Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Elects New Trustees

Prominent figures from across the state commit to excellence in preservation

ATLANTA, June 18—Nine new members were elected to three-year terms on the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Board of Trustees. The new trustees are Leigh Burns (Atlanta), Les Callahan (Atlanta), Elaine Cook (Athens), David Freedman (Marietta), Jeff Hopper (Norcross), Erik LaVelle (Atlanta), Joe Smith (Madison/Athens), Todd Strickland (Atlanta) and Bobby West (Atlanta). Nick Bush (Macon) is the chairperson of Hay House and will serve as an ex-officio member of the board.

Leigh Burns of Atlanta is the director of community partnerships at the Fox Theatre. Burns oversees all grant programs, education, membership, statewide theater presenting and preservation partnerships. In addition to these programs, she assists in supporting the ongoing preservation of the 1929 National Historic Landmark theater in the heart of midtown Atlanta. She previously held positions with the Georgia Main Street Program and the Georgia Historic Preservation Division and is a longtime volunteer of the Georgia Trust.

Les Callahan of Atlanta is the president of First Colony Financial Corporation, a commercial real estate company. Involved with the Georgia Trust since 2009, Callahan is a Georgia Trust Emeritus Trustee and has served on the Executive Committee as well as the Finance, Endangered Properties, Rhodes Hall Capital Campaign, Places in Peril and Gala Fundraising Committees. Callahan’s challenge gift to Rhodes Hall’s “green rehabilitation” helped to ignite the Rhodes Hall Capital Campaign. He and his wife, Barbara, fund the Callahan Incentive Grant which has supported 14 preservation projects since 2017.

Elaine Cook of Athens has worked for Piedmont Athens Regional/Athens Regional Health System for 25 years. Cook was recently promoted to director of the Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation and the major gifts officer. Prior to this position, Cook served as director of community health and relations for the Northeast Georgia region of Piedmont Athens Regional. She has won multiple awards in recognition of her community leadership and mentoring of women.

David Freedman of Marietta is the principal of Freedman Engineering Group, an engineering firm specializing in outdoor recreation, historic preservation and projects that enhance the environment. His most notable projects include the restoration of the hydrotherapy pools and springs at Roosevelt’s Little White House, the Sapelo Island Lighthouse, the main house at Hardman Farm, one of the first restoration projects to achieve LEED certification, and the award-winning restoration of the Stone Tower at Fort Mountain State Park.

Jeff Hopper of Norcross is the president at LDI Reproprinting which specializes in large format architectural and construction printing. Hopper is very involved in the Norcross community and was chairman of the city’s architectural review board for more than 10 years, a former president of the Norcross Homeowners Association, and president of the Norcross Business Association in 2004 and 2005. He and his wife have restored a 1906 Queen Anne style home in Norcross and have been avid Georgia Trust ‘Ramblers’ for many years.

Erik LaValle of Atlanta is a senior director in the corporate performance improvement practice with Alvarez & Marsal. Prior to A&M, LaVelle led Product & Technology for the supply chain function at T-Mobile. He and his husband are very involved in the Atlanta community and their neighborhood of Ansley Park. They have meticulously renovated one of the oldest homes in Ansley Park, a 1905 Italian Renaissance Revival style home and graciously open it for nonprofit fundraisers, including the Georgia Trust’s Spring Ramble Preview Party.

Joe Smith of Madison and Athens is a principal of Architectural Collaborative in Athens and has participated in the rehabilitation of more than 100 historic structures in the state. His firm’s rehabilitation and restoration work has won several Georgia Trust preservation awards as well as recognition from AIA Atlanta and AIA Georgia. Smith teaches American architectural history and historic materials conservation to preservation graduate students, first at Georgia State University and currently at the University of Georgia. He recently authored the antebellum chapter for the Georgia Trust’s publication “Architecture of the Last Colony.”

Todd Strickland of Atlanta is a managing principal with Historical Concepts, a traditional architecture and planning firm in New York and Atlanta. Under his leadership, the firm has grown from a 3-person team to more than 55 architects, many of whom have been honored with the Georgia Trust’s Neel Reid Prize. Todd serves on the Peachtree City and Fayette County Development Authorities and is one of the founding members of the southeast chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Arts where he helped to create the notable Shutze Awards program.

Bobby West of Atlanta is the managing partner of TriBridge Residential, LLC, a multifamily housing development company with properties throughout the southeast. In addition to modern buildings, the company has repurposed and manages several historic industrial sites including the Porterdale Mill Lofts, the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts in Atlanta and the Brumby Lofts in Marietta. Bobby oversees the operating companies and divisions of TriBridge, including development, construction and management and is on the board of the Georgia and Atlanta Apartment Associations.

Nick Bush of Macon is the chairperson of Hay House and will serve as an ex-officio member of the board. Bush is an executive sales representative for the Houston office of The Hartford. He and his wife, Jeana, have lived in Macon for nine years, and they have two daughters.


About The Georgia Trust
Founded in 1973, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country’s leading statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. The Trust works for the preservation and revitalization of Georgia’s diverse historic resources and advocates their appreciation, protection and use.

The Georgia Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund and raises awareness of other endangered historic resources through an annual listing of Georgia’s “Places in Peril.” The Trust honors preservation projects and individuals with its annual Preservation Awards and recognizes students and professionals with the Neel Reid Prize and Liz Lyon Fellowship. The Trust offers a variety of educational programs for adults and children, provides technical assistance to property owners and historic communities, advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts, and manages two house museums in Atlanta (Rhodes Hall) and Macon (Hay House). To learn more, visit