Meet the Board
I am the daughter of Marietta, of Marion and Mary Dixie, of Mary Renn and Beulah, of Mary and Cordelia Dea. I am the partner of Danny, and mother of Nico and Oscar.
Growing up, my father gave me an example of compassion and steadfast work for justice in our Southern Indiana small town. I then spent a chunk of my 20s in Latin America, where I learned to see my own liberation as bound up in the liberation of others. Since then, I have felt increasingly convicted to do what I can to repair the harm done by systems of oppression, and to live more fully into the call to “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). After moving to Athens in 2017 with my family, I have been welcomed into work that promotes justice for our immigrant neighbors, and into racial justice work with Oconee Street UMC. I am thrilled to be a part of Athens Reparations Action, and to be on this journey with so many committed and faithful leaders.
I am also a poet and singer-songwriter. Because none of that pays the bills, I am also an international development economist. And in case money is irrelevant one day, my partner and I manage an urban homestead where we grow vegetables, keep bees and raise chickens.
Chaplain Cole Knapper
As an Athens, Georgia native, a Spelman College graduate, and a proud U.S. Army War Veteran, I aspire to be a truly intersectional 21st Century Civil Rights Activist.
I am an ordained Chaplain with the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN), a nationwide Civil Rights organization.
As an Ivy League-educated, Post 9/11 Afghanistan War Veteran who deployed on 4 separate tours of duty to the Middle East, I am convinced that now is the time for us to use Reparations work as the basis for the transformational shift that must occur in Georgia in order for us to have the Anti-Racist future that we all deserve and to achieve the beautiful beloved community that we envision.
I am thankful to have met so many transformational leaders here in Athens – including many of my fellow Board Members who understand that, “because of the nature of American White Supremacy, Reparations are needed in order for healing to be made possible – not merely personal repentance, or relational reconciliation, or institutional reform (although each of these is necessary).” (Kwon & Thompson, 2021).
A truly multi-generational, multi-racial, 21st Century Civil Rights Movement is what this moment in time calls for. I view the work of Athens Reparations Actions (ARA) as fitting this requirement in fearfully and wonderfully made ways.
I hold three (3) Master's Degrees in Technology, Media & Education, and I currently serve as the Chair of the NAN Veteran’s Affairs Committee, the
Technology Chair of the Champions Foundation Board of Directors, I serve on the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Clergy Partnership of Greater Athens (ICPGA), the Vice President of the Athens Area Human Relations Council (AAHRC), Co-Director of Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement’s (AADM)’s Teach The Truth (T3) Thursdays History Project.
I am a lifelong member of Ebenezer Baptist Church, West (EBCW), and am forever thankful for the friendships and collaboration with the Oconee Street United Methodist Church (OSUMC).
ARA is the perfect, timely, divine call to action that American history demands, and I am so thankful that I get to be involved!
And not one step back!
I am a member of Oconee Street UMC and have participated in its Racial Justice Task Force and Missions Committee for many years. Our Missions Committee leads the church in our commitment to work towards Racial Justice, Immigrant Justice, Economic Justice, and LGBTQ+ Justice.
It was my privilege as an educator to work for 28 years with teachers in Clarke County and surrounding counties. Together we investigated the critical role families play in their children’s education, how unjust societal and educational structures harm students, and how teachers can disrupt those harmful structures. As a retired UGA professor, I am acutely aware of the university’s history of discrimination. When I read Giving Voice to Linnentown by Hattie Thomas Whitehead and toured this once-vibrant neighborhood now populated by towering dorms, I knew that Athens owed not only an apology but a monetary debt to the families whose homes and wealth were destroyed.
I have lived in Athens since 1986. My husband Lew and I raised our three children here, and we love this town: the music, restaurants, farmers markets, theater, sports, and community-wide celebrations (e.g., LatinxFest, AthFest, DreamFest, Porchfest). I especially love collaborating with the many Athens people and organizations committed to social justice. Athens Reparations Action gives me hope that my grandchildren and the grandchildren of Linnentown will live in a community that works continually towards recognizing its past, repairing its injustices, and resolving to create a more just and equitable Athens.
