Piedmont Park Conservancy Names Doug Widener Chief Executive Officer

The Piedmont Park Conservancy Board of Directors has appointed Doug Widener as the nonprofit’s new Chief Executive Officer. As the Executive Director of the Lincoln Park Conservancy (LPC) in Chicago, Widener’s nearly three decades of experience across nonprofit leadership, community building and sustainable practices will further the Conservancy’s vital mission of ensuring park access for all across metro-Atlanta.

The Piedmont Park Conservancy began an extensive national search in 2022 across more than 20 states following the retirement announcement of former Piedmont Park Conservancy CEO Mark Banta last July. Banta served in the position for nine years and will transition leadership to Widener this fall. In addition to his transformative work to revitalize an iconic Chicago landmark, Widener has also left a lasting impact on the field of sustainability through his leadership roles at the U.S. Green Building Council, where he advocated for environmentally conscious practices in various state, regional and national positions. Widener hopes to expand upon his dedication to nurturing a deeper appreciation of the natural environment – a passion born from his background in educational programming at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum as well as time spent as co-chairman of education and communication at the Chicago Wilderness Alliance.

“I’m thrilled to join the Piedmont Park Conservancy. I believe that parks and open spaces are vital to help us connect with each other, disconnect from the hustle of urban life and recharge our bodies and our beings,” explained Widener. “The Piedmont Park Conservancy plays a vital role in stewarding this wonderful resource for all Atlantans. I look forward to working with our great Board, donors, partners, staff and community in charting a vision for the Park as a world- class destination…for now and generations to come.

“We are at an exciting juncture in our partnership with the City of Atlanta. Doug’s joy for his work, combined with his talent for connecting and collaborating strategically with others, inspires our confidence in his ability to continue leading our beloved Piedmont Park into a promising future,” says Ellen Sacchi, Piedmont Park Conservancy’s Board Chair. “His leadership and commitment to community engagement make him a perfect fit to drive our organizations mission forward.”

In partnership with BoardWalk Consulting, a national firm based in Atlanta, the Piedmont Park Conservancy Board Search Committee conducted a national search for a new Chief Executive Officer. Widener’s arrival ensures a future of enduring strength for the Conservancy.

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The Piedmont Park Conservancy is a member and donor funded nonprofit working in partnership with the City of Atlanta to maintain and enhance historic Piedmont Park. Founded in 1989, the Conservancy raises over $5 million each year to enhance and maintain the park.

 

For More Information:
Sara Barksdale
BRAVE Public Relations
404.213.8346
[email protected]

5 Things to Consider Before Booking Your Venue at Piedmont Park

 

Whether you are hosting a corporate event or planning your wedding, figuring out which event space to book is an important and exciting decision. 

Here are five key things to consider before booking a venue at Piedmont Park: 

Cost: The cost of renting an event space is a critical factor to consider. You need to ensure that the price is within your budget. At Piedmont Park, we have four different locations varying in price points. 

Capacity: The next thing you should consider when booking an event space is the capacity. You need to have a rough idea of the number of guests you expect and ensure the venue can comfortably accommodate that number of people. Ensure the space is manageable for the expected attendees. 

Date: Piedmont Park is beautiful year-round. With our breathtaking views of the Atlanta skyline and surrounding landscapes, this urban park offers a serene and picturesque setting for any events, indoor or outdoor. 

What’s Included: Piedmont Park venues include tables and chairs. We offer several preferred catering partners that deliver exceptional food and service. We also have a list of suggested vendors that make everything from event planning to equipment rentals easy to plan for a successful event. Before booking, check what amenities are included in the venue you are interested in. 

Location: A clear idea of your event needs will help you narrow your venue options and find the perfect space. Piedmont Park offers a variety of event spaces ranging from small intimate settings to large open spaces. With four exclusive venues to choose from, your guest will enjoy the beautiful and historical park setting placed among the cityscape of Atlanta. 

By considering these five key factors, you can ensure that the event space you choose will be perfect for your needs and help make your day memorable and special. We look forward to hosting your next event!

Piedmont Park Conservancy and Atlanta City Council honor CEO Mark Banta at This Year’s Landmark Luncheon

On Thursday, April 27, almost 500 people were on hand as Piedmont Park Conservancy hosted its annual Landmark Luncheon, honoring Mark Banta, its retiring Chief Executive Officer, with the Legacy Award sponsored by Delta Air Lines. This signature fundraising event is critical to sustaining the funds needed to keep Piedmont Park clean, green, and active all year long.

