently touring the U.S. and in 2014 he published his first book featuring his work from the last 10 years. As a speaker he has trained over 500 amateur and professional photographers and as a philanthropist he has supported cancer research, microfinance programs, youth fitness and mission trips to the Caribbean and Central America. Ross is a member of the Professional Photographers of America and is the co-director of Beautiful in Every Shade, a global platform celebrating the beauty of all people regardless of skin tone.
Prior to his photography career, Knight worked as an Electrical Engineer and Small Business Development Consultant with the Southern Company. His work experience included rotations in Tactical Marketing, Land Acquisition and Corporate Relations. Ross advocated on behalf of minority and female owned businesses as liaison to the Small Business Administration and the Edison Electric Institute. He negotiated $95MM for diverse supplier opportunities and improved his suppliers’ performance by an average of 32% using methods from his Six Sigma Black Belt training.
Ross is a graduate of Morehouse College and the Georgia Institute of Technology. He received a scholarship from NASA where he worked two consecutive summers before traveling to Ohio to gain experience with the General Motors Corporations.
Samara Minkin is the interim director of engagement for Jewish Kids Groups and the founding board member for Arms with Ethics. She started her career as a gallery assistant at Sandler Hudson Gallery and has worked for a range of museums including The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.
Minister, Saint Mark United Methodist Church
Rev. Joshua M. Noblitt is the Minister of Social Justice and Evangelism at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Atlanta, and a owns a private practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. In addition to offering individual, couples, family and group therapy, his work involves leading program, advocacy and volunteer opportunities related to social justice issues in the community.
Rev. Noblitt completed his Master of Divinity at Emory University in 2004 and was ordained at the Western North Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2009. Rev. Noblitt is a Clinical Fellow with the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy, is a member of the Emory University Hope Clinic for HIV/AIDS Research Community Advisory Board, is a member of the volunteer Chaplain Corps for the Atlanta Police Department, serves as President of the South Atlanta Civic League, and Vice Chair of NPU-Y. He is a proud alumnus of the LEAD Atlanta Class of 2011, New Leaders Council Class of 2013 and Outstanding Atlanta Class of 2013.
Collections Assistant, High Museum of Art
Margaret Oliva is a photographer, Savannah College of Art and Design graduate, and world traveler. She has supported WonderRoot since 2007, and has been a WonderRoot Board member since 2014. In her free time Margaret works at the High Museum of Art, is the proud cat mother of two, and is an aspiring mountain climber.
V.P. and General Counsel at Infinite Energy, Inc.
Becky Patrick has been a trial lawyer for over 24 years with a honed focus in technology and IP litigation. In an increasingly knowledge-driven economy and online environment, IP is a vital consideration for any type and size of organization. Working closely with her clients, she helps protect their IP assets, including policing trademarks and copyrights, protecting trade secrets, and managing IP issues. In Becky's practice and also in her spare time, she has represented singers, songwriters, musicians, actors, photographers, painters, start-up technology companies, design and lighting architects, etc., helping these artists and companies maneuver through legal issues and protect their intellectual property and business interests. She is thrilled to serve on WonderRoot's Board and assist in whatever capacity she can.
Mitchell Reiner, President
COO at Capital Investment Advisors and Wela Strategies
Mitch Reiner is an investment advisory representative as well as the Chief Operating Officer for Capital Investment Advisors (CIA) and Wela Strategies. He has been a proud member of CIA since 2005.
Prior to joining CIA, Mitch worked with UBS Financial Services both in their Atlanta and New York offices.
Mitch works with his clients to seek their investing goals and objectives as well as advising them on their comprehensive financial situations including business succession, estate planning and retirement planning. His client base includes clients of all ages and situations comprised mostly of retirees, young executives and small business owners.
As Chief Operating Officer, Mitch is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the firm. Mitch also sits on the CIA Investment Committee guiding overall strategy.
Mitch is a proud Georgia Bulldog, graduating from the Terry College of Business at The University of Georgia with a BBA in Finance. He is also a Leonard Leadership Scholar.
Mitch is passionate about using his financial and leadership passion to make a difference in his community and with WonderRoot and other organizations in Atlanta, including UGA Terry College of Business Young Alumni Board, UGA Student Managed Investment Fund, LEAD Atlanta and Leadership Sandy Springs.
