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Callanwolde Fine Arts Center Executive Director, Peggy Still Johnson, Stepping Down
November 13, 2017. Atlanta, GA
Nearly five years ago the Board of Directors at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center set ambitious goals for newly hired Executive Director, Peggy Still Johnson. Much to their surprise, Peggy would accomplish these goals in half the time they expected. Top on this list of priorities was to restore all seven of the buildings on the 12-acre campus to their past glory and, in doing so, expand the program offerings to better serve the diverse arts community in Greater Atlanta. At the time of Johnson’s arrival, only three buildings were being utilized for classes. On October 25th of this year, the Board’s ambitious goal was realized with the ribbon-cutting for the final restoration project at the estate, and for the first time in its history, Callanwolde is able to utilize the entire campus for arts education.
Starting in 2014, Peggy helped lead a Capital Campaign, raising $2.1 million to restore these buildings for classes and workshops. The renovation project includes the Ruby Callaway Robinson GreenHouse, a state of the art climate controlled greenhouse (designed by the architectural firm Lord Aeck Sargent and renovated by Macallan Construction) which will be used for Callanwolde School of Horticulture and Culinary Arts classes and workshops. The Greenhouse has been named in honor of GreenHouse Foundation Co-Founders CeeLo Green and Shedonna Alexander’s grandmother, Ruby Callaway Robinson, and will serve as the new home for the GreenHouse Foundation’s School Partnership Training Program along with Captain Planet Foundation’s Project Learning Garden Program.
Additionally, the Gardener’s Cottage (designed by Lord Aeck Sargent and renovated by Macallan Construction) originally the home of the Candler family’s live-in gardener now serves as Callanwolde’s Rick Baker School of Music and Music Recording; an expansion into music lessons and classes for music recording for which Johnson led the charge. As part of this new focus, Johnson recruited friend and former colleague, Phil Tan, three time Grammy Award winning mixing engineer– to become Callanwolde’s Director of Music Recording and Artist in Residence and to house a state of the art recording studio (designed by Lord Aeck Sargent and renovated by Gay Construction and Baldwin and Clark Construction) on the Callanwolde campus in the third and final building that was part of the restoration project. The recording studio, located in a Barn original to the estate, has hosted Callanwolde music recording classes along with Tan’s work mixing tracks from artists such as Coldplay, Shakira, Fifth Harmony and more. The Barn received a preservation award for “Excellence in Rehabilitation” from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation.
Johnson reflects back on her time at Callanwolde as a time of growth, not only for the organization but for her, personally and professionally. “Being the Executive Director, for nearly five years, has been one of the most amazing, hardest and best experiences of my career. I am so proud of what we have been able to accomplish in what we thought would take 10 years to do in the transformation of Callanwolde. This could not have been done without the help of so many: staff, Board, DeKalb County, donors, members, volunteers, and all who support Callanwolde by taking classes, buying tickets and renting our facilities. Through counsel from my family, my executive coach and humble prayer, I have decided it is time to step away and see what God has in store for me next. Callanwolde is an amazing gem and I feel humbled I was able to call it my second home these past five years.”
Board member and President, Katie Seitz, says “Peggy Johnson’s impact on Callanwolde and the community will be felt for years to come.” Past President and Emeritus Board Member Andrew Keenan agrees: “Under Peggy’s leadership, Callanwolde has been transformed to be reflective of the arts and the community today in Atlanta and DeKalb County yet remembering our history and staying true to the mission and longtime supporters. Callanwolde has gone from a ‘hidden gem’ to a ‘known gem’ and we will always be grateful to Peggy for her dedication and hard work these past five years.”
A search for the new Executive Director is underway. Johnson will remain in her role during the transition which is expected to occur early next year.
About Callanwolde Fine Arts Center
The Callanwolde Foundation, operating as Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve the historic Candler Estate and offer fine arts and outreach to the community. Callanwolde.org