Banta was recognized for his years of leadership and impact on the Conservancy over the past decade.  He also received a proclamation from the Atlanta City Council in honor of his career, tirelessly working on behalf of the greenspace community.

The City of Atlanta’s Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner, Justin Cutler, joined the Landmark Luncheon as its special guest speaker. Cutler spoke about the goals of the Department of Parks and Recreation, importance of the Conservancy and how Piedmont Park is a great example of a Park for all.

The Conservancy also announced an inclusive playground it is working to fund upon Banta’s retirement later this year.

“By creating a space where all kids can play together, regardless of their abilities, we promote understanding, respect, and empathy among children and the wider community,” said Mark Banta.

The reception was sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, Cox Enterprises, and The Home Depot Foundation. The event was hosted by Channel 2’s Lori Wilson.

Donate to the Inclusive Playground Fund Here.

To learn more about Piedmont Park Conservancy, visit piedmontpark.org.

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The Piedmont Park Conservancy is a member and donor funded nonprofit working in partnership with the City of Atlanta to maintain and enhance historic Piedmont Park. Founded in 1989, the Conservancy raises over $5 million each year to enhance and maintain the park. Today, the Conservancy manages over 90% of the overall maintenance and security of Piedmont Park.

Contact: Courtney Bugler
Piedmont Park Conservancy
E: [email protected]
P: (404) 875-7275, ext. 223

 

PIEDMONT PARK CONSERVANCY CEO MARK BANTA ANNOUNCES INTENT TO RETIRE IN 2023

Piedmont Park Conservancy announced Thursday that the nonprofit organization’s Chief Executive Officer, Mark Banta, will be retiring in 2023, upon the selection of and transition to his successor. Mark has served as CEO for eight years after a long career in operations at nationally recognized parks and greenspaces, including 16 years as the general manager of Centennial Olympic Park from 1996 to 2012.

“The Piedmont Park Conservancy continues to be very grateful for Mark’s leadership,” Ellen Sacchi, the Conservancy’s Board Chair said. “Mark has made a notable impact during his time of service, and I know we will all continue to see the significance of his work at Piedmont Park for years to come.”

“Leading the Piedmont Park Conservancy has truly been the highlight of my professional career. I’m honored to have led the amazing team here at PPC who are ready to take on the next opportunities and challenges and I look forward to helping the board position the next CEO for success,” said Mark Banta.

Mark joined the Conservancy staff as Chief Operating Officer in 2014 and was promoted shortly thereafter to CEO. Under his leadership, the Conservancy’s annual budget increased to over $4.5 million, an operating reserve was established that enabled the organization to weather the pandemic successfully and the Park’s visitation grew to about six million annual visitors.

The Board of Directors will oversee the process to choose Mark’s successor and has selected BoardWalk Consulting to conduct a national search for a new CEO. After his successor is in place and a transition period in early 2023, Mark will serve in a consulting role to the new CEO.

To learn more about Piedmont Park Conservancy, click here.

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The Piedmont Park Conservancy is a member and donor funded nonprofit organization working in partnership with the City of Atlanta to maintain and enhance historic Piedmont Park. Founded in 1989, the Conservancy raises over $4 million annually to enhance and maintain the Park. Today, the Conservancy manages over 90% of the overall maintenance and security of Piedmont Park.

Contact: Courtney Bugler
Piedmont Park Conservancy
E: [email protected]
P: (404) 875-7275, ext. 223

 

Piedmont Park Conservancy Raises Over $400,000 at Landmark Luncheon’s 25th Anniversary

Returning to pre-pandemic levels, 475 Atlantans supported Landmark Luncheon on Thursday, April 28 which raised approximately $400,000 for Piedmont Park Conservancy. Piedmont Park attracts almost 6 million visitors and the Conservancy is responsible for 95% of daily operations. With a renewed appreciation for greenspace, events like Landmark Luncheon are critical to sustaining the funds needed to keep Piedmont Park clean, green and active all year long. 

Norfolk Southern CEO James (Jim) Squires and Karen Jones Squires chaired this year’s Landmark Luncheon, and recently gave a transformational unrestricted gift to the Conservancy. The collective impact of the luncheon raising $400,000 in addition to the Squires’ personal gift makes this year’s Landmark Luncheon the most successful fundraiser in Piedmont Park Conservancy’s history. Norfolk Southern was this year’s Presenting Sponsor.

