Learning Lab IV Panel
Eric was appointed as the Executive Director of the Chattanooga Design Studio in March 2017. In this role he oversees strategic development, fiscal performance, and is the Studio’s primary spokesperson to the media and the general public. Under his leadership, the Studio has begun to strengthen relationships with various outside organizations and has aligned the studio’s program focus to help the Board of Directors engage on specific mission related opportunities. A native of Maryland, Myers is a LEED accredited registered architect and urban designer with a broad ranging background and breadth of experience in Chattanooga and the Southeast. For over 22 years Eric has practiced architecture and urban design in Chattanooga. Prior to joining the Chattanooga Design Studio, Eric founded a design firm and through his 10 years of leadership, the organization helped create urban housing, commercial retail and offices, healthcare facilities, historic preservation efforts, as well as urban design and neighborhood structure plans. Eric was also urban design coordinator at the community’s legacy studio which operated from 1980 until 2005. >He holds a bachelor of architecture degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Eric currently serves on the Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise Board of Directors. He is the immediate past president of Cornerstones, Inc. and past president of the Chattanooga Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Myers also served a 2014 to 2017 appointment to the Chattanooga- Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.
Matt is the founding principal of WMWA. In 2013, after spending twelve years working at award winning firms in Virginia and Washington, DC, Matt returned to the region where he was raised to start the firm. When Matt was 17, his high school art teacher told him he should study landscape architecture. Landscape architecture is his third profession after working as a butcher during undergrad and managing production of cutting edge drug delivery polymers after. His bachelor’s degree in biology/chemistry from the University of Alabama in Huntsville focused on plant ecology. Matt again focused on ecology and plant communities while earning his Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia’s School of Environmental Design. This lifelong interest in ecology and natural systems heavily influences his work as a landscape architect. Matt loves the outdoors, good food, and is fascinated by plants. Apples, in a roundabout way, brought Matt to Chattanooga after a Thanksgiving with his friend Tom Burford. Tom, world renowned apple and fruit expert, told Matt to go to Chattanooga and start a firm. When Tom Burford tells you to do something, you do it. While Tom introduces Matt as the only Burford approved orchard designer in North America, Matt heavily consults with Tom when any orchard design is happening.
Stacy began serving as Chief of Staff to Mayor Andy Berke in 2015. Prior to that, she served as the Chief Policy Officer and Senior Advisor to the mayor. Her background is in both politics and policy, serving as the campaign manager for the Berke for Mayor Campaign and as a research fellow at the Ochs Center for Metropolitan Studies. Over the years, Stacy has worked alongside numerous public and private partners to help implement several key mayoral initiatives, including growing Chattanooga’s innovation and technology economy through the Innovation District, ensuring families have the opportunity to succeed through Baby University, and coordinating the work and policy directives of the Mayor’s Council for Women. A native to Chattanooga, Stacy graduated with both departmental and university honors from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Most recently, Stacy obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy.
James McKissic is the newly appointed President of ArtsBuild. Prior to this, he spent a year as Chief Operating Officer at the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga. For six years from 2013 – 2019, he served as Senior Adviser to the Mayor and the Director of the City of Chattanooga Office of Multicultural Affairs. His role for the City included linking diverse businesses to city government contracting opportunities, improving the City’s supplier diversity efforts, and working to promote justice, inclusion, and equity among the employees and citizenry of Chattanooga. The values of family, community, the arts, and philanthropy have guided James’ personal and professional endeavors. Heavily influenced by creators like Marta Morena Vega, Margaret Burroughs, and ArthurMitchell and committed to the idea that marginalized people must establish their own cultural programs and institutions, James founded Friends of African American Art, which funded purchases of art by Kerry James Marshall and Sam Gilliam for the permanent collection of the Hunter Museum of American Art. James loves Chattanooga, and is excited to support the City’s Arts sector in his new role at ArtsBuild.
Katelyn Kirnie has served as the Director of Public Art Chattanooga, the City of Chattanooga’s public art division, since 2016. She moved back to her hometown after several years in Boston, MA where she was Visual Arts Manager for the Rose Kennedy Greenway. While there, she established a highly acclaimed, rotating mural program, The Greenway Wall, currently in its seventh season. Katelyn got her start in the public art field, working for international sculptor, John Henry as his Exhibition Manager and went on to earn her Master’s Degree in Arts Administration from Boston University. She has spent her entire career working with artists to bring extraordinary ideas to life and has an extensive background in project management, producing exhibitions, artworks and interventions in the public realm since 2007. As Director of Public Art Chattanooga, most recently, she completed a community-wide planning process and 10 year public art strategic plan for the City. Katelyn was hooked early on by the transformative power of public art and its ability to create community and place. Now, as a mother of two girls, ages 5 and 6, she enjoys seeing how art in public spaces can spark wonder and joy in the most unexpected ways.
Kim White is a proven leader with a passion for making a difference in communities. For the past 11 years, she has put her passion into practice as the president and CEO of River City Company, the non-profit development organization with a 33-year history focusing on the economic growth and development of Downtown Chattanooga. With the influence of her leadership, Chattanooga has seen a renewed focus on downtown housing, better connections with UTC and the development of great public spaces. Private investment over the last five years helped implement the City Center Plan and redevelop Miller Park. While her focus has been on downtown, her impact has been much broader. Kim served on the Erlanger Board of Trustees for six years. She remains connected to her alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, where she has served as the chair of the UC Foundation – the 2nd woman in 50 years to hold the position. She is a former president of the UTC Alumni Board and the Chancellor’s Roundtable. Kim was appointed by Gov. Haslam to the UT Board of Trustees in 2018 and serves on the Executive and Finance Committees.