My name is Eric McClanahan. I am a polymer chemist working for a bioplastics company in the central Georgia area, and I have a PhD in polymer engineering from the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. I am originally from Northeast Ohio and moved to Georgia for work once I graduated. My wife’s name is Erin, and she works as a choir teacher in Athens. I also have a two year old daughter named Avery. We live in Athens, Georgia.
Although I grew up Lutheran (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America), my family and I are now members of Oconee Street United Methodist Church in Athens, Georgia. We decided to become members of Oconee Street United Methodist Church because of its open and inviting congregation, its status as a Reconciling Ministries church, and its social justice initiatives.
In my free time, I enjoy reading, hiking in the North Georgia Mountains, traveling, and playing in a local ska band (no gigs yet).
I decided to join the ARA board because I would like to help right the wrongs of past and current generations and to help America live up to its ideals of equality and freedom.
I decided to join the ARA board after finishing a book study with members of Oconee Street United Methodist Church and Ebenezer Baptist Church West, where I am a member. After we finished discussing the book, we as a group decided not to stop there but do work to repair some of the wrongs that have been committed to the less privileged in this country.
I am a native Athenian. I grew up here during the Jim Crow Era. I was among the first African Americans to attend an all-white school. In 1970, Clarke County schools were desegregated, and the high school for Black students, Burney-Harris High School (formerly Athens High and Industrial School), and the high school for white students, Athens High, merged to establish Clarke Central. I was in the first class in the newly formed school in 1971 at the age of 14.
I was part of a group of young people and adults who would meet at my church, Ebenezer Baptist Church West, to organize marches against businesses that discriminated against African Americans. The desire to be recognized as equal has been in my heart since I was a child. I know we all need to be recognized as one regardless of age, national origin, or financial situation.
After 25 years, I retired as a nurse from St. Mary's Hospital. l have also worked at a couple of long-term care/rehabilitation centers after retirement. I loved my job as a nurse. I am now ready to embark on this new journey in my life with the other great people on this board.
It was no accident that caused my path to cross with JoBeth and Lew Allen, and the other members of a community project sponsored by the Oconee Street United Methodist Church in Athens, Georgia. My husband, Ricky, and I connected with the Oconee group during a very challenging time in our nation's history in 2020. The members were outspoken, honest, and determined to have a challenging conversation about race. That meaningful connection was a place of healing and has led to my continued commitment to finding solutions and promoting equality as a board member of ARA.
I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and was lovingly fostered and later adopted by an elderly couple, Wylie and Bertha Watkins, who were both born in the Jim Crow South in 1899 and 1904, respectively. I listened to their stories of mistreatment, poverty, and lack of opportunities in a society that did not see them as equals, and witnessed firsthand through their example the power of speaking the whole truth, wrapped in the spirit of reconciliation, guided by an unshakable faith in God. My mother made sure I fully knew the history of the global African American experience and equally impressed on me very strongly the importance of treating other folks right without prejudice. My mother’s diverse group of many friends reflected that genuine commitment and call to live by the Golden Rule.
My mother and a school counselor encouraged me to apply to attend a special high school designed to be a social experiment to educate and promote racial diversity and inclusion among students of different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds in Birmingham. This novel experience firmly set me on a course to be intentional about building bridges in relationships with all people.
I graduated from Birmingham-Southern College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and I’ve been a civil servant with the federal government for nearly four decades. I am married to my loving husband and best friend, Ricky. We are the proud parents of our student-athlete Aaron, along with our pets, Sadie and Bear. I am a member of 12Stone Church in Braselton, Georgia where I serve as a musician and member of the worship team.
I am a Seattle, Washington native and received my B.A. from Hampton University, and my J.D. from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. I enjoy traveling and have studied Shakespeare at the University of Westminster in London, England. I have also worked as a High School English Teacher at Fuyang High School in Fuyang, China.
I am passionate about making advances in racial, social, and economic equity and have consulted, advised, and played a key role in campaigns for three South Carolina candidates. For four years, I served as the Executive Director of Charleston Friends of the Library, a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to supporting the Charleston County Public Library System, and promoting literacy. I am honored to now serve as the College Factory's first Executive Director. Outside of work, I find joy in music, being outdoors, traveling, exploring new places, and spending time with my husband.