Northside Hospital was honored with the Green Giant Award for their ongoing partnership with Piedmont Park Conservancy and for their community impact as healthcare workers during the peak of the pandemic. The Green Giant Award was sponsored by Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. Also, John Izard, Jr. was presented with the Legacy Award for his influence on Piedmont Park including the 53-acre expansion and past Board leadership. The Legacy Award was sponsored by Delta.

Other generous support includes Anniversary Sponsors Coca-Cola Company and Cox Enterprises. The event was hosted by Channel 2’s Justin Farmer.

To learn more about Piedmont Park Conservancy, click here.

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The Piedmont Park Conservancy is a member and donor funded nonprofit organization working in partnership with the City of Atlanta to maintain and enhance historic Piedmont Park. Founded in 1989, the Conservancy raises over $3.5 million annually to enhance and maintain the Park. Today, the Conservancy manages over 90% of the overall maintenance and security of Piedmont Park.

Contact: Courtney Bugler
Piedmont Park Conservancy
E: [email protected]
P: (404) 875-7275, ext. 223

Landmark Luncheon

Piedmont Park Conservancy Guests of Landmark Luncheon

Piedmont Park Conservancy Landmark Luncheon Event Chairs Karen Jones Squires and Jim Squires with their daughter Maggie Squires (Left to right)

Piedmont Park Conservancy Landmark Luncheon Event Chairs Karen Jones Squires and Jim Squires with their daughter Maggie Squires (Left to right)

Northside Hospital Receives the 2022 Green Giant Award from Piedmont Park Conservancy. Pictured: Northside Hospital Director of Emergency Services Chris Munn and Piedmont Park Conservancy Board Chair Ellen Sacchi.

Northside Hospital Receives the 2022 Green Giant Award from Piedmont Park Conservancy. Pictured: Northside Hospital Director of Emergency Services Chris Munn and Piedmont Park Conservancy Board Chair Ellen Sacchi.

John Izard, Jr. Receives the 2022 Legacy Award from Piedmont Park Conservancy. Pictured: John Izard, Jr. and Piedmont Park Conservancy President & CEO Mark Banta.

John Izard, Jr. Receives the 2022 Legacy Award from Piedmont Park Conservancy. Pictured: John Izard, Jr. and Piedmont Park Conservancy President & CEO Mark Banta.

Piedmont Park Conservancy Board Member Tony Hilliard Speaks to Landmark Luncheon Attendees About the Importance of Piedmont Park and the Conservancy.

Piedmont Park Conservancy Board Member Tony Hilliard Speaks to Landmark Luncheon Attendees About the Importance of Piedmont Park and the Conservancy.

Piedmont Park Conservancy Landmark Luncheon Event Committee: (Left to right) Donna Barwick, Sheryl Meddin, Jan Harralson, Mark Banta, Wick Garrard, Holly B. Stevens

Piedmont Park Conservancy Landmark Luncheon Event Committee: (Left to right) Donna Barwick, Sheryl Meddin, Jan Harralson, Mark Banta, Wick Garrard, Holly B. Stevens

Piedmont Park’s Green Market Now Accepts EBT

We are excited to announce the return of Green Market to Piedmont Park on Saturdays from 9am – 1pm. Green Market encourages sustainable communities in the most basic way – by providing shoppers with direct access to local farmers and small businesses. Enjoy seasonal produce, prepared foods, baked goods, bath and body products, locally made dog food and treats, and more.

New this year – Green Market now accepts EBT! Piedmont Park Conservancy is partnering with Wholesome Wave Georgia to offer Georgia Fresh For Less – a program that doubles these benefits for market fresh fruits and vegetables! How does it work? Bring your EBT Card to the Green Market. Swipe your card for the amount you choose and we’ll match your EBT dollars, dollar-for-dollar, with free tokens for fruits and vegetables.

Come walk the market and enjoy the fun every Saturday from March through December.

WHAT: Green Market Opening Day and Announcing New EBT Program

WHO: Vendors are available for interviews, as well as the Green Market Manager Matthew Bagshaw and the Director of Communications Amy Han Risher. Topics can include the market itself, importance of farmers market, how the market enhances Piedmont Park and/or the details about the new EBT program. If you plan on attending, call or text Amy 912-690-7109 to facilitate.

WHEN: Saturday, March 26, 2022 at 9 am – 1pm.

WHERE: Piedmont Park – 12th Street and Piedmont Avenue Gate.

DETAILS: Green Market Webpage

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The Piedmont Park Conservancy is a member and donor funded nonprofit organization working in partnership with the City of Atlanta to maintain and enhance historic Piedmont Park. Founded in 1989, the Conservancy raises over $3.5 million annually to enhance and maintain the Park. Today, the Conservancy manages over 90% of the overall maintenance and security of Piedmont Park.

