Column: Atlanta Girls’ School getting new head — Ayanna Hill-Gill
By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on November 1, 2013
The Atlanta Girls’ School has named Ayanna Hill-Gill, currently head of the Purnell School in Pottersville, N.J., as its new head beginning July 1, 2014.
Hill-Gill has worked at Purnell in various positions for 19 years and served as its head of school since 2007. The all-girls boarding school serves about 100 students in the ninth to 12th grades.
In a telephone interview Oct. 29, Hill-Gill said that because the Atlanta Girls’ School already has such a strong curriculum, she would like for it to become better known nationally as a girls school of excellence. It teaches girls from the sixth to 12th grades, and it has an enrollment of nearly 225 students.
Hill-Gill said she was drawn to the “warmth and vibrancy” that she experienced at the Atlanta Girls’ School during a visit to Atlanta in 2009.
“You don’t see that at every school,” she said, adding that she began to explore possible opportunities because she felt as though it would be a good time in her career to make a change.
“One of the things that the founder of Purnell — Lytt Gould — said to me was: ‘Know when to leave the party, and leave when you’re having fun,’ ” said Hill-Gill, adding that Gould was headmaster for only 10 years.
Hill-Gill, who grew up in Philadelphia, said this will be her first time living outside of the Northeast. “I have no family ties to Atlanta,” she said. So she’s bringing her family with her — her husband, her two children and her parents, who have lived in Philadelphia for decades. “I love change. I’m always looking for something new, something different.”
Hill-Gill attended Dickinson College and has a graduate degree from Columbia University Teacher’s College with an emphasis on private school leadership.
In a letter to parents, students and friends, Hal Daniel, chair of the Atlanta Girls’ School, and Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, chair of the search committee, wrote: “Those of you who were able to meet Yanni when she was on campus already know of her enthusiasm, energy, and sense of humor. Those of you who have not yet met her will find her enthusiasm infectious.”
Another year Another record-setting goal. Bill Rogers, CEO of SunTrust Banks who is chairing the Woodruff Arts Center campaign this year, announced the goal at a breakfast Oct. 29 — a record $9.5 million.
For the campaign ending in May 2013, the center raised a record $9.2 million under the leadership of Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers.
“I can commit to you that we are going to meet that goal,” Rogers told a breakfast gathering of top donors.
Then speaking to the division heads present — Stanley Romanstein of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Susan Booth of the Alliance Theatre, Philip Verre of the High Museum of Art and Charisse Williams of Young Audiences, Rogers said: “We are not going to let you down.”
Virginia Hepner, president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center, said that 1.4 million people come to the art center’s campus each year — thanks to the generosity of private individuals, foundations and corporations. “Georgia ranks 50th in per capita public funding for the arts,” Hepner said. “It shows how important private philanthropy is for the arts.”
The $9.5 million corporate campaign is part of $32 million that the center will raise across its campus through its various divisions. Hepner said that 500 civic leaders serve on the boards of the center and the various divisions each year.
Rogers said he was comfortable with setting a record goal because of whatthe Woodruff Arts Center means to the community.
“Think about the challenge in which it was done last year,” he said. “We have a lot more momentum, and there’s a lot more stability in the economy.”
Delta’s Anderson honored
The honorary chair of the event is The Coca-Cola Co.’s CEO, Muhtar Kent; and the two dinner chairs are former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin (a Delta board member) and Doug Hertz of United Distributors.
“We feel privileged to honor Richard Anderson as this year’s recipient on the National Human Relations Award,” said Dov Wilker, AJC Atlanta’s director. “He is a very humble man who exemplifies what this award means.”
The American Jewish Committee has been presenting the National Human Relations Award for more than 30 years. The award is presented to leaders whose work within the community reflects its mission, building bridges of understanding among all people, safeguarding democracy and pluralism and combating all forms of bigotry. Wilker also said that AJC Atlanta has just hired a new regional director of development — Erica Rabhan.