Luncheon will honor community leaders, raise funds for arts scholarships

Event will also honor the career of Dean Joseph Meeks

For media inquiries: Scott Singleton
770-499-3214 or


The 2011 Flourish Award recipients were (from left) The Georgia Ballet, represented by Pattie Pearlberg Michele Ziemann-DeVos and Gina Hyatt-Mazon, Jennie Collier-Johnston (art educator), Robert J. Farley (arts leader)
and Bill Pinto (community service)

Photo by Tracie L. Hinnant

KENNESAW, Ga. (August 28, 2012)

The Kennesaw State University College of the Arts will present its annual Flourish Awards at the Final Flourish Luncheon on Friday, Sept. 28, at 11:30 a.m. at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. The awards will be presented to Dennis Hanthorn; Alfred L. Watkins of Lassiter High School; Pam Carsillo, retired Cobb County art educator; and the Center for Puppetry Arts.

Approximately 300 guests are expected to attend the luncheon, which is anticipated to raise more than $100,000 to benefit scholarships and student-learning initiatives in the KSU College of the Arts. This year's luncheon will also honor the career of Joseph Meeks, dean of the College of the Arts, who will be retiring on Feb. 1, 2013 after 38 years of service at KSU and 14 years as the college's founding dean.

“I could not be more grateful for my career to be recognized during this valuable fundraising luncheon,” said Meeks. “Throughout my career as an administrator, I have understood that it was critical to increase scholarship endowments in order to ensure that Kennesaw State attracted and retained the best and brightest students. Thanks to the incredible support we have received from the community, we have been successful in building a strong foundation for scholarships. Since 2002, these annual fundraising events have generated more than $1 million.”

The Flourish Awards honor those who have helped the arts flourish in Georgia. They are presented in four categories.

The award for an Arts Leader will be presented to Dennis Hanthorn, general director of The Atlanta Opera from 2004 to 2012. Under his leadership, the opera eliminated its debt, moved to the Cobb Energy Centre and completed a $10.9 million fundraising campaign, while offering four productions each season for audiences from throughout the Southeast. Hanthorn has been heralded for expanding the company’s repertoire and attracted high-quality talent, about which the Atlanta Journal Constitution noted,  “The dramatic improvement in talent — onstage and in the pit — is a measure of how many leagues they’ve traveled in just a few years.” During this time period, The Atlanta Opera increased ticket sales, with 120% improvement during its first two years at Cobb Energy Centre.

The award for an Art Educator will be presented to Alfred L. Watkins, who has served as director of bands at Lassiter High School since 1982. Under his leadership the Lassiter Band has grown from its original 78 members to its present size of 350 music students. The program now includes five symphonic bands, two separate marching bands, a jazz band and numerous performing chamber ensembles, with students performing for President Reagan, at the World’s Fair and the Rose Parade. Additionally, Watkins was named “Teacher of the Year” in 1978 and Star Teacher in 1982, 1983, 1989, 1994, and 1997.  He is a member of Kappa Kappa Psi Band Fraternity, Phi Beta Mu, National Band Association, Black Music Caucus, Music Educators National Conference and World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, and he serves on the Band Selection Committee of the John Philip Sousa Foundation.

The award for Community Service will be presented to community activist and retired art educator Pam Carsillo. In addition to 31 years as a teacher, Carsillo has been actively engaged with numerous community organizations, including the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust and Georgia Special Olympics. She has served as a county and state art judge for the Governor’s Honors Program and written art lessons for Brown Publishing and McGraw Hill. She has judged art shows for the Dogwood Arts Festival, created and sold soup bowls to benefit MUST Ministries and carved pumpkins to benefit Habitat for Humanity. She often involved her students in these projects and frequently mentored art education students from local universities.

The award for an Arts Organization will be presented to the Center for Puppetry Arts, located in Atlanta. Founded in 1978 by Vincent Anthony and under the creative direction of Jon Ludwig, the Center has introduced millions of visitors to the art of puppetry and has touched the lives of many through innovative performances, curriculum-based workshops, a hands-on museum, distance-learning programs and outreach programs. Through every performance and educational initiative, the Center strives to maintain its values of unlocking imagination, inspiring every generation and providing awesome artistic experiences. In 2007, the Center was selected as the proposed repository of much of famed puppeteer Jim Henson’s collection, for which it hopes to build a museum. The Center has been recognized for success in management and innovative programs by The Ford Foundaton.

Major sponsors of the 2012 Flourish Luncheon so far include Bobbie Bailey, Bill & Nina Beddingfield, Coca-Cola, The ColorSpot, Jo Ann A. Durham, Barbara Kirby and the Atlanta Steinway Society, Georgia Symphony Orchestra, Lockheed Martin and Audrey B. Morgan. Sponsorships are still available.

The event is being organized by a volunteer committee that includes chair Chad Massaker of Carceron and committee members Trina Bazarte of Seyfarth Shaw, Mike Feldberg of The Color Spot, Pamela Hubby of Kennesaw State University, Mark McKenzie of DocQMax Digital Printing, Patrick Ridley of Fifth Third Bank, Mike Russell of Elite Telecom Services, Judy Sparks of Smartegies and Wesley Wicker of Sinclair Townes. The recipients of Flourish Awards were selected by a committee that included artist Linda Flournoy, Livvy Lipson of Journeys Unlimited, Mark Wallace Maguire of Cobb Life and Cherokee Life Magazines, Cheryl Oglesby of Piedmont Henry Medical Center, Howard Pousner of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Lois Reitzes of WABE Radio.

For more information about the luncheon, visit the luncheon's web site or call 770-499-3214.


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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering more than 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the 35-unit University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of more than 24,100 students from 130 countries.

The KSU College of the Arts is one of only four Georgia institutions to have achieved full national accreditation for all of its arts departments.


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The College of the Arts at Kennesaw State University supports, defends and promotes academic freedom in artistic expression, as outlined by the American Association of University Professors, and diversity of all kinds as outlined by the university's Human Relations Position Statement.

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