2013 VHCA Annual General Meeting Recap

Music was provided by the Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus
Music was provided by the Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus.

The 2013 Annual General Meeting of the Virginia-Highland Civic Association was held September 19 at the Inman Middle School cafeteria. Approximately 75 residents were in attendance.

The meeting opened with a performance by the Music@SPARK Advanced Chorus under the direction of Brianne Turgeon. Accompanied by SPARK music teacher Jon Marvel on guitar, the chorus performed four songs that were warmly received by those in attendance.

District 6 City Councilmember Alex Wan
District 6 City Councilmember Alex Wan

The following elected officials were recognized and made comments at the meeting:

  • Atlanta Police Department Captain J.B. Shaw (second in command in Zone 6)
  • Georgia House of Representatives District 57 Rep. Pat Gardner
  • Atlanta City Council District 6 Councilmember Alex Wan
  • Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Board of Education (BOE) District 3 Rep. Cecily Harsch-Kinnane
  • APS BOE Member-Elect Matt Westmoreland.

Several candidates for seats on the APS BOE and Atlanta City Council were also introduced and made brief comments.

APS Board of Education member-elect Matt Westmoreland
APS Board of Education member-elect Matt Westmoreland

Election of Officers

The VHCA Nominating Committee formally introduced the following candidates for seats on the 2013-14 VHCA Board of Directors. All candidates were confirmed in the election that followed and will serve for the upcoming board year.

  • John Becker (incumbent)
  • Peggy Berg (incumbent)
  • David Brandenberger (new board member)
  • Suzanne Buck (new board member)
  • Lola Carlisle (incumbent)
  • Genny Ferrero (incumbent)
  • Paige Hewell (new board member)
  • Jenifer Keenan (incumbent)
  • Colleen Lysen (Atkins Park representative, new board member)
  • Jack White (incumbent)
  • Lauren Wilkes Fralick (incumbent)
  • Jess Windham (new board member)

Retiring board members Arturo Cruz-Tucker, Nicole Foerschler Horn, Pamela Papner and David Wolfson were recognized and thanked for their service.

Committee Reports

Attendees were provided with a printed report detailing accomplishments made this year by the various VHCA committees. Click here to view the report.

VHCA board members (left to right) Lola Carlisle, Peggy Berg and Jack White presenting grant awards.
VHCA board members (left to right) Lola Carlisle, Peggy Berg and Jack White presenting grant awards.

Grants Awarded

The VHCA announced the awarding of the following charitable grants for 2013. A total of $15,000 in grants was awarded.

  • Grady High PTA
    • $500 in support of the Teacher Grant Program
  • Grady High College and Career Connection
    • $800 in support of college/career counseling for all Grady students
  • Inman Middle School PTA
    • $2,500 in support of teacher training in behavior reinforcement and to support all Inman students having the opportunity attend the 7th grade Jekyll Island field trip
  • Springdale Park Elementary School PTO
    • $3,000 to purchase new science kits (8) for grades K-5.
  • Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
    • $500 in appreciation and support of Atlanta Streets Alive
  • Church of Our Saviour
    • $500 in gratitude for the church’s support of the community and willingness to host multiple VHCA meetings
  • Hillside, Inc.
    • $250 in gratitude for their longstanding support of NPU-F
  • Ponce de Leon Public Library
    • $2,950 in recognition and support of the vital role public libraries play in supporting education and cultural literacy in all communities
  • PEDS
    • $500 in support of promotion of pedestrian rights and infrastructure
  • Trees Atlanta
    • $3,500 in support of their tree planting programs and advocacy for trees in our neighborhood and across the city
VHCA Board President Jack White (r) introduces Aaron Gross Award recpient Pamela Papner while former board members John Wolfinger and Winnie Currie look on.
VHCA Board President Jack White (right) introduces Aaron Gross Award recipient Pamela Papner while former board members John Wolfinger and Winnie Currie look on.

Aaron Gross Award Presented

The evening’s final order of business was a presentation of the Aaron Gross Award which was created in 2001 in honor of its namesake, a VHCA President and NPU Chair who gave many years of service to the community. The award recognizes exceptional dedication and enduring excellence in the performance of duties to both the Virginia-Highland neighborhood and to the VHCA. It is not given annually, but when the Board believes that the width and breadth of a resident’s contributions merit special recognition.

Joining VHCA Board President Jack White in presenting this year’s Aaron Gross Award to long-time board member Pamela Papner were previous recipients Winnie Currie – who developed and shaped the association’s processes and approaches to planning and zoning and remains a walking authority on the topic – and John Wolfinger, who campaigned for and gave life to a practical and effective neighborhood safety movement that is based on both newsletter outreach and a street captain system.

In presenting the award to Papner, White made the following comments:

“This year we are delighted to honor a resident who was elected to the board in 2006, served one year as Secretary, and 5 years as President. Such tenure in those jobs alone is itself meritorious, but today we recognize some very special and particular achievements. Six years ago she became the chair of Summerfest, inheriting a model that was widely regarded as satisfactory and successful. Our honoree saw an opportunity to expand the festival’s scope and reach, to engage more citizens and have more fun, and to markedly increase revenues in the process. And she had ideas of what this community could do with those revenues – prominent among them, the purchase of two lots and creation of a brand new public green space, a task that was very much beyond the capacity of the city.

Retiring VHCA board member Pamela Papner receiving the Aaron Gross Award.
Retiring VHCA board member Pamela Papner receiving the Aaron Gross Award.

Like Ms. Currie and Mr. Wolfinger, this year’s honoree will truthfully report that she had a ton of help along the way, and she did. But it was her vision and her will that inspired both the remaking of Summerfest into the event we enjoy today and the purchase and creation of the new park. The added revenues she generated have not only financed the park; they have supported renovations in Orme Park and the pending improvement project in John Howell Park, fueled community grants to all our schools and non-profits, and made possible a level of planning sophistication that included – among many other parts – the creation of Neighborhood Commercial zoning along North Highland Avenue and the Master Plan we will undertake this fall.

It’s a remarkable list of accomplishments, all done with her trademark combination of hard work, diligence, humor, back-patting, volunteer arm-twisting, and – most importantly – an ability to create and share a vision of how this community can expand and protect what has made it special for so many years. We are all much the better for what she has done.

The VHCA is honored to present the Aaron Gross Award to Pamela Papner.”

“I am so honored to have received this award,” Papner commented. “I have such tremendous respect for the Civic Association; keeping it strong is vital.  The willingness of so many citizens to band together and “give back” is what makes our community so special.”

The award comes with a $1,000 stipend that, true to form, Papner chose to apply to the outstanding debt on the new park she was instrumental in creating. Papner was also presented with a commemorative tribute card and a framed photograph of an historic Virginia-Highland street scene.

Click here to view a video of this year’s annual general meeting.

Sally Flocks of PEDS accepts a $500 grant.
Sally Flocks of PEDS accepts a $500 grant.
Madison McGillicuddy from the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. accepts a $2,950 grant.
Madigan McGillicuddy from the public library on Ponce de Leon Ave. accepts a $2,950 grant.
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