In his free time, Mitch enjoys playing golf, staying in shape, attending Braves and Bulldogs games, and spending time with his wife Jenny, son Micah, daughter Ayla and his Golden Doodle Clayton.
Co-Founder & CEO at Gigabark
Kashi Sehgal is Co-Founder & CEO of Gigabark, an integrated mobile solutions company rooted in phone and text messaging technologies. She is also Executive Director of SuperNova South, the largest multi-disciplinary technology conference in the Southeast.
Previously, Kashi spent time as a management consultant at Accenture where she worked for both government and Fortune 100 clients in areas such as visioning and gap analysis, cost reduction, communication plans, training, performance measurement, incentive structures and more. She also has experience in strategic planning and brand strategy – especially as it relates to early stage companies and non-profits.
Kashi has helped start several non-profits including Music For Tomorrow which provided immediate financial assistance to jazz musicians affected by Hurricane Katrina and currently provides economic opportunities for jazz musicians around the country. MFT is now housed as a program of the Afro Cuban Jazz Alliance in New York. She also works with the Campus Community Partnership Foundation which promotes education through a student centered approach focused on social responsibility.
Kashi is actively engaged in the Atlanta community having served on various boards such as WonderRoot, Georgia’s WIN List, Fulton County Career & Technical Education, Amplify4Good, and WINGS for Kids and with groups such as the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s Mobility Leadership Council, ChooseATL, Atlanta Regional Commission’s Innovation Committee, The Lovett School’s Sustainability Committee and as an Advice For Good Advisor.
Claire Webber, Secretary
Satellite Operator at CNN
Claire Webber was born and raised in Atlanta, and after graduating from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, attended and graduated from the University of West Georgia. After employment with CNN Newsource, she moved to Los Angeles to further her television career. While in Los Angeles, Claire worked for several television productions, in a variety of technical positions, with increasing levels of responsibility. After five years in LA, in 2008, she moved back to Atlanta to continue her career in television. Claire has been a part of the CNN Satellites and Transmissions department since January 2009. During her time at CNN, she was selected to perform a six-month assignment in CNN’s London bureau, giving her professional international exposure to accompany the many personal travel experiences she has enjoyed.
Claire is an active board member with the May P. and Francis L. Abreu Charitable Trust. The trust, established in 1977 under the Will of her grandmother, May Patterson Abreu, was intended to honor her late husband, Francis, through philanthropy. She and her siblings are honored to carry on the family’s long history of charitable pursuits. Claire has also recently joined the Board of Trustees at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School, a private day school in Atlanta, Georgia, and she is proud to be part of Holy Innocents' thriving community. Claire and her husband Jeff live in East Atlanta with their standard poodle, Edith Anne Piaf Webber.
Alex West is an Atlanta native and software entrepreneur focused on using technology as a tool to deliver business solutions. After graduation from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2006, Alex founded Ontologic where he now serves as President and CEO. Ontologic’s clients include Cox Communications, St. Joseph’s Hospital, CB Richard Ellis, and clients in Atlanta and beyond.
Alex is a co-founder of WonderRoot and a leader within Atlanta’s arts community as both a patron and collector. Since its beginning in 2004, WonderRoot has risen as one of Atlanta’s most critical and influential arts organizations.
Beyond the arts, Alex has been acknowledged for his accomplishments in education and business. His college thesis was the recipient of the President’s Undergraduate Research Award in 2006. In 2008, he was named one of the Top 30 Graduates Under 30 by the Georgia Institute of Technology. And most recently, he was awarded the 2012 Ivan Allen Jr. Legacy Award from GA Tech University. Alex is an Eagle Scout, Troup 463.
Odetta MacLeish White
Odetta MacLeish-White is a Senior Program Director with Enterprise Community Partners, where she works to support comprehensive community stabilization efforts around the country with a focus on building collaboration and nonprofit capacity.
Sales Manager, artcloud
Barnett Williams is an Atlanta native who was raised among artists. Always surrounded by his father’s photography work and other family members’ projects, he has a natural knack for creativity. Currently, Barnett works in sales for artcloud, an Atlanta tech startup that provides management solutions for galleries, museums, collectors and independent artists. Previously, he worked in account management for a large cloud-based corporate events management platform, Cvent, in the Washington, DC metro area, but relocated to Atlanta in 2014 to enter an industry he’s more passionate about.
