The mission of AVA is to connect visual arts and community in personal and experiential ways because art makes people and communities better.
AVA, the Association for Visual Arts, is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization that works to connect the visual arts and the community-at-large. We do this by providing resources for those who make art (whether professional artists, emerging artists, students or non-artists) and fostering connections among art-makers and audiences.
Today, AVA has a membership of 500, is run by a staff of seven employees and a Board of Directors, and receives support from numerous businesses and public agencies, as well as more than 150 volunteers. Our programs include annual exhibitions in the Main Gallery and the Landis Student Gallery, a Community Arts program that partners AVA with other nonprofit organizations in the Chattanooga area, the Summer Art Camp & Film Institute, Reel Stories Documentary Program, Capture: A Community Film Making Project, and the nationally ranked 4 Bridges Arts Festival™.
Anne Willson earned a BA in Communications, a second BA with a double concentration in Museum Studies and Art History, and an MA in Liberal Arts from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, as well as a Certificate in Non Profit Management from Duke University, Durham, NC. Willson’s twenty+ years experience in the arts sector includes management and leadership positions with UNCG, the Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the Greensboro Artist League. In addition, she co-founded a multi-use visual art gallery/studio space in downtown Greensboro and was the founding director of Bricolage, a Piedmont Triad, NC nonprofit arts organization that supported the creation of art works by local artists and arts organizations. With a professional interest and strong background in community arts, her strengths include community collaborations and connecting artists to the community at large. Willson assumed the executive director role with AVA in December 2010.
Assistant Director, Development and Member Relations
Coughlin Cooper earned a B.A. from Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi and upon graduation, returned to Chattanooga to work with The Hunter Museum of American Art and the Creative Discovery Museum. She also obtained her A.S. in the Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales University in Vail, Colorado, and worked in catering, event planning and special event management. She has been an active volunteer in the Chattanooga and Signal Mountain communities for many years. Cooper joined AVA in the fall of 2012 as Business Administrator. Her duties include various internal and external administrative responsibilities as well as the 4 Bridges Patron’s Party and other special events.
Education and Exhibitions Director
Lauren Goforth earned a B.A. in Art History with a minor in Education from Sewanee: The University of the South. During her undergraduate studies, Goforth completed internships at ArtsBuild Chattanooga, the Hunter Museum, and the Association for Visual Arts. She is also a graduate of the Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute. She previously worked as a Teaching Assistant at Sewanee Elementary School and has numerous years of experience as a volunteer in the non-profit and educational sectors. Goforth has been with AVA since 2008 and assumed a leadership role in September 2012.
Director of 4 Bridges Arts Festival™
Michelle Kimbrell earned a BA in Studio Art from Georgia State University in Atlanta and an Associates Degree in Business from Georgia Perimeter College. She is also a 2013 Holmberg Arts Leadership Institute graduate. Shortly after moving to Chattanooga in June of 2013 Michelle started an internship with AVA. She has become a well known emerging artist and is strongly affiliated with The Open Press: Chattanooga's Print Co-op as the printmaking apprentice.
Director of Media & Design and Capture Project Director
Zachary has over 18 years experience in a a wide range of media. A founding partner of the arts & entertainment newsweekly, The Pulse, he directed editorial and design throughout his 10-year leadership there. Additionally, Zach has extensive knowledge and experience in digital publishing and advertising, video distribution, television, radio and media relations.
2015-2016 Board of Directors
Darlene Brown, President
Lisa Brock, Vice President
Jonathan Frost, Treasurer
Yolanda Morton, Secretary
Mike Taylor, Past President
Members at Large
Isaac Duncan, III