Southface’s Visionary Dinner, the most anticipated gathering of Georgia’s sustainable building community, is coming up on Thursday, October 6, 2022, at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia! Every year, the Visionary Dinner provides valuable networking opportunities among sustainability leaders and innovators, all while funding Southface’s work toward a healthier environment for all.
This year’s cocktail-style reception will feature dishes prepared by celebrated local chefs, a special performance by a GoodUse grantee, opportunities to learn about sustainable innovation at Agnes Scott and other high-performance building projects nationwide, the presentation of our Argon Award, remarks from new Southface President James Marlow, and more.
The event is being hosted in the Letitia Pate Evans Hall at Agnes Scott College 141 E College Ave, Decatur, GA 30030. We created a handy virtual map to help get you to the location, find visitor parking at the West Parking Deck, and get to the electric vehicle showcase.
There will also be golf carts available at the beginning of the event ferrying guests to the event space.
Business casual / cocktail attire is the dress code for the evening.
Did you know Southface has served every building on campus? Join students on a brief walking tour as you arrive at the event! Agnes Scott students will be in the parking area and will host tours as people arrive.
Southface and Agnes Scott have been proud partners in climate action since 2009 through innovative partnerships and funding opportunities. Agnes Scott has reduced its carbon emissions by 40% since 2007 and the college is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2037. We’re proud to work with them and we hope you’re looking forward to a guided tour of their sustainability upgrades at the Visionary Dinner.
Ryan Gravel is an urban thinker, designer, author, builder, and speaker – an entrepreneur working on ideas about the future of cities. As founder of Sixpitch, Generator, Aftercar, and Elevator, Ryan is fully engaged in the dramatic transformation coming to cities, offering a range of approaches and partnerships designed to support a more equitable, resilient, and beautiful world.
Susan Kidd led Agnes Scott College’s climate action efforts for over 14 years as the inaugural Executive Director of the Center for Sustainability. During her tenure, Agnes Scott became a regional and national leader for achieving ambitious and intentional carbon reduction goals including being on track to achieve a 50% reduction by the end of the 2022 calendar year and to meet a carbon neutrality commitment of 2037. Susan fostered active community participation in energy and water conservation, innovated a model of investment with the Green Revolving Fund which allowed for aggressive energy and water efficiency upgrades and proved that effective economic tools are valuable climate mitigation tools, installed two geothermal HVAC systems heating and cooling 10% of the campus’ square footage, creatively financed a quarter megawatt of on-site solar installations, and mentored a new generation of sustainability and climate action professionals.
Hailing from Newnan, Georgia, Susan is a double graduate of Agnes Scott with a B.A. degree in History and a Master of Arts in Teaching. She also received a Master’s in Environmental Law from Vermont Law School.
Chandra Farley is an activist at heart and credits her parents with instilling a sense of duty to always do what she can to advance justice and fairness. With a passion for elevating the connection between environmental justice, strong communities, and our daily lives, Chandra continues to build upon a career foundation in the design and construction industry that informs her perspective on built and natural environments.
With a career history at Southface Energy Institute and Partnership for Southern Equity, Chandra is well-known in energy, utility, and climate justice circles. She has formed national partnerships to improve the environmental and financial sustainability of nonprofit facilities and developed community-centered strategies to advance energy equity, climate justice, and utility accountability at local, regional, and national scales. Her advocacy extends to Congress where she has testified at hearings on climate change and equity and she has presented to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the establishment of their Office of Public Participation.
Chandra is the Co-Chair of the Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice Advisory Board, chair of the Georgia NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee, a graduate of the EPA’s Environmental Justice Academy, former President of the Environmental Justice Academy Alumni Association, and serves on the Board of Directors for ACEEE, Community Movement Builders, Georgia Conservation Voters Education Fund, Greenlink Analytics, Just Solutions Collective, People’s Justice Council/Alabama Interfaith Power & Light, and Sol Nation.
Laurel Creech is our emcee of the night. She oversees environmental initiatives including renewable energy, energy efficiency, green infrastructure, waste reduction practices, and outreach/ education via the program called Socket. Projects she is currently working on are helping implement the city’s first Climate Action & Adaptation Plan, increasing renewable energy, reducing built infrastructure’s energy consumption, fleet electrification, and overall greenhouse gas emissions mitigation strategies. Under her leadership, the Division has received two Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards and four U.S. Green Building Council Impact Tennessee awards.
Previously from 2010 to 2015, Laurel held three positions in the Office of the Mayor for Karl Dean including Sustainability Director, Livability Director, and Chief Service Officer. As one of the first ten Chief Services, she led the development of Cities of Service, a national movement to connect citizens to the greatest needs of cities in the United States. In addition to advising other Chief Service Officers across the country, Laurel served as the US delegate for the launch of Cities of Service UK.
Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office Laurel was the founder and director of Team Green Adventures with the goal to connect Middle Tennessee community to the outdoors through active and engaging events for all ability levels. She was also on-air talent on both WRLT Lightning 100 and WYYB The Phoenix. In 2009 after an interview with Mayor Dean, she co-founded Live on the Green with her fellow co-workers at Tuned In Broadcasting.
Laurel was nationally recognized as one of the Smart Energy Decisions’ inaugural Women in Smart Energy(WISE) in 2022, a Women in Sustainability Award for Local Public Sector in 2021, and in 2019 she served as a U.S. Delegate on the European Union Sustainability Delegation Tour. She currently serves on the boards of the Nashville Parks Foundation, Cumberland Trails Conference, and the Tennessee Nature Academy. She also serves on the Advisory Boards of Urban Green Lab, Tennessee Women in Green, and Walk/Bike Nashville. On a regional level, Laurel serves on the Southeast Sustainability Directors’ Network’s(SSDN) Steering Committee and is co-host of the SSDN’s Green Minds podcast. She is also an on-air radio air talent on two Nashville radio stations: WXNA 101.5FM and WMOT 89.5FM
Tyrone has specific responsibility for directing all financial advisory services and private placement activity. Prior to re-joining Red Rock Global, he was Managing Director of Redevelopment at Invest Atlanta. Tyrone is a graduate of Dartmouth College with degrees in Economics and Government, as well as the University of Chicago Law School and Booth School of Business, where he received his Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration degrees, respectively. He is past Chair of the Public-Private Partnership Council of the Urban Land Institute and was a participant in the Atlanta District Council’s Inaugural Center for Regional Leadership Development. Tyrone is also a graduate of the 2012 Class of Leadership Atlanta, the 2013 Class of Leadership Georgia and the 2013 Atlanta Regional Commission Leadership Institute.
Leocadia I. Zak became the ninth president of Agnes Scott College in July 2018. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Mount Holyoke College, which recognized her as a Woman of Influence in 2012, Zak holds a JD degree from Northeastern University School of Law.
During Zak’s tenure, Agnes Scott has achieved record enrollment and fundraising, launched graduate programs and been recognized by U.S. News & World Report for innovation, teaching, first-year experience and social mobility. The college has continued to build its unique SUMMIT experience by adding signature components for professional success in the junior and senior years. The Sophomore Class Atlanta Leadership Experience (SCALE) provides a weeklong experience in a corporate or non-profit organization, while Applied Career Experiences (ACE), a one week, one-credit course, gives students an opportunity to make professional connections with community partners. With her appointment of the college’s first vice president for equity and inclusion, who now oversees the Office of People and Culture, Agnes Scott has further strengthened its commitment to community and to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. The college was designated as a Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Campus Center by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and launched its first JEDI annual plan in 2020.
Under Zak’s leadership, Agnes Scott developed a strategic plan, Pathway to Success, that will guide the college through 2026. Core themes of the plan are providing a transformative education, ensuring student success, building a culture of community and engaging the world beyond the campus. As president, she has also focused on improving the operational efficiency of the college and securing its financial future.
Zak is the immediate past board chair of the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education (ARCHE) and serves on the American Council on Education (ACE) Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Georgia Independent College Association. She is a member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta, International Women’s Forum (IWF) and the Truist Atlanta Advisory Council. In addition, she serves on the Metro Atlanta Chamber Innovation and Entrepreneurship Advisory Board (IEAB) and is a trustee of Global Communities: Partners for Good, an international non-profit organization.
With an extensive background in international economic development and international project finance, in 2010, Zak was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. USTDA is an independent federal agency that advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle income countries.
Before joining the public sector, Zak was a partner at the international law firm Mintz Levin, where she practiced international and domestic project finance in the Boston and Washington, D.C., offices.
Zak has taught international project finance as an adjunct faculty member at Georgetown University Law Center and Boston University School of Law.
Tim Echols got solar in 2010, and an EV in 2013. He has been urging Georgians to use clean energy since the day he arrived on the PSC almost 12 years ago. He created the Clean Energy Roadshow in 2011 traveling the state with a band of alt fuel enthusiasts each summer since then. He rented a train and called it the Solar Express. In 2013, Tim was the third vote that jumpstarted utility scale solar in Georgia. Tim started the EV Braintrust that meets quarterly to advance electric vehicles. With the encouragement of Southface President James Marlow, Tim created the 2019 net metering program, which he hopes to grow during this year’s rate case in December. And he even has a weekly radio show called “Energy Matters” that is approaching 200 episodes. Tim has been a clean energy and innovation champion and Southface is proud to call him a friend.
