Helen Johnson Co-founder
Helen co-founded CreateHere, an innovative non-profit based in Chattanooga, TN, in 2007 and has served since its inception as co-president and creative strategist. Under the combined leadership of Helen and her co-president, CreateHere has strategically focused on utilizing creativity and innovation as tools to spur local development in arts, economy and culture. CreateHere works to animate and inspire Chattanooga’s people by promoting “big picture” vision.
That vision starts with the attraction and retention of creative individuals through a relocation incentive now in its fourth year; a competitive fellowship program designed to foster emerging leadership; a grants program funding over $575,000 in creative projects; and a progressive workspace that doubles as a community center and civic engagement laboratory. Chattanooga’s history is a testament to the success of “place-making” development initiatives, but CreateHere goes one step further, jump starting efforts at “people-making,” and finding ways to celebrate public spaces in the process.
Johnson has been tapped to speak at conferences by the Sustainable Cities:Plus Network, Tennessee Arts Commission, the Council on Foundations and Lambda Alpha International, as well as a number of local panels. Active in local environmental issues, Helen is a founding member of Take Root, a non-profit project that organizes urban tree plantings throughout Chattanooga to double the existing tree canopy. This effort fosters environmental health while inspiring residents to invest in the livelihood of their communities. Additionally, she serves on the board of the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga and the Women’s Fund of Greater Chattanooga.
Prior to co-founding CreateHere, Helen spent a dozen years in non-profit and arts administration, building the nationally-ranked 4 Bridges Arts Festival, coordinating innovative museum education programs at the Hunter Museum of American Art, as well as designing and launching community focused arts initiatives at Allied Arts. She holds a BFA from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Admirers of modern design and architecture, Helen and her husband Bill live in a mid-century modern home with two wonderful children.
Josh McManus Co-founder
Josh is one of CreateHere’s co-founders. At the age of 19, Josh joined the United Way system and rose in the ranks across the country, resulting in positions at the national organization and leading organizational development in the Chattanooga office. Just before starting CreateHere, Josh explored arts development and built a business around his passion for restoration. He also manages his own private consulting practice and continues to launch for-profit endeavors in construction and cultural development. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in business from Georgia Tech and the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
Josh is a founding board member of Crabtree Farms and Re:Sound, both which help incubate Chattanooga’s local food and music communities. He championed a public school renovation process called Bring it Together and is a Marshall Memorial Fellow, a Big Brother and a Next American Vanguard. Recently, his thoughts on the intersection of creativity and economic development have been featured on CNNMoney.com and The Huffington Post where he and Helen Davis Johnson, CreateHere’s other co-founder, were lauded for their work to make Chattanooga better.
Chris Ealy Fellow since April 2008
Christopher is originally from Munford, Tennessee, but moved to Chattanooga in 2002 to attend UTC and pursue his great love, climbing. He graduated in 2007, and holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance.
Christopher is known as the Minister of Finance around CreateHere, and he’s responsible for managing financial operations and payroll. Since joining the fellowship program, he has been instrumental in developing and maintaining all financial operations.
Katherine Currin Fellow since August 2008
Originally from Birmingham, AL, Katherine spent three years completing her secondary education in Newport, Rhode Island. She moved to Chattanooga in 2005 after receiving a bachelor's degree in Environmental Policy from the University of the South: Sewanee. In the summer of 2008, Katherine temporarily left Chattanooga to attend the McIntyre Business Institute at the University of Virginia. Katherine serves on organizing committees for Crabtree Farms, the Hunter Museum, and Land Trust for Tennessee and has recently joined the Leadership Council for the Trust for Public Land.
Katherine's professional experience includes infrastructure build out, concept development, program management, employee coordination, and executive support. Before coming to CreateHere she was responsible for opening an independently owned bookstore which she managed for two years. At CreateHere, Katherine has had many roles. Since May of 2009, she has been Coordinator for Chattanooga Stand.
Allison Reedy Fellow since December 2009
Allison was born and raised in Chattanooga. She decided to stay for college and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She recently graduated with a degree in Business Finance and is returning in the fall to complete her degree in Business Accounting.
Allison’s professional experience includes a number of sales, management, and customer service positions. At CreateHere, she produces cash flow projections, assists in preparing tax returns, and does the day-to-day accounting work.
Matt Adams Fellow since September 2010
Born and raised in Chattanooga, Matt left his hometown for a season and returned in 2007 to finish a bachelor's degree in fine arts with a focus on graphic design at UTC. During his undergraduate career, Matt interned with the branding experts at Widgets & Stone and Tricycle Inc., a local sustainable design company. He enjoys the simple things in life: his dog, soul music, and New York-style pizza.
Matt brings an ever-expanding list of creative talents to CreateHere's design team including branding, print design, photography, front-end web development, video, and environmental graphics. He is passionate about using design as a platform for social change and has worked on many local initiatives including TasteBuds, Take Root, and Sequatchie Cove Farm.
Kate Creason Fellow since November 2010
Kate grew up in Chattanooga. She earned her Bachelor of Art with a concentration in Drawing from the University of Tennessee and her Master of Architecture from Georgia Institute of Technology. Kate enjoys traveling abroad and sketching her adventures.
Kate is passionate about building creative cities and engaging our artistic community. At CreateHere, Kate is currently administering the MakeWork grants program, updating our digital design archive, and constructing an exhibit highlighting our work.
Michael Wurzel Fellow since November 2010
Originally from Franklin, TN, Michael moved away from the rolling green hills of middle Tennessee to attend college at the University of South: Sewanee. There, he developed a great affection for the coves, cliffs, and blue holes of the Cumberland Plateau region and earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies.
As an environmental educator, trail builder, and professional conservationist, Michael is excited to be the coordinator for Take Root and Citizen Forester. He is also an avid bike commuter and community design enthusiast.
Jessica McGhee Fellow since January 2011
Jessica, a nashville native, moved to Chattanooga in 2007 to attend the University of Tennessee. This spring, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design. Aside from art and design, Jessica's passions include travel, photography, bike riding, antique hunting, and warm weather.
Jessica started at CreateHere in 2010 working on a project involved with initiatives towards community engagement. Since January, she has been back on board continuing to work with the design team.