Active Commission Members

Andrew Salinas – Chair

Andrew brings to ACAC a background in public humanities and nonprofit management and has worked on public history projects for the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, and Tennessee Valley Authority. Andrew has an MA in Folklore and Literature from The Ohio State University. He moved to Athens to pursue an MBA in 2014 after working at the Amistad Research Center, a hybrid archive/library/museum in New Orleans documenting the ethnic American experience. He works in the Terry College of Business at UGA and is on the board of the Athens Latino Center. Andrew and his cats like to collect vernacular art from the Deep South, and he enjoys trail running and working with his hands.

Holly J. Alderman, Vice Chair

Holly has been active in arts programs throughout her lifetime. She served on the Athens Public Art Task Force in 2010 to design the public art policy. She also helped develop an inventory of local public art.

Linda Ford

Linda is a graduate of the University of Georgia. She was elected an Athens-Clark County Commissioner in 1999 and was Mayor Pro-tem in 2001. She has served on various boards, including the Classic Center Cultural Foundation, the Citizens SPLOST advisory committee, Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build, the Georgia Federation of Women’s Club, and the Classic Center Authority. She co-chaired the “We Let the Dawgs Out” public art project, which continues to bring Athens artists and businesses together to benefit non-profit organizations. Linda currently is a business analyst and trainer for PCC Technology Group, a software development company.

Laura Hoffman

Laura brings to ACAC her experience as an artist (dance, film, theater), producer, fine arts administrator, development officer, dance movement therapist, and graduate of the UGA Landscape Architecture MA program. She’s lived in Athens 14 years; longer than any of her other many locations including NYC, LA, Chicago, Santa Fe, Brattleboro, VT. Her diverse background reveals a dedication to personal and community expression via the arts, and the built environment.

Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor

Cahnmann-Taylor is an award winning professor of TESOL and World Language Education in the Department of Language and Literacy Education. She has published and co-authored two books in education. Her numerous poems, essays, and articles about language learning have appeared in the Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Women’s Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, Barrow Street, Puerto Del Sol, Mom Egg, Anthropology and Humanism, Language Arts, TESOL Journal, and many other literary and scholarly homes. She publishes Misha’s Poetry Cast and runs an annual “Seat in the Shade” poetry series in Athens, Georgia. She aims to raise two Spanish-English bilingual-bicultural children and to enhance Americans’ access to world languages, creative literacies, and multicultural humilities.

Helen Kuykendall

Helen relocated to Athens in 2009 from Denver, Colorado after working for over 20 years as a landscape architect specializing in park planning for the National Park Service and the City of Denver Parks and Recreation. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin (BS) and the University of Colorado (MLA), she has gradually over the years shifted focus from science and environmental planning towards garden history, yoga, painting and photography. Art has always been a part of her life, collecting, making and appreciating. She strives to make art part of daily living.

Melissa Lee, Secretary

Melissa is an alumna of the University of Georgia and Florida State University with degrees in painting and nonprofit arts administration. She returned to Athens in 2015 having gained experience with mural projects, museums, and arts organizations. Professionally, Melissa works in donor relations at the UGA Foundation, but she continues to exhibit paintings at local venues. When she is not working or in the studio, she can be found enjoying the Athens community with her puppy, Hubble, and bluegrass picking boyfriend, Dan.

Grace Huang

Grace is a classical pianist, educator, and advocate for the performing arts. She holds degrees in piano performance from Vanderbilt University (B.M.) and the University of Minnesota (M.M., D.M.A.). She has taught on several pre-college and college music faculties, most recently at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and was also on the faculty of summer programs such as Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and University of Illinois Summer Youth Music program. She has been a member of Music Teachers National Association since 2005 and continues to serve in various community engagement, professional development, and arts education roles for local and state chapters of MTNA. Grace currently owns and operates an independent piano studio in Athens, where she teaches students of all ages and ability levels. 

Beatrice Brown

Beatrice Brown is a consultant with a background in science and social justice. As a biochemist and medical researcher in the field of cancer diagnostics, Beatrice traveled nationally and internationally teaching state-of-the art diagnostic, and biotechnology practices. She is a certified facilitator with the National Coalition Building Institute of Washington, DC. Beatrice is an affiliate at the Intercultural Communication Institute in Portland, Oregon. Her expertise includes facilitation, mediation, interactive learning, training games and simulations, and controversial issues process. Beatrice holds a BFA in fashion and design, BS in Biochemistry, and a Ph.D in Immunology, Cell Pathology and DNA repair. As a consultant, she has helped hundreds of organizations, teams and individuals be more productive, creative and inclusive.

Deborah Gonzalez

Deborah Gonzalez, Esq. is a former Georgia state representative (HD117), attorney, and arts advocate. She has spent many years promoting and protecting the work of artists and art collectors, museums and community arts organizations. Understanding that there is a need for artists to understand how to monetize their work, and for the public at large to appreciate the work by sustaining artists by purchasing their work, Deborah collaborated with Art is King in Atlanta to create a 6 month program called “The League of Art Entrepreneurs.” Deborah looks forward to working with the ACAC to help its achieve its mission of providing resources and opportunities for artists to beautify our beloved county.

Darcie St Onge

Darcie St. Onge is a former public school educator and the current Financial Manager at CLOTH & KIND, a nationally recognized residential and commercial interior design studio based in Athens, GA and Ann Arbor, MI. As a mother of three and a native Athenian, Darcie loves sharing the Athens experiences she remembers as a child with her own children, along with exploring new opportunities currently available. Darcie is excited to be part of a team that showcases local artists and works to creates spaces that encourage questions, imagination and communication amongst all members of the Athens community.St. Onge will serve as the Commission’s treasurer.

Liaisons, Advisors and Staff

Marilyn Wolf-Ragatz, Advisor and Founding ACAC Chair
Marc Beechuk, Advisor and former ACAC Chair
Stephanie Raines, Leisure Services Arts Administrator and Liaison 
Didi Dunphy, Advisor and Leisure Services Liaison 
Tatiana Veneruso, Advisor and former Public Art Coordinator