Gretchen Gigley serves as Program Director of GoodUse, Southface’s successful resource-efficiency grant program. This expansion includes developing regional and national portfolio partnerships, fundraising and implementing strategic marketing strategies. To date, the Nonprofit Solutions programs have positively impacted over 250 nonprofits around the nation, minimizing their environmental impact, increasing water- and energy-efficiency in their facilities, and ultimately saving these organizations mission-critical dollars. In her spare time, Gretchen loves to bake, sing and explore the world with her 7-year old son, husband and hound dog!
Doug believes that Atlanta is a place that invests in relationships before a crisis happens and a national model for the diversity that America is experiencing. He served for eight years as the Founding CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. He led the effort to design, build, fundraise and launch the Center successfully. He also supported Mayor Shirley Franklin to secure and pay for the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Papers Collection. Doug’s work has been recognized by many Civic, Civil Rights, and Human Rights Organizations, including the Atlanta Business League, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the Atlanta Urban League, the Junior League of Greater Atlanta, the Buckhead Rotary Club, and the Anti-Defamation League
The Sweet Fusion Experience, previously known as Sweet Heat ATL, was established in June 2019 by Veronica Madison better known as Chef V. With a desire to provide a more luxury food experience, The Sweet Fusion Experience by Chef V was created for a more diverse menu to accommodate any style of dining from family cookouts to weddings and fine dining. Food truck services continue to flourish as an accommodation to private and corporate clients who prefer a catering experience with a street food ambiance. To date, Sweet Fusion Experience has been independently successful, and Chef V enjoys the opportunity to create lasting memories and experiences through her passion for spreading love through her gift of creating delicious cuisine.
Creator and visionary of the sought-after successful catering company, AARON’S CATERING, Chef David Aaron has been named “The People Who Make Miami” by Ocean Drive, “The Top 20 Industry Leaders Under 40” and named as “The 68 Most Innovative People “In the United States.” Chef David Aaron is from Miami and Colombian by blood. He is known for being an innovator, creator and perfectionist. His obsession with this industry or for the search of that perfectly balanced plate of food and cocktail. He has led and advised to open more than 35 food and beverage operations in Colombia, Peru, and the United States, including restaurants, mixology programs, food trucks, hotels and food and beverage operations. Owner of innovative places recognized for creating new trends in the industry and for their recognized awards: Huerta Coctelería Artesanal – 2016 “Best new bar in Colombia” , 2018 “Best bar in Bogotá” and “Best Signature Cocktails in Colombia ” , 2019″ Best Bar in Bogotá “and 2020” Best Liquor Bar in Bogotá “at Premios La Barra (Colombia) and Oak Restaurant with a nomination for Premios La Barra 2019 as “Best New Casual Restaurant” in Bogotá and “Best Casual Restaurant” in 2021. Chef David Aaron now embarks to take Latin Fresh to a national well-known brand alongside father Jay Aaron and partner Juanita Mesa.
Chef Tania is the Executive Chef of Sweetpeas Private Chef & Catering, she was born in Mexico and raised in Arizona before moving down to South Florida, a Graduate of Johnson & Wales University and a current student for food. She learned at a young age how to cook from her grandmothers’ recipes at their family restaurant and since then she has been an advocate for superb cooking. Throughout the years her mentors and experiences have guided her to refine her background customs as well as to culturally learn from others. Chef Tania has no specific preferences on cooking, outside of her background she loves Asian, Caribbean food & the feeling of making others happy with her food. She is a strong believer that you are only as good as your last dish!
Chef Jarvis Belton was born in Washington DC and raised in Northern California. He has earned degrees and certifications from Morehouse College, Le Cordon Bleu Domestic / International, and Emory University. As the chef for Google, he had the opportunity to produce exquisite foods for thousands of clients which help bolster his kitchen ingenuity. From famous actors to professional athletes, his passion for the culinary arts has touched people from every walk of life. Having traveled to over 45 countries/ cities around the globe, Chef Jarvis draws from those experiences as inspiration for every engagement. Follow him on social media @yourchefsfavorite for more insight.
Chef Nancy: Jewel and Chef Nancy Anderson are the owners of Amorous Tacos. It’s a pop-up restaurant, food truck and catering company that provides a Miami Southern twist to gourmet tacos and pasta dishes. This family-owned business is unique as these sisters are determined to make you fall in love with tacos one bite at a time.
We are a family-owned company that provides a service that you have to experience at least once in your lifetime! Our cuisine is a Caribbean-Soul Fusion, but not limited to just that. Executive Chef, Kia Woods -Burt has a Caribbean-Southern background, being culinary and self-taught. She graces the kitchen with versatility and extreme efficiency, feeding a passion and drive to serve our customers and entice their palate.