The Association for Visual Arts (AVA) is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to connecting visual arts and community in personal and experiential ways because we believe that art makes people and communities better. AVA offers creative programs, and is the proud producer of the 4 Bridges Arts Festival; a nationally ranked fine arts festival. AVA’s gallery and offices are located on the Northshore area of Chattanooga, TN.
Interim Executive Director
Jennifer Lewis comes to AVA with a passion for the arts and a wealth of experience in non-profit management. After graduating from the University of California at Santa Barbara, Jennifer began her career at the Jewish Community Center of Long Beach, CA where, among other roles, she planned teen activities and served as a camp director for a children’s theatre program, while taking graduate courses in nonprofit business management. She later brought those skills to Memphis, TN where she held a similar post. When graduate school took her husband to Jerusalem for a year, Jennifer worked part-time doing curriculum development for Jewish teens and pursued her interest in ceramic arts. After moving to Cincinnati, OH, she began teaching classes in pottery, including basic hand building and advanced wheel throwing. When her husband’s career took the family to Orange County, CA, Jennifer returned to non-profit management as the Cultural Arts Director for the Jewish Community Center in Irvine where she planned multiple festivals and ran a gallery featuring local artists. Most recently, before her move to the Scenic City, Jennifer was living in Lincoln, NE, where she worked on the management team for a non-profit which serves adults with developmental disabilities. Among her proudest achievements there was the creation of the Live Yes Studio, a day program that developed her agency’s clients into budding artists who had opportunities to work in media ranging from music, to drawing, to three-dimensional art. Live Yes even has a gallery where their work is displayed and sold in the city’s First Friday events, bringing recognition and income to the artists. Jennifer is thrilled to call Chattanooga home and has fallen in love with the city. She is married to Craig who serves as the rabbi of Mizpah Congregation, a synagogue in the Fort Wood area. They have a son, Eden, a budding artist in his own right, who loves Legos, Super Heroes, musical theatre, and Yugi-Oh. Together the family shares a love of animals with two dogs, Rocket and Tipper, and a cat named Daisy. In their free time, the Lewis family enjoys exploring all that there is to do in and around their new home on the Tennessee River as they look forward to building their lives here.
Administrative and Office Coordinator
Dawn McFadden is a native of north Georgia who moved to Chattanooga in 2012 with her family.
A graduate of Berry College, Dawn has a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in journalism. Immediately after graduating, she was a reporter and editor for semi-weekly and daily newspapers in Georgia and Alabama for a decade. She has 17 years of experience with non-profit organizations, first as a parish administrator for an Episcopal church, and then in membership and underwriting services at WUTC, Chattanooga’s National Public Radio affiliate station.
She and her husband Jim are thrilled to be having a mid-life adventure living in Chattanooga. They have an adult son, and share their home with three rescued dogs and two rescued cats. An avid reader of non-fiction science and social science subjects, Dawn enjoys sewing and home renovation as hobbies.
Brooke Holder made the move to Chattanooga in early 2016 from Atlanta, Georgia. Over the past year she has fallen in love with Tennessee and believes she has found the perfect life balance. In her free time, she likes to explore trails and rivers with her dog, Arlo, and play Appalachian music. From an early age, Brooke has been a competitive athlete and a leader with an adventurous spirit. She found her passion for the arts after being inspired by an extended backpacking trip overseas and returned to the states to study graphic design at the Art Institute of Atlanta. Brooke brings with her over 12 years of experience ranging from her role as a senior designer at the American Cancer Society to her involvement with several non-profits and art organizations in Atlanta. Brooke enjoys talking to strangers and can find commonality in all walks of life. She has a zest for connecting people through music and art and helping to build a stronger sense of community. She is a mover and shaker by nature and is excited to be a part of such a vibrant and progressive city.
As an Anthropology and Art History graduate from East Tennessee State University, Kreneshia Whiteside has a bold passion for art and the respect of cultures. She has been surrounded by the arts since she began attending Center for Creative Arts in middle school. While there, her concentration was in vocal music and piano, but she developed an appreciation for the entire art world. Since then, she has decided that her career path would promote the importance of the arts to the community and encourage involvement. Kreneshia has been curating exhibitions since 2015 and has worked at The Hunter Museum of American Art, Frist Center for Visual Arts, and the Nelson Fine Art Center.
Mary Ollie Newman
Director of Development & Membership
Tennessee native Mary Ollie Newman is a graduate of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and has a life-long love of art and design to go along with a successful career in broadcast journalism and non-profit development. She served as news anchor and reporter at television stations in Florida. She was an anchor/reporter at the CBS-affiliate TV station in Hartford, Connecticut, and later served as Executive Producer at Connecticut Public Broadcasting, where she produced local and regional shows and also programming for PBS. She received two Emmy awards for her broadcast work in Connecticut.
Upon returning home to Chattanooga, she worked for six and a half years for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on development projects. In 2015, she became the Director of Development and underwriting for WUTC FM 88.1, Chattanooga’s National Public Radio affiliate station, where she implemented successful new strategies to raise funds for the non-profit station.
“I am thrilled to be at AVA. Art infinitely enriches all walks of life, and is such a wonderful part of the vibrant city of Chattanooga,” she said.
As a creative outlet, Mary Ollie enjoys designing with textiles and has a keen interest in interior design. Mary Ollie has two adult children and four wonderful grandchildren. She shares her home with two rescued dogs: Ken, a young standard poodle, and Lottie, a senior citizen Bichon Frise. In her free time, she enjoys reading non-fiction and creative cooking with a vegetarian emphasis.
Director, 4 Bridges Arts Festival
A South Carolina native, Phyllis Mescon is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and has lived in Chattanooga since 1982. She has been married to Jed Mescon for 27 years and they are parents to Caroline, who lives in Los Angeles and works in production for the television comedy, Modern Family.
Her career experience has centered on nonprofit administration, specifically working for art-related organizations or agencies that provide services to underserved audiences. An enthusiastic supporter of the 4 Bridges Arts Festival, she considers this job a perfect professional opportunity.
Association for Visual Arts 2016-2017 Board of Directors
Lisa Brock, President
Ricky Supan, President-Elect
Lindsay Richardson Hill, Secretary
Jonathan Frost, Treasurer
Mary Kilbride, Past President
Board of Directors
Larry Stone, Ex-Officio
Juanita Tumelaire, Ex-Officio