Media Contact: Amy Han Risher
Director of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations
Piedmont Park Conservancy
E: [email protected]
P: (404) 480-3758

Atlanta Greek Event Blog Pumpkin

Atlanta Greek Events in Piedmont Park

Planning your Atlanta Greek event is both exciting and a lot of work. Take the pressure off and come host your event in Piedmont Park. The Piedmont Park Conservancy can work with you to create an event that is sure to impress your guests. 

Atlanta’s Most Popular Attraction for Your Sorority or Fraternity Formal

Piedmont Park is Atlanta’s green heart and attracts more than 6 million visitors annually, which is more than any other Atlanta destination! Your brothers and sisters are sure to know and love beautiful Piedmont Park. Imagine hosting your event amongst a beautiful skyline and lush greenery, all in the most central location in the city. Your friends and alumni are likely to have a story, memory or special occasion in this historical space.

Atlanta Greek Event Blog

Four Flexible Venues for Your Spring or Winter Greek Formals and Events

Whether you are planning greek formals, fraternity-sorority mixers, alumni networking events, semi-formal, date nights, or theme parties, Piedmont Park has a venue for you. Magnolia Hall offers a beautiful interior space with an adjacent green lawn right. Greystone handles larger crowds and overlooks beautiful Lake Clara Meer and the pool. Dockside sits on a beautiful lake dock with a beautiful patio and an interior space for your catering and meals. The Promenade is an outdoor lawn that is perfect for sports events, carnivals, luaus, al fresco dining, outdoor concerts and more. Plus, the venue is dog friendly! Add on to your event with golf carts, games or an activity on the Active Oval. 

Atlanta Greek Event Blog Pumpkin

Questions About Your Next Atlanta Greek Event?

Our team is ready to assist you in planning your next collegiate event. Click here to learn more about our venues or call or email (404.537.2831 / [email protected]) to get the conversation started. 

Blog - Olmsted and Piedmont Park

Olmsted and Piedmont Park History

Here are five fun facts about the Olmsted family and its influence on Piedmont Park.

  • Frederick Law Olmsted was the co-designer and builder of Central Park.  He was the foremost Landscape Architect of the last half of the 1800’s and did many major commissions including the grounds of the US Capitol, the 1893 Columbian Expo in Chicago (setting of Devil in the White City) and the grounds of Biltmore House in Asheville. Other prominent projects include Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, and the campuses of Wellesley, Smith, and Stanford.  He was an early voice for conservation and contributed to the plans for Niagara Falls and Yosemite.
  • Olmsted designed the Druid Hills neighborhood in Atlanta and the Linear Parks along Ponce still maintain his plan.  While in Atlanta in 1894, Olmsted consulted with the planners of the Cotton States Expo. (Landscape Architect Grant Wilkins is credited with the design as built.)
  • The city of Atlanta purchased the derelict Expo grounds for a city park in 1904. In 1911, the city hired Olmsted’s sons to draw up a master plan for Piedmont Park.  Their firm wasn’t hired to build the plan, but much of the Olmsted Brothers’ design was implemented through the years, including the Park Drive Bridge of 1916, and it heavily influenced the Master Plan approved in 1993.
1912 Olmsted Plan

Olmsted Brothers’ 1912 Piedmont Park Master Plan

  • Olmsted principles of park design can be seen in Piedmont Park’s meandering roads and paths which curve and cross each other, making triangles.  The winding walks and changes of elevation provide interest with ever-changing views.  Wide open fields are interspersed with trees, lakes and natural plantings.  Different areas of the park host varieties of activities. Olmsted’s ideas continue to be highly influential.  He has been called the Father of Landscape Architecture.
  • Olmsted’s scenic, relaxed pastoral style made the enjoyment of nature a benefit available to everyone and a respite from the stresses of city life.  Olmsted believed in parks as a social good providing relaxation and improved health for people of all levels of education and income. (Compare to parks with straight paths and formal gardens, originally available  only to the wealthy, showing dominance over nature.)

Parks are the only places where vast numbers of persons are brought closely together, poor and rich, young and old, each individual adding by his mere presence to the pleasure of others.

– Frederick Law Olmsted, 1870

This quote is engraved in one of the blocks in the horseshoe-shaped donor monument in front of Dockside (historically known as the Visitor Center, Ladies’ Comfort Station).

