"I want to help your community or organization formulate innovative strategies and creative solutions that result in stronger organizational systems and infrastructure".
There is nothing Geraldine Plato loves more than helping groups of people work together to strengthen the health and well-being of communities and make them richer places to live. Her unique understanding of small community infrastructures stems from her own experiences living, working, volunteering and raising a family in rural Spruce Pine, North Carolina. She knows first-hand, not only the challenges small communities and non-profits face but the potential opportunities they have for growth.
Geraldine's career includes two periods of administrative leadership at the renowned Penland School of Crafts. In the mid-80s, she was responsible for oversight of the scholarship program, the coordination of all services, and the management of special events. Later, as assistant director for seven years, she oversaw operational phases of the school’s management. Previously, Plato was public information director for the Mississippi Arts Commission, developing and implementing communications for the statewide arts organization. For seven years Geraldine served as head of the Spruce Pine Montessori School where she developed innovative programs and curriculum, donor relationships, and fundraising strategies while managing faculty, staff and hundreds of volunteers in the four-county service area. Most recently she served as the executive director of HandMade in America, a regional organization whose mission is to grow local economies through craft.
A dedicated volunteer, she has served on the boards of: The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, The EnergyXchange, the Blue Ridge Regional Hospital Foundation, Dig In! Yancey County Community Garden, and chaired the Mitchell County affiliate board of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and the Penland Post Office Historic Renovation Project. She was a cabinet member of the Asheville Hub Project for two years. Currently, she serves as president of the board for the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design.
Meet the collaborators. With varied backgrounds and multi-disciplinary perspectives at the core of our work, we combine our talents to deliver novel solutions, effective communication, and innovative thinking.
"I believe in the power of harnessing the voice of the community. They are the experts and from their assets and abilities comes a strategy for change that will be long-lasting and self-sustaining."
Megan Williams Jamison is an urban planner with expertise in community outreach and engagement, creative economic development and downtown revitalization, urban agriculture, and sustainable food systems planning.
From 2008-2010 Megan worked for HandMade in America, where she assisted the Small Town Revitalization program. From 2011 to 2012 she worked as a business counselor for North Carolina's Small Business and Technology Development Center and for her family's business, a machine shop that just celebrated its 75th year in business.
A champion for sustainable, creative and place-based solutions to community development and planning efforts, Megan served on the Asheville Artists Alliance in 2009-2010 and actively volunteered with the planning and design nonprofit, Asheville Design Center, from 2007-2012. She worked on planning projects in Asheville's River Arts District and in The Block neighborhood, where she worked with stakeholders to facilitate community-based plans.
Megan moved to Texas in 2012 to work with the City of Austin's Sustainable Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens program, one of the first of such programs in the nation. She worked on projects related to reducing urban food deserts, expanding farmers markets, and integrating agricultural practices with vacant public land. Her work coordinated closely with the City's Sustainable Food Policy Board and the Offices of Sustainability, Watershed Protection, Parks and Recreation and Economic Growth and Redevelopment. Additionally, she assisted with the 2013 study, The Economic Impact of Austin's Food Sector, which resulted in a greater understanding of the impact local agriculture has on the City's economy.
She holds a BA in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia and a MA in Geography and Planning from Appalachian State University.
Megan also has her own planning consulting venture, Future Trace Strategies, which allows her to work on planning and development project nationwide.
Megan Williams Jamison
"I firmly believe people who think creatively and act consciously are the vanguard of positive social change in the 21st century."
Ann Batchelder is passionate about the evolving and expanding role the arts can have within communities. Founder of Catchfire Consulting, she uses her unique background to help people ignite their creative ideas, get clear, get going and get the results they want. She also offers creative consultation services for organizations, institutions and private businesses.
While living in Boston and New York, Ann was the Acting Director of the International Studies Graduate Program at Lesley University, an account executive at Benton and Bowles Advertising Agency in Manhattan and Director of Special Events for the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival.
In 1986, Ann moved to Asheville, NC, and was the editor of Fiberarts Magazine for 10 years. Later she guest curated major contemporary art exhibitions for the Asheville Art Museum, served on several community boards, including the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, and was a program planning consultant for UNC Asheville’s Craft Studies Initiative.
Ann graduated from Kenyon College, has a master’s degree (MSW) in clinical psychotherapy from Simmons Graduate School in Boston, and, since 2004, has been studying and practicing mindfulness training. With her varied experiences in the arts, businesses, and education as an editor and writer, curator, director, exhibition juror, teacher, consultant and account executive, Ann learned to use her vision and skills to see a bigger picture and connect these different worlds.
David brings over 40 years of experience as an urban planner with expertise in land use, ordinance development, and community revitalization. From 2003 to 2009 he was the director of the Small Towns Revitalization program for HandMade in America. Prior to that, he was a senior planner with the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance for 30 years, working with counties and towns in western North Carolina. He participated in the National Main Street Program's original training program in 1981 and has been involved with downtown and community revitalization programs for 38 years in North Carolina and Florida.
A strong advocate for civic involvement, David has served on the board of the Asheville Downtown Association and as a member of numerous local and state preservation and downtown organizations. He was a member and chair of the Asheville Film Commission, participates in local community theatre productions, and was an extra in Last of the Mohicans, My Fellow Americans, and 28 Days.