Emerald Corridor Foundation is leading the holistic revitalization of the Grove Park neighborhood and surrounding Proctor Creek area of Northwest Atlanta.

Our Mission

Emerald Corridor Foundation seeks to foster a healthy environment and support thriving urban communities.

We build green spaces and restore waterways.

We support and engage local communities through partnerships and grants.

Our Vision


Working with residents, local businesses, and community and faith leaders to build public and private partnerships to implement a common vision.

This open dialogue will identify community priorities and needs, identify funding needs, and build positive partnerships with residents to ensure outcomes reflect community engagement.


Establishing a high quality education pipeline that promotes student growth, learning, and achievement at every level, starting at birth through high school graduation.

This includes implementing a rigorous and relevant curriculum complemented by a comprehensive set of supportive wrap-around services and holistic family care to help ensure that all minds are nurtured and growing toward successful futures.


Building a healthy and thriving neighborhood through a renewed collective culture of community.

This includes activating public gathering spaces through art, community heritage, beautification, new green spaces, and thoughtful investment in sustainable economic growth that attracts jobs and retail. These initiatives will stimulate neighborhood vitality and cross-sectoral community investments.


Developing a long-term strategy committed to sustainable community growth, centered on safe, affordable, diverse, and healthy neighborhoods.

Efforts will focus on development of a comprehensive housing strategy that includes supporting existing homeowners, building multi-family and mixed-income housing options, and providing supportive services for all residents. Qualified partners will be sought to establish jobs training, employment opportunities and improved transit access.

Our Team



Board Member

As principal and founder of B+C Studio, Joel is responsible for the firm’s day to day operations as well as maintaining a critical focus on client services. Prior to forming B+C Studio, Mr. Bowman was the Design Studio Manager for Post Landscape Group where he worked on award winning projects like Cousin’s Avenues projects and many others. He is an energetic and creative designer with over 15 years of professional experience in land planning and landscape architecture known for vigorous leadership that emphasizes the promotion of design innovation through collaboration and creative thinking. Joel has worked on a diverse range of projects including a number of master-planned communities and neighborhoods, mixed-use and urban infill developments, retail and office projects. His areas of expertise include neighborhood and community planning, office and retail site planning, site design, land use consultation, corporate and residential amenity area development.



Executive Director  //  Board Member

Debra is currently the Executive Director and Board Member of the Emerald Corridor Foundation. She was previously a Senior Program Director for the Trust for Public Land (TPL) where she managed the Georgia Office’s greenspace and conservation programs, including the Proctor Creek Greenway, Chattahoochee Valley Blueway, and Chattahoochee River transaction work. Prior to that, she directed the Real Estate program for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. Debra resided in NYC for many years where she launched the iconic NYC High Line Park while representing CSX Corporation. Previous to that she held a post in the New York City Mayor’s Office, and two years with the City of New York’s Economic Development Corporation. Debra serves on the Board of Directors of the South Fork Conservancy, and recently completed six years of service as a Planning Commissioner in Dekalb County, GA. She holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from New York University and a B.A. in Urban Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University.



Board Member

Jason is Founder and principal investor Providence Realty Investors (PRI). PRI is a boutique investment firm with $250MM in assets under management that invest directly in projects, provides third-party asset management and underwriting services for owners of apartment projects.  He is a multifamily real estate investment professional with 15 years of diverse experience. Prior to PRI, Jason worked in Development with the Integral Group, asset management at Fairfield Residential in Boston, and Boston Capital Corporation.  He served on the YMCA Head Start Board for North Georgia for several years, was a Big with Brothers Big Sisters of Atlanta and currently serves as Co-Founder and Chairman of a non-profit that raises scholarships for students attending Morehouse College.  He also serves on the Morehouse College President’s Advisory Board. Jason holds a Masters of Business Administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Morehouse College and is licensed by the Georgia Real Estate Commission.”



Board Member

Daniel has over 10 years of experience in financial services. He began as an Analyst at Bank of America in its Leverage Finance Division on the Loan Syndications Desk. Daniel went on to become a Fixed-Income Research Associate focusing on the media and telecom sectors. He has also worked for the mission-based investment fund Local Initiatives Support Corporation, where he helped manage the organization’s portfolio and underwriting operations. Daniel also spent some time with an Atlanta/London based hedge fund, Gallery Capital Management, an alternative fund that invests in specialty insurance risk at the Lloyd’s of London insurance marketplace. Most recently, Daniel joined Habitat For Humanity International (HFHI) as the Director of Capital Markets and Financial Systems where he manages an impact investment fund for HFHI and advises on a broader array of financial transactions.