A graduate from the University of Alabama, with a concentration in finance and real estate, Barnett brings creative, fresh development ideas to WonderRoot and a passion for helping offer creative opportunities to those who may not have them otherwise.
In his free time, Barnett is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fly fishing, skiing, hiking and camping. He also enjoys spending time at Shepherd Spinal Center, where he is a Fitness Buddy, offering weekly assistance to a patient who’s working towards a healthier, stronger life. Now that he’s back in Atlanta, Barnett enjoys spending more time with friends and family and exploring local street art, music and craft brewing.
Friends and artists/activists Chris Appleton, Alex West and Witt Wisebram founded WonderRoot in 2004 with a vision of re-imagining Atlanta through the arts. Established as a community-based arts organization, WonderRoot began working in schools, community centers and public spaces by connecting artists to underserved communities. While implementing a handful of projects during its first three years, WonderRoot was primarily focused on building the foundation of an organization that was committed to long-term stability, sustainability and community impact.
In February of 2008, WonderRoot opened the WonderRoot Community Arts Center. The WonderRoot Community Arts Center serves as a community gathering space and launching pad for artists to engage a broader community. It hosts arts education programs for youth and adults, music, literary and theater performances, and has been named “Best Advocate for the Arts” by Creative Loafing (2008-12), “Best Place to Create Art and a Better World” by Atlanta Magazine and “Best Venue” by Alarm Magazine.
In the subsequent seven and a half years, WonderRoot has emerged as one of Atlanta’s leading cultural organizations, partnering often with some of Atlanta’s most storied institutions such as the High Museum of Art, MARTA, Emory University, Georgia Equality, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta and the Atlanta BeltLine. During those years, WonderRoot launched signature programs such as Art Sign the BeltLine, Art on the BeltLine, WonderRoot’s Generally Local, Mostly Independent Film Series, the Walthall Artist Fellowship, 75 Blue Doors and WonderRoot CSA.
WonderRoot is primed to embark upon a bold new chapter as it looks forward to opening the doors on the WonderRoot Center for Arts & Social Change--a 54,000 square foot facility that will enable WonderRoot to further its commitment to the local arts and social change communities, plus increase the scale of programming and services offered by the organization.
In its thirteenth year of existence, WonderRoot remains committed to its founding purpose of supporting artists to have successful professional careers in Atlanta, while working to address issues of social justice, environmental justice, health and youth development through the arts. It is governed by a Board of Directors which includes co-founder Alex West and led by a staff of six, including co-founder and Executive Director Chris Appleton.
2014AtlantaPlanIt: National Emerging Leader Award, Chris Appleton Americans for the Arts: American Express Emerging Leader, Chris Appleton 2012
Atlanta Magazine: Best of Atlanta Hall of Fame, WonderRoot
Creative Loafing: Best Advocate for the Arts, WonderRoot
Creative Loafing: Best Film Series, WonderRoot’s Generally Local, Mostly Independent Film Series
Emory Center for Creativity & the Arts: Community Impact Award, Chris Appleton
Creative Loafing: Best Advocate for the Arts, WonderRoot
Creative Loafing: Best Film Series, WonderRoot’s Generally Local, Mostly Independent Film Series
Creative Loafing: Best Sign that ATL Dance Scene Rules, Collaboration (Magnetic Drift)
Creative Loafing: Best Pop-up Art Space, Art on the BeltLine
Creative Loafing: Best Advocate for the Arts, WonderRoot
Creative Loafing: Best Public Artwork, Art on the BeltLine
Creative Loafing: Best Public Art Event, Art on the BeltLine
Creative Loafing: Best New Trend in the Arts, Art on the BeltLine
Atlanta Magazine: Best Place to Create Art, WonderRoot Community Arts Center
Creative Loafing: Best Advocate for the Arts, WonderRoot
Creative Loafing: Best New Trend in the Arts, Art Collectives (WonderRoot)
Creative Loafing: Best Public Art, Art Signed the BeltLine
Creative Loafing: Best Advocate for the Arts, WonderRoot