Our Board of Directors
Joen Bettmann: Ms. Bettmann is Director of Training at the International Montessori Training Institute (IMTI) in Atlanta. In addition, she is a consultant for the Association Montessori Internationale (AMI), an adjunct professor at Loyola University (Maryland), and a sought-after speaker at national and international conferences on Montessori education. Ms. Bettmann holds a B.A. in Sociology from Marietta College (Ohio), an M.Ed from Loyola University (Maryland), and an AMI Primary Diploma from the Midwest Montessori Institute.
Alefiya Bhatia: Ms. Bhatia is a graduate of Emory University (Psychology/Education). She alsoholds an AMI Primary Diploma from the Montessori Institute of Atlanta. Ms. Bhatia is the CEO and Founder of Crescerance, a company that offers customized mobile app solutions for schools. She believes that involved communities result in higher academic and social outcomes, stronger values, and increased future success for students. Prior to Crescerance, Ms. Bhatia spent several years working both in the classroom and as a part of school administration in Atlanta area schools. Her degree from Emory University– along with her Montessori roots (she went to a Montessori school as a child) and her Montessori teacher training– has served to power her passion for wide-scale education improvement.
Melody Blount: Ms. Blount is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University. She is a Product Development Senior Scientist at Cargill. A resident of Ashview Heights, Ms. Blount serves on the Executive Committee of the Ashview Heights Community Association. She is a proud “tennis mom” and an active member of the Lutheran Church of the Atonement.
Derrick Duckworth: A resident of Adair Park, Derrick is the creator of The Beltline Team, Inc.–a local real estate company selling in the 45 Beltline neighborhoods. Over the past 10 years, he has been instrumental in spearheading The Partnership for the Preservation of Pittsburgh and The Atlanta Beltline Chamber of Commerce. He also launched a social enterprise called Committed to Communities, which is focused on homeownership and education. Committed to Communities uplifts communities along the southern crescent of the Atlanta Beltline by embracing renters, engaging whole communities and sharing attractions. In 2015, Derrick completed a 4-year term as Treasurer for Fulton County on the Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority Board of Directors. In March of 2016, he finished 5 1/2 years on the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP). Derrick currently holds board positions with The Atlanta Land Trust Collaborative (ALTC) and the Empire Board of Realtists, Inc.
Deric Gilliard: Mr. Gilliard is a Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where he serves as the principal communications adviser to the Regional Director. Mr. Gilliard holds a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Kansas, an M.A. in English from Wichita State University, and an M.A. in African-American Studies from Georgia State University. He is the author of “Living in the Shadows of a Legend: Unsung Heroes and & Sheroes Who Marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” (2002). Mr. Gilliard previously worked as National Communications Director for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) under the direction of Dr. Joseph Lowery. He serves as the Chair of the Church Council at New Life Covenant Church in English Avenue.
Anthony Granberry: Dr. Granberry is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist. He is also a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor. He has over 20 years of counseling experience in professional settings as well as the parish. Dr. Granberry holds a B.S. in Psychology from Morehouse College, a M.S. in Religion from the University of Georgia, and a MTS and ThD from Emory University.
Patrice McBurse-Holt: Ms. Holt is a native of Cochran, Georgia, a small rural community in middle Georgia. After high school, she attended Georgia State University. Ms. Holt has worked in the English Avenue Community for 10 years as the Program Director at The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta, Bellwood Unit. Presently, she has transitioned to the Program Coordinator for all The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Atlanta. With over 10 years of experience with non-profit management and program facilitation, she hopes to help non-profits in urban areas become sustainable and make the deepest impact on the communities that they serve. Her passion for the youth of the English Avenue/Vine City Communities compels her to spend much of her time volunteering at many non-profits and community events in the area. She and her husband, Aaron, share a passion to motivate young people to see their greatest potential.
Sam McKnight: Mr. McKnight is the President of the Southeast Region of Liberty Mutual Business Insurance. He is responsible for Liberty’s business insurance portfolio in seven southeastern states managed through offices in Duluth, Alpharetta, Charlotte, and Nashville. Mr. McKnight holds the Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation (CPCU), and he has a B.B.A. in Economics from Oglethorpe University. He has 23 years of experience in the business community across the southeast, including the last nine years in Atlanta. Sam’s wife, Christy, is an AMI-certified Montessori primary teacher.
Lee Walton, Chair: Mr. Walton is a certified city planner through the American Institute for Certified Planners (AICP). He holds a B.S. in Architecture and an M.S. in City Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He currently works for AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. as a project manager, senior planner, and urban designer in the Atlanta office. He serves on the Church Council at New Life Covenant Church in English Avenue.
Elizabeth Whitmore: Elizabeth is an active Westside community resident, and her family has a longstanding tradition of attending schools in the AUC. After studying abroad in Paris, France, Elizabeth graduated from Clark Atlanta University in May of 2012. She became a homeowner in the area soon after, and she presently works as an Educational Consultant for an international technology firm. Elizabeth also serves on the Board of the Ashview Heights Community Association. She enjoys collaboratively working on community projects with other Westside neighborhoods, traveling, and spending time with her family.