By David Pendered
Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed nine members to the under-represented board that oversees the redevelopment of Fort McPherson, including seven new members and two current members whom Deal reappointed. The seven new members include the spouse of an influential state senator, a Fulton County commissioner, a veteran housing executive and the Atlanta mayor’s chief of staff.
Despite the board’s scant membership, the board is actively involved in developing the portion of the former military installation that was not purchased by filmmaker Tyler Perry. Perry intends to build a film studio on his property.
Two current projects include overseeing the rezoning request pending before the City of Atlanta, a proposal that this month is being considered by the three relevant Neighborhood Planning Units; and the Oct. 3 approval by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners to provide a $1 million grant that’s to match a proposed $3.5 million state grant to build the planned Fort Mac LRA Job and Career Center.
The board currently has four members, according to a report on the website of the Fort McPherson Implementing Local Redevelopment Authority.
The board is authorized to have from 11 to 15 members, according to the state legislation that established the authority. The board has 11 members following the governor’s recent appointments.
Membership has dwindled over the years since the board was involved in the hotly contested sale of land to Perry. Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed strongly encouraged the board to sell Perry the land he wanted.
Deal’s appointments did not mention two other existing board members, who may have time remaining on their current four-year appointments. These two members are Richard Holmes, elected by the board to serve as vice chairman (the list of board members does not name a chair, a position appointed by the governor); and Aaron Watson.
Nor did Deal’s letter mention the eight non-voting members, who serve by virtue of their office or appointment by their colleagues in elected office.
The law that established the board says the governor is to appoint members from a list of nominees, “submitted by the governing authorities of any county and the mayor of any municipality in which Fort McPherson is located and the mayor of any municipality which abuts Fort McPherson.”
The members recently appointed by Deal are:
- Shuntel Beach, spouse of state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta). Deal’s statement observes Shuntel Beach is “the director of admissions at King’s Ridge Christian School. She is a member of the Cherokee County Educational Foundation and the Alpharetta Recreation and Parks Commission. Beach earned a bachelor’s degree from Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Kennesaw State University. She and her husband, Brandon, have two children and one grandchild. They live in Alpharetta.”
- Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann. Deal’s statement observes, “She is also the vice chair of the Atlanta/Fulton County Water Resources Commission. Hausmann is a member of the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding, the Governor’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Community Resources Committee. She sits on the WellStar North Fulton Regional Health Board, the board of directors for the Fulton Education Foundation the Fulton County Retirement Board. Hausmann is a graduate of the Regional Leadership Institute. She has two children and two grandchildren. Hausmann resides in Johns Creek.”
Ernestine Garey, senior advisor to the CEO of the Atlanta Housing Authority and former vice president and COO of Invest Atlanta. Deal’s statement observes, “Garey is the president emeritus of the board of directors for the National Association of Local Housing Finance Agencies and the chairman of the board for the Diabetes Association of Atlanta. She sits on the board for HomeFirst Community Oversight and the boards of directors for the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. and Atlanta Emerging Markets Inc. Garey is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta. She is a National Development Council (NDC) certified housing development finance professional and an NDC certified economic development finance professional. Garey earned a bachelor’s degree in French from Clark College and a master’s degree in French from Clark Atlanta University. She has two children and lives in Atlanta.”
Marva Lewis, chief of staff for Atlanta Mayor Kiesha Lance Bottoms. Deal’s statement observes, “She was previously the vice president of human resources for Cousins Properties. Lewis sits on the board of directors for the American Red Cross of Metropolitan Atlanta and is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Francis Marion University and a master’s degree in Human Resources from Central Michigan University. Lewis and her husband, Pascal, have three children and live in Atlanta.”
- Cassius F. Butts, described by Deal’s statement as “the founder and chairman of Capital Fortitude Business Advisors. He was previously the regional administrator of Region IV for the U.S. Small Business Administration. Butts was also a presidential management fellow with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He recently completed a two-year appointment as an executive in residence at Georgia State University’s J. Mack Robinson College of Business. Butts is a graduate of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Emory University. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Clark Atlanta University. Butts lives in Atlanta.”
- Jeremy Farmer, described by Deal’s statement as, “an intellectual property and real estate attorney with more than 10 years of experience in monetizing intellectual assets and closing complex real estate transactions. He is a member of the East Point Downtown Development Authority. Farmer earned a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Middle Tennessee State University, a master’s degree in Management from Colorado Technical University and a law degree from John Marshall Law School. Farmer and his wife, Katrina, have four children and reside in Atlanta.”
- Lisa J. Smith, described by Deal’s statement as, “the regional director for Georgia Power’s Metro South Region. She sits on the boards of directors for the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance, Arts Clayton, the Fayette Chamber of Commerce, the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc. Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Kennesaw State University. She and her husband, Derick, have one child and live in Newnan.”
The two members reappointed by the governor are:
- Fulton County Commissioner Marvin S. Arrington, Jr., described by Deal’s statement as, “an attorney and represents District 5 on the Fulton County Board of Commissioners. He is the southeastern regional director for the National Organization of Black County Officials and the vice chairman of the board of directors for the Atlanta Fulton County Recreation Authority. Arrington also sits on the board of directors for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia. He is a member of Georgia Association of Black County Officials, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, and the Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee and the Arts and Culture Commission for the National Association of Counties. Arrington earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia and a law degree from Emory University School of Law. He has four children and resides in Atlanta.”
- Sondra Rhoades-Johnson, described by Deal’s statement as, “founder and principal of Rhoades Strategies Consulting. She previously served as the Fulton County Tax Commissioner and as the chief planning officer of IT Strategic Planning for the Georgia Technology Authority. Rhoades-Johnson is a member of the AARP Georgia Executive Council. She is a graduate of Leadership Atlanta, Leadership Georgia, Leadership America and the Atlanta Regional Commission’s Regional Leadership Institute. Rhoades-Johnson earned a bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Clark Atlanta University. She and her husband, Charles, have four children and six grandchildren. They reside in East Point.”