We know that great parks exist through the efforts of leaders who nurture the bond between parks and communities. Park Pride’s Annual Inspiration Awards honor these leaders, whose efforts are invaluable to our collective intention to make all parks great parks, and to make them accessible to all Atlanta residents and visitors.
We are proud to recognize those who inspire others to expand and improve public parks and greenspaces, and raise awareness about the healing power of parks, so all communities have places to gather, play, reenergize, reflect on our history, and participate in creating a shared future.
Please help us congratulate this years winners!
Wayne Powell: Shoal Creek Park 1
Wayne Powell has been a steward of Shoal Creek Park 1 in DeKalb County for over 50 years. He embodies community connection and has used the park as a hub for many celebrations, bringing neighbors together for fun and friendship. He also maintains close ties with county leaders to ensure prompt care of all greenspaces in the Belvedere Park neighborhood. Wayne and a steering committee of community members are finalizing a Vision Plan for Shoal Creek Parks 1, 2, & 3. Reflecting on this process, which was guided by Park Pride’s Visioning team, Wayne offers some advice on community engagement that we want to elevate.
Thank you, Wayne, for your commitment to making sure that everyone is heard and valued.
Valerie Boss: Ira B. Melton Park
Several of Valerie’s nominators told us that they couldn’t imagine what Melton Park would be like if not for Valerie and her love of this space. She has been involved in the park since its beginning, back in 2001, when a letter writing campaign convinced the County to purchase the property as greenspace. To Valerie, the potential of this space was obvious, and through her stewardship and leadership, it has become a favorite park for many.
Thank you, Valerie, for your love of nature and this park, and for sharing both with your neighbors. Your passion is inspiring!
Taryn Arbeiter: Chosewood Park
Taryn got involved in the park soon after moving to its namesake neighborhood in 2020 and discovered that, although she lived just 2 blocks away, she had to walk more than a mile to actually enter the park due to an overgrowth of invasive species. Since then, she has been what neighbors describe as “a loudspeaker,” ensuring that city officials and developers don’t forget the park when making big decisions that impact the community.
Taryn has elevated the importance of access to well-maintained greenspaces, not only amongst neighbors and friends, but also at Atlanta City Council’s Community Development and Human Services Committee meetings, where she contributed to our recent city-wide park advocacy efforts.
Thank you, Taryn, for your tireless work on behalf of Chosewood Park and the city’s entire park system.
Marti Breen: Herbert Taylor – Daniel Johnson Park
Herbert Taylor – Daniel Johnson Park is a 39-acre greenspace in Northeast Atlanta. Marti has been active in the outdoors for most of her life and became involved with her Friends group in 2018. Leveraging her background in communications, Marti has successfully hosted monthly board meetings, applied for grants, recruited over 400 volunteers to participate at regular volunteer days, and has helped her neighbors discover this amazing greenspace. Her passion and energy are endless, especially when it comes to removing invasive species, which she can be found doing in the park with her husband several times a week. You can’t visit the park with Marti without learning something new.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and your ivy pulling addiction, Marti.
Gabbie Astepoyi-Hill: Columbia Elementary Forest
Driven by childhood experiences with nature and her desire for kids in DeKalb to have similar opportunities, Gabbie drew countless supporters to her cause of transforming a creekside forest on Columbia Elementary School’s campus in DeKalb into a shared space for outdoor learning, to be used both by students while school is in session, and by neighbors outside of school hours. Her leadership sparked the effort to protect and restore this land and inspires the community to imagine what it can become.
Gabbie, thank you for your efforts to bring the healing power of parks to Columbia and its neighbors.
Donna Stephens: English Park
Donna Stephens identifies herself as an advocate for all our parks. In addition to leading the Friends of English Park, she has spent years organizing, educating, and advocating on behalf of Kathryn Johnston Memorial Park, Lindsay Street Park, and the Proctor Creek watershed as a member of the Proctor Creek Stewardship Council. She has been a key community voice calling for equity and anti-displacement efforts around Westside Park. She is the Founder of the Chattahoochee Brick Company Descendants Coalition and has been on the frontlines for over eight years to protect this site as sacred and make its history known to the world.
Donna, your drive is humbling. Thank you.
Juanita Wallace: Proctor Creek Ecology District
With our final Inspiration Award, we’re honoring the memory of Ms. Juanita Wallace of the English Avenue Ecology District posthumously. Dr. Na’Taki Osborne-Jelks to highlighted Ms. Wallace, sharing the legacy and achievements of our beloved friend, colleague, and community advocate.