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Noel Barnes named new CFO of Woodruff Arts Center

By Maria Saporta

The Woodruff Arts Center has named a new chief financial officer — Noel M. Barnes. The announcement was made Monday by Virginia Hepner, president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center.

Barnes most recently served as the chief administrative officer for Edge Capital Partners LLC in Atlanta. Edge provides investment advisory and banking services to individuals, foundations and corporate clients.

Prior to that role, Mr. Barnes served as chief financial officer for Rotunda Corp. (formerly EzGov Inc), a software solutions company that provides software and professional services to federal, state and local governments. He began his finance career as an auditor with Arthur Andersen in Atlanta.

Barnes has degrees from the University of Georgia and Georgia State University in economics and accounting respectively and is a regular patron of the Woodruff Arts Center.

Last year, the Woodruff Arts Center disclosed that it had been a victim of fraud from an employee within the organization.

In April, Ralph Clark, who began working at the Center in 2004, pleaded guilty to having embezzled $1.1 million from the arts organization. He had first begun working at the Center as a heating and air conditioning mechanic and then he had been promoted to a position where he could defraud the Center through issuing invoices.

The announcement from the Woodruff Arts Center did not address whether the naming of Barnes was related to the incidence of fraud or the organization’s internal accounting controls, but spokesman Randy Donaldson said the two were not connected.

Donaldson also said that Stephen Merz, who had been the Center’s chief financial officer since 2001, retired last year after 32 years with the organization.

“Noel is a wonderful addition to the Woodruff leadership team,” Hepner said. “He has demonstrated his ability to create strong and efficient operating environments in his past roles, and has a strong focus on controls and teambuilding. He will bring those strengths to the Woodruff as we continue to build our management capability in support of the great art of the Center.”

Barnes joins Janine Musholt, vice president of advancement, and Ed Brownlee, director of facilities, as new members of the senior leadership team of the Woodruff Arts Center.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to join Virginia and the leadership team at the Woodruff Arts Center and to build upon the center’s history as a beacon of excellence in the arts,” Barnes said in the release. “I look forward to working with them to support that great legacy.”

Hepner became president and CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center on July 1, 2012.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Burroughston Broch July 16, 2013 1:58 pm

    Hopefully Mr. Barnes will mind the store better than his predecessor Mr. Merz. He should focus only on WAC; his predecessor Mr. Merz ran a consulting business on the side since 2007.Report

  2. hatetheives August 20, 2013 1:00 pm

    I’m curious as to what the sentence for Ralph Clark was. His guilty plea got a lot of media coverage, but his sentencing was August 7th and appears to be shrouded in secrecy.Report

    1. Burroughston Broch August 21, 2013 7:52 am

      Curiously quiet. I emailed the FBI to inquire. Will post their response after receipt.Report

    2. Burroughston Broch August 21, 2013 2:49 pm

      hatetheives Today the US Attorney’s office said the sentencing has not yet occurred. I asked when it was scheduled.Report

    3. Burroughston Broch August 21, 2013 9:42 pm

      hatetheivesThe sentencing hearing for Ralph Clark is scheduled for Friday, August 30, 2013, at 2:00 p.m. before Judge Julie E. Carnes.Report

  3. haganmasonry March 1, 2014 10:29 am

    hatetheives Right; as is his pic, hidden.Report

  4. Burroughston Broch March 2, 2014 3:18 pm

    haganmasonry As the Premier said to Sherlock Holmes in “The Adventure of the Second Stain”, ”
    “Come, sir,” said he. “There is more in this than meets the eye.”
    The WAC and their attorneys want this matter disposed of quietly behind closed doors so as not to embarrass the powerful, not reveal how shoddy are the WAC operations, and not reveal how poor stewards they are of their patron’s donations.http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/AdveSeco.shtml#topReport

  5. haganmasonry March 2, 2014 9:44 pm

    Burroughston Broch haganmasonry 
    Excellent reply, Sir; thanks! Exactly so.Report


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