Author: Ginny Connelly, Piedmont Park Conservancy Docent

Want to learn more about Piedmont Park’s history? Join us for a tour which features Olmsted’s influence and many other stories along the years. Tour Webpage

In March and April of 2022, Piedmont Park Conservancy is a proud partner of the #Olmsted200 Celebration and will be offering guided history tours focused on Olmsted’s influence. Learn more at Olmsted200.org.

Piedmont Park Conservancy Welcomes 2022 New Board Members

The Piedmont Park Conservancy welcomes four new members to their board of directors: Louisa Basarrate, Chris Buettner of Cox Enterprises, Allen Roberson of Sage and James A. Squires of Norfolk Southern Corporation.

The Conservancy looks forward to working with these new board members to keep Piedmont Park thriving for the Atlanta community.

Biographies:

Louisa Basarrate

After a 20+ year career in non-profit development, marketing and management, followed by time as a stay-at-home mom, Louisa Basarrate currently volunteers and enjoys living in both Atlanta and San Francisco. She is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. Louisa is married to Armando Basarrate and the mother of Sophie Basarrate (23).

Louisa achieved designation as a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) for accomplishments in professional practice, education and community service. Her previous organizations included Atlanta Speech School, Shepherd Center, Jerusalem House, AID Atlanta and SunTrust Bank.

She is engaged in her local communities including cultural organizations such as: Open Hand Atlanta, San Francisco Ballet, High Museum, Metropolitan Museum, DeYoung/Legion of Honor, Atlanta Botanical Garden, and Atlanta Ballet.

Chris Buettner

After a career on the digital agency side that spanned 20+ years, Chris Buettner now leads the Marketing and Brand team at Cox Enterprises, working on a broad range of initiatives from employment brand efforts to attract top talent to the company’s diverse family of brands to marketing strategy for new business focus areas like Cox Cleantech.

In his current role, he is also helping to bring Cox’s social impact vision to life of positively impacting 34 million lives by 2034, an initiative that allows him to combine many of his personal passions in areas such as education and environmental stewardship.

Prior to Cox, he led an international network of top digital marketing agencies focused on the future of marketing and digital experiences, expanding the international reach of the organization from 15 to 42 countries in five years. Chris lives in Decatur with his wife and two daughters – both of whom are proud alums of the Piedmont Park Conservancy’s summer camps.

Allen Roberson

Allen Roberson recently joined Sage as the Finance Director in November of 2021. Prior to Sage, Allen worked at International Hotel Group (IHG) for 15 years where he served as Head of Finance & Business Partnering; Commercial & Technology Products and Platforms. Allen also worked with IBM as a Corporate Internal Auditor and Sales & Distribution Financial Analyst.

Mr. Roberson possesses demonstrated passion for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) through Community Partnership Committee leadership with the Black Employee Resource Group (ERG) and active member of the Out & Open LGBTQ+ ERG. He implemented blind resume reviews and diverse interview panels into the function’s recruiting process to improve the diversity of candidate interview slates.

Mr. Roberson currently serves as a valued member of Piedmont Park Conservancy’s Finance Committee.

James A. Squires

Jim Squires is chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC), a FORTUNE 500 transportation company whose railroad operates across 19,500 miles in 22 states, connecting businesses and communities to the marketplaces of the world.

Jim joined Norfolk Southern’s Law Department in 1992 and has held roles of increasing responsibility. They include vice president law; senior vice president law; senior vice president financial planning; executive vice president finance and chief financial officer; and executive vice president administration. Jim became president of the company in 2013 and was named chairman and CEO in 2015.

A native of Hollis, New Hampshire, Jim is a 1983 graduate of Amherst College and was an Amherst-Doshisha Fellow at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. He earned his J.D. degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where he has served as a member of the Visiting Committee. He is a proud veteran of the U.S. Army.

Currently serving as chair of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation, Jim also has served as chair of the Association of American Railroads, as a board member of the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as a trustee of the Sentara Healthcare System, and as chairman of Virginia’s Transportation Accountability Commission.

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The Piedmont Park Conservancy is a member and donor funded nonprofit organization working in partnership with the City of Atlanta to maintain and enhance historic Piedmont Park. Founded in 1989, the Conservancy raises over $3.5 million annually to enhance and maintain the Park. Today, the Conservancy manages over 90% of the overall maintenance and security of Piedmont Park.

Media Contact: Amy Han Risher
Director of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations
Piedmont Park Conservancy
E: [email protected]
P: (404) 480-3758