Daniel received his BA, with a focus on American politics, from Williams College, where he remains active and serves as a vice-chair of its Alumni Fund. He is committed to helping improve his community, and is a co-founder and current board member of Crawfish for Cancer. Daniel lives in Atlanta with his wife, Laura Kolesar Gura, and 8 month old daughter, Mirele Grace Gura.”



Board Member

Cheryl is a litigation partner at McGuireWoods LLP.  She has 20 years of experience representing Fortune 100 companies in complex matters in federal and state courts as well as in investigations before federal and state securities regulators. Cheryl has lived in Atlanta for 15 years.



Board Member

Jeremy is the Executive Director of Sustainable America, implementing its strategic plan to raise consumer awareness around sustainable food and fuel issues, and to support entrepreneurs working on these issues to make our nation more efficient, resilient and sustainable. Prior to Sustainable America, Jeremy worked for a decade at The Keystone Center on the nation’s toughest energy and environmental issues as a mediator, facilitator, and educator. Jeremy worked for the Izaak Walton League on a clean air campaign on behalf of hunters and fishers, and helped launch Forest Trends, an international sustainable forestry non-profit. He also worked for five years at McKinsey & Co in its environment practice, working with Fortune 500 companies. He has an MS in Environmental Science and BA in Social Sciences from Johns Hopkins University, and an MPA in Environmental Policy from New York University.



Board Member

Will is the senior community and economic development adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He specializes in community development finance, and has experience with public-private partnerships, tax credit finance, and the Community Reinvestment Act. Prior to joining the Atlanta Fed, he was director of Community Economic Development programming at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute Atlanta Center for Leadership, class of 2016. He holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a master of public policy from Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy.



Board Member

David is the CEO and owner of C.D. Moody Construction Company, an Atlanta-based general contracting and construction management firm. His projects include such iconic Atlanta buildings as Morehouse College's Ray Charles Performing Arts Center and Music Academic Building, the New World of Coca-Cola, and the Cyclorama addition and renovations at the Atlanta History Center. David is the recipient of many distinguished awards and honors from prestigious Atlanta and national organizations, like the "2009 Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Who’s Who – 100 People to Know in Atlanta’s Commercial Real Estate Scene", and the "2014 Morehouse College Outstanding Alumnus Entrepreneur Award." He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Morehouse College and the Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America. David has a BS in Psychology from Morehouse College, a Bachelor of Architecture 5 year professional degree from Howard University, has completed graduate courses in architecture and construction management at the University of Michigan and Georgia Tech, and was a fellow at Harvard University in the Advanced Leadership Initiative program in 2015.



Chairman  //  Board Member

Leonard is Managing Partner and co-founder of Zion Consulting Group, a real estate and business development advisory firm serving non-profits, faith based institutions and corporations. He is also Managing Partner and co-founder of ZL Development Group, which partners with faith based institutions to develop their real estate assets. Leonard has over 23 years of real estate, consulting, global asset management and investment banking experience, including roles with Merrill Lynch & Co.’s corporate finance/investment banking division and Alliance Capital Management International. He is currently the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Youthbuild Newark a non-profit, which helps high school dropouts complete their education while training them in the construction field; as well as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of East Orange General Hospital, a 325-bed urban hospital serving the community of East Orange, NJ. 



Board Member

Marlena is the principal and founder of The Laundry Club with an existing location on Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway and a second location to open on Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway in early 2017.  She is a senior finance executive with 30 years of financial management, accounting and auditing experience who’s spent the last 15 years as V.P. of Finance for InterContinental Hotels Group, Inc.  Her background also includes finance and accounting roles in the oil and gas, freight forwarding and logistics, temporary staffing and public accounting industries.  She’s previously served on the boards of Jomandi Productions and YWCA Atlanta, and is currently a member of On Board.



Board Member

Laura is a co-founder of Brookwood Group, Inc. and the current owner and Managing Principal of Brookwood Design Group LLC, a separate affiliate of Brookwood Group Inc. She co-chaired the 18th annual Congress for the New Urbanism, lead the concept phase for international projects, and served as Brookwood’s Principal-in-Charge for several Atlanta master plans and redesign projects.



