Preserving Cultural Space in Metro Atlanta – Lunchtime Conversation

Produced by Generator + ARC’s Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta (ALMA) program

October 7, 2019 – 12:00-1:30PM
828 Ralph McGill Blvd. NE
Atlanta, GA 30306
(Where Ralph McGill crosses the Eastside Beltline)

Free registration required

As metro Atlanta becomes increasingly less affordable, what is the impact on cultural space? We know the arts creates both economic and social value for communities. What do we do now to ensure all future metro Atlantans have access to the arts where they live and work? How do we ensure artists and arts organizations have places to create and present their work?

This conversation will explore the needs for cultural space throughout metro Atlanta and the actions we can take now to preserve it for the future. We’ll discuss how we plan for cultural space regionally and locally and the roles for artists, governments, developers, nonprofits, and funders.

A panel of arts, business, and civic leaders will lead the conversation with attendees. Come participate in defining the issue/opportunity and helping plan a course forward.

The event is free, but registration is required to attend. You will need to bring your own lunch.

Neda Abghari, The Creatives Project
Cheneé Joseph, Historic District Development Corporation
Amanda Rhein, Atlanta Land Trust
Odetta MacLeish-White, TransFormation Alliance (moderator)


Neda Abghari
Founder and Director, The Creatives Project

Neda Abghari is a photographer, curator, and arts advocate native to Atlanta. Over the last two decades, she has used her experience in the arts, education, community, and commerce to connect, engage, and inform communities through the cultivation of strategic partnerships locally and nationally. In 2000, she began her career as an arts educator at North Springs High School, where she developed an award-winning Magnet Arts Program. Neda has created numerous art-based curriculums for clients such as Fulton County Board of Education, the Fulton County Arts Council, VSA Arts of Georgia, and the Georgia Department of Education. Abghari continues to guide the careers of emerging artists and educators through private portfolio and curriculum consultations. In 2011, with the support of Atlanta’s community at large, Neda founded The Creatives Project (TCP), and has served as executive director since. TCP’s award-winning residency and education programs have supported over 50 artists while impacting the lives of over 750 youth through arts mentorship and outreach. In 2019 alone, TCP will have acquired and assigned over 120,000 sf of spacial subsidies supporting Atlanta’s creative class.

Serving as a founding board member of ACT/ART, she has worked with The White House to bring contemporary art to the forefront of public policy. She is a member of the Fulton County Public Art Committee, a founding member of The Atlanta School for the Arts, and has participated in panels and lectures for The Georgia Department of Education, High Museum of Art, Emory University, The Atlanta Regional Commission, and The White House. As an arts consultant and curator, Neda has placed dozens of artists nationwide with commercial brands including the likes of Cuervo 1800, Bloomingdales, Details, AFROPUNK music festival, and SCOPE International Arts Fair.


Cheneé Joseph
Executive Director, Historic District Development Corporation
Cheneé Joseph is the Executive Director of the Historic District Development Corporation (HDDC) and theVice Chair of the Beltline Affordable Housing Advisory Board (BAHAB). The BAHAB provides guidance to Invest Atlanta and the City of Atlanta on the goals and policies related to the use of the BeltLine Affordable Housing Trust Fund and monitors the location and availability of affordable housing throughout the BeltLine.

Prior to these roles, Ms. Joseph served as senior manager at the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) and project consultant at Draper & Associates, where she managed budgets and schedules for various capital improvements and demolition projects totaling $17 million in the AHA’s portfolio.

Ms. Joseph received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Georgia State University and her master’s degree in building construction from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is committed to using her expertise and experience in real estate and construction to help revitalize the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District, block-by-block, to its former glory.


Amanda Rhein
Executive Director, Atlanta Land Trust
Amanda Rhein is Executive Director of the Atlanta Land Trust, a non-profit committed to creating and preserving housing in Atlanta that will remain affordable in perpetuity.

Prior to joining the Atlanta Land Trust Ms. Rhein led the transit oriented development (TOD) initiative at MARTA, the nation’s ninth-largest public transit system, resulting in the redevelopment of over 35 acres of underutilized surface parking at eight heavy rail stations. Ms. Rhein spent almost 10 years at Invest Atlanta, Atlanta’s Development Authority and the economic development agency for the City of Atlanta. While at Invest Atlanta, Ms. Rhein managed the City’s primary economic development tools which catalyzed over 30 projects, resulting in the investment of $3.5 billion in Atlanta’s most underserved communities.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Ms. Rhein graduated from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 2002. She earned a Master of City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2004.

Ms. Rhein is active in the Urban Land Institute where she is Chair of the Livable Communities Council and a member of the Atlanta District Council Advisory Board. During her tenure as the inaugural co-chair of the ULI Atlanta Center for Leadership, she designed and implemented an innovative leadership program for real estate professionals, which now serves as a national model.


Odetta MacLeish-White (Moderator)
Managing Director, TransFormation Alliance
Odetta MacLeish-White is the Managing Director of the TransFormation Alliance, a partnership of nonprofits, government agencies, and businesses working strengthen communities through transit.  TFA’s work is driven by racial equity and seeks to partner with residents of impacted communities in shaping better health, climate, and economic outcomes through arts & culture-based community engagement, and by improving housing, transit and jobs access.

Prior to joining the TransFormation Alliance, Odetta was a Senior Program Director with Enterprise Community Partners in their Southeast market. She supported comprehensive community stabilization efforts around the country with a focus on equitable Transit Oriented Development initiatives and nonprofit capacity building in the state of Georgia and the Southeast.

Odetta has also served as a community development specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, and was the staff director for Florida’s Affordable Housing Study Commission. She discovered her love for affordable housing while working for a developer in Gainesville, Florida. Odetta earned her juris doctorate and LLM in International Law from Duke University School of Law, and her bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature and Language from Harvard-Radcliffe University.

About Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta (ALMA)

Arts Leader of Metro Atlanta (ALMA) is the Atlanta Regional Commission’s annual leadership program. Each year 50 government, business, community, philanthropic and creative leaders meet over five days, January through May. As a cohort they learn about how arts and culture is integral part of metro Atlanta and the role it places in creating a thriving, inclusive, and economically healthy region. The leaders will explore how the arts play a role in addressing broader civic issues and how to become actively engaged in advocating for the arts. Applications for the 2020 class are due by October 18. Apply now!

About Generator

Founded by Ryan Gravel, the idea-guy behind the Atlanta Beltline, Generator’s mission is to bring people together to generate ideas that shape the future of cities. At Generator we know it takes more than a single person or idea to create lasting change—it takes a movement. When we come together to listen, learn, and collaborate, we open the door to unexpected connections, resources, and the human power to catalyze ideas into action. We’re committed to creating a space for social change where all people have a voice in working towards a shared vision for a better tomorrow.

Generator is located in the lower level of Telephone Factory Lofts at 828 Ralph McGill Blvd NE, Atlanta, GA 30306. Our entrance faces the Atlanta Beltline and street parking is available along Ralph McGill. Please note, we currently are not wheelchair accessible.