Legacy Decatur is a 501(c)(3) foundation established in Decatur, Georgia, in 2015.
As a distinct nonprofit aligned closely with the City of Decatur and its community vision, Legacy Decatur offers a civic infrastructure for connecting elected officials with community champions and motivated citizens in support of legacy-oriented initiatives.
Within the vision articulated in the City’s strategic plan are certain goals requiring grassroots community organizing, fundraising, negotiations and leasing, and other tasks falling outside the conventional role of government. Legacy Decatur provides an accountable, parallel means by which these functions can be appropriately addressed, grants and other forms of funding can be pursued, and individuals and organizations can personally contribute — as donors or hands-on volunteers — to meeting the city’s strategic goals.
In 2015, our organization received its 501(c)(3) status as the Decatur Legacy Project to facilitate the planning, community engagement, and fundraising efforts associated with the city’s 2023 bicentennial celebrations. Operating now as Legacy Decatur, we’ve since broadened our mission and, with that, our focus.
Today we work to cultivate a broadly-defined, tangible legacy for future generations — reinforcing community values through partnerships and programs that support the City of Decatur, Georgia. Specifically, those values comprise: creativity, transparency, inclusivity, affordability, diversity, equity, connection, collaboration, sustainability, and stewardship.
To those ends, Legacy Decatur organizes its priorities around the city’s strategic goals, particularly as they relate to inclusive and attainable housing, community building, and environmental stewardship. These interests converge at the city’s 77 acre Legacy Park, a former United Methodist Children’s Home, where ongoing management and implementation of the property’s master plan constitutes Legacy Decatur’s principal interest.
In 2019, we broadened our all-volunteer board to seven members encompassing a mix of elected officials, city staff, and committed residents. In 2020, we expanded again with four additional at-large members.
This 11 member board now consists of two elected officials, one city employee, and eight Decatur neighbors with embodied expertise in public administration, foundations and grantseeking, contract law, finance, affordable housing, construction management, and community organizing.
The Legacy Decatur Board
Tony Powers was elected to the Decatur City Commission in 2015, capping decades of service to the community leading a variety of initiatives and boards addressing education, growth, and environmental conservation — experiences he now shares with us as chair of the Legacy Decatur board. A native of Decatur who grew up in Oakhurst, he now resides in the Great Lakes neighborhood with his wife Leisa. They have two daughters.
Committed to creating and supporting opportunities that foster Decatur’s enviable sense of community, Meredith Struby serves as the link between Legacy Decatur and the City of Decatur’s Public Facilities Authority (PFA), which she Chairs and which managed the acquisition of Legacy Park in 2017. An intellectual property attorney specializing in patents, she’s lived in the Oakhurst neighborhood since 2003 with her husband, Neil, and two children, Caroline and Andrew.
Peggy Merriss retired from the City of Decatur after 35+ years of service, including 25 years as the City Manager. She counts the acquisition of the Legacy Park property from the United Methodist Children’s Home as a highlight of her career and proudly serves on the Decatur Legacy Board to provide the leadership, vision, management, and financial skills to assure the property’s future success. A resident for over 30 years, first on Sycamore Drive and now in Downtown Decatur, she enjoys traveling, the arts, and solving puzzles of all types.
Decatur’s City Manager since 2019 and a city employee since 1997, Andrea Arnold helps guide Legacy Decatur’s organizational development with her extensive experience in local government and non-profit boards, including her current tenure with Leadership DeKalb. An avid runner, she lives in Decatur’s Clairemont/Great Lakes neighborhood with her husband, David, and their three children.
Mark Arnold is an active community member with over 20 years of civic service to City Schools of Decatur, Decatur-Dekalb YMCA, Decatur Book Festival, MLK Service project, and mentorship programs. His commitment — together with his professional experiences in finance, strategic planning, project management, and public-private partnerships — now adds value to the Legacy Decatur board. He has lived in the Glennwood neighborhood since 2000 with his wife, Roz, and daughters, Sage and MJ.
An attorney with four decades worth of experience in business and legal counsel, Ed Bowen provides Legacy Decatur with particular expertise in affordable housing, real estate finance, and related partnerships. A fourth generation Atlantan with an impressive personal legacy of extensive civic contributions, he lives in Decatur’s Winnona Park neighborhood.
Mark Ethun is an architect and historic preservation expert with over 20 years of project experience. He has served as a member of the Historic Preservation Commission and as the city’s Building Official, where his staff support of the Legacy Park Master Plan and the Affordable Housing Task Force provided valuable insights he now brings to the Legacy board. A resident of the Great Lakes neighborhood, he’s currently trying to visit all 65 Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites with his wife, Kelly, and daughter, Ellison.
Patti Garrett has served Decatur as a City Commissioner since 2010 and as the city’s Mayor since 2014. She further serves as Vice-Chair of the Board of the National Civic League and is a member of the Federal Policy Council, the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, and serves as District 3 East VP of the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA). As part of various committees, she addresses housing issues with the ARC, inclusivity issues with Welcoming America, and refugee challenges with New American Pathways. She lives in the Winnona Park neighborhood with her husband, Gary.
Allen Mast is an attorney and private foundation expert with over 20 years of management and grant-making experience. Working exclusively with foundations, he provides Legacy Decatur with career expertise in management, administration, governance, compliance, grant-making, strategic planning, and board development. Possessing a long history of participation with foundation and charitable organization boards, he’s a resident of the Oakhurst neighborhood.
A resident of 25 years, Paul Mitchell knows the ins and out of non-profits well. He chaired the MLK Jr. Service Project for more than 10 years and currently serves on the ToolBank USA National Board. During the high school and college summers of his youth, he headed the maintenance department of a 200 acre, 40 building summer camp in Massachusetts. Now retired, he provides Legacy Decatur with the wisdom of his lengthy career in accounting and information technology. He lives in the West Ponce de Leon neighborhood.
Brian Smith maintains a lengthy resume of community contributions, including previous leadership roles with the Decatur City Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, the Decatur Business Association, the Winnona Park Neighborhood Association, and Safe Routes to Schools. Coupled with his professional experience in finance, he brings the Legacy board a unique understanding of civic commitment rooted in practical expertise. He currently lives in Oakhurst with his wife, Missie, and two children, Madsen and Colby.
500 S. Columbia Drive
Decatur, Georgia 30030