Board Member

Denise is an operations executive with 20 years of experience in both the public and private sector, who recently served as the director of the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, where she was responsible for developing Atlanta’s first comprehensive sustainability plan the lead to passing some of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation that Atlanta has seen in its history. Previous to that Denise was Vice President of Environmental Affairs for Southwire Corp. North America’s leading producer of electric wiring and cabling. Denise held various executive positions as Portfolio Manager, Operations Manager, and Paint Center Manager at DaimlerChrysler, where she gained extensive experience in business and operations management during her 11-year tenure. She is a member of the EarthShare Georgia Board of Directors, serves on the advisory board for Emory University Board of Visitors, the Southeast Rainwater Harvesting Systems Association and The Nature Conservancy Georgia LEAF Program and others.


Justine Schwartz

Project Manager

Justine is a project manager for the Emerald Corridor Foundation. Prior to her hiring at Emerald Corridor Foundation, Justine worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the City of Atlanta’s Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, where her work focused on energy efficiency, urban agriculture, grant writing, and more. She has a Master’s of Science in Environmental Science and Policy from the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, and a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA.




Board Member

Mark attended Georgia Tech in Atlanta where he was the recipient of the Dick Howser Award, which recognizes College Baseball’s most outstanding athlete. His professional baseball career began in 2002 when he was drafted by the Texas Rangers. He played for the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels before signing his current eight year contract with the New York Yankees. Mark has been recognized during his outstanding career with a number of honors including five Gold Glove Awards, three Silver Slugger Awards and three American League All-Star Team selections. Mark is actively involved in community support programs in a number of cities. He is committed to education and established scholarship endowments at Mount Saint Joseph High School in Baltimore and The Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. In New York City, Mark is a member of the Board of Directors and leads the capital campaign for Harlem RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Intercity), a program designed to help urban youth learn, play and grow. He also supports The DREAM Charter School.



Board Member

Nick is the founder of Sustainable America, a nonprofit dedicated to making our nation's food and energy systems more sustainable through education and impact investing.  For 12 years, Nick managed a long/short equity and commodity portfolio at SAC Capital / Point 72 with over $1.5 billion gross capital.  Prior to that, at Fidelity Investments, Nick was a food sector analyst, then an energy analyst and portfolio manager of the Fidelity Select Energy Services Fund. After becoming increasingly concerned about the vulnerable state of our food and fuel systems, Nick created Sustainable America to focus national attention on these intertwined issues.  Sustainable America, although a public charity, believes in utilizing the capital markets to accomplish its charitable mission. All of its assets are invested in impact-aligned investments. While attending Harvard Business School, Nick co-founded the Harbus Foundation, a grant-making, student-run charity.  He serves on the board of trustees of The Nature Conservancy, Connecticut. 


Our Story

Emerald Corridor Foundation is committed to improving the quality of life in the distressed neighborhoods of Proctor Creek. The Foundation was founded in 2014 by a group of landscape architects and landowners hoping to establish safe new trails and green spaces and restore Proctor Creek, a once-vibrant tributary of the Chattahoochee River that flows through the heart of Atlanta’s west side. The initial vision involved creek clean up and restoration, a network of parks and green spaces, and the creation of a seven-mile trail along the creek. However, as we embarked on these plans and began working with and talking to community leaders, it became evident that a far more ambitious and wide-ranging initative was possible and desired.

Recognizing the need for holistic neighborhood revitalization that goes far beyond the ongoing work toward an environmental restoration along the waterway, Emerald Corridor Foundation is partnering with the YMCA, Atlanta Public Schools, KIPP of Metro Atlanta, True Colors Theatre, and the Fox Theatre, Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Fund, and others to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty in Grove Park and surrounding neighborhoods. The foundation is serving in the role of a “community quarterback,” and will engage with partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to stabilize and revitalize the neighborhood. The foundation will be responsible for defining the initiative, coordinating with community leaders and other stakeholders, identifying partners, creating collaborations, securing funding, and implementing the vision in the years to come.

This intentionally disruptive and cross-sectoral approach will focus on three core areas of concern – education, housing, and wellness – allowing existing residents to remain and flourish, attract new families and opportunities, and form the building blocks of a healthy community. The critical first step to equitable and sustainable change is establishing a high-performing school and supportive services in the heart of the community. This presents a unique – and pressing – opportunity to build a pipeline to lasting change that will be supported with early childhood programs, health and wellness projects, affordable housing, job training and employment opportunities, and an array of neighborhood amenities and services.

Just as a waterway alters course when faced with obstacles and changes over time, Emerald Corridor Foundation has seen its purpose evolve and expand in response to clear and urgent needs within the community. We are embarking on a bold and exciting new journey, and we are eager to work with the residents and partners to bring about long-term success and vitality in the Grove Park and Proctor Creek area.