Leanne Rubenstein—Executive Director
Leanne Rubenstein brings over 20 years of non-profit experience to Compassionate Atlanta. She has an extensive background working in a leadership capacity with non-profit organizations and serves on several non-profit boards. Leanne’s passion for social justice has led her to take her degree in Special Education and her Master’s level training in counseling to a wider audience through program leadership, fundraising and development. As a passionate storyteller, Leanne has transformed her program development and leadership skills into helping the wider community understand the impact of their voices and their philanthropy in order to make a positive impact in their communities and worldwide. Contact Leanne at Leanne@CompassionateAtl.org.
Gunawork Wondimneh—Communications and Outreach Associate
As a native Ethiopian who moved to the US at the age of 9, Gunawork is a natural cross-cultural ambassador. She is a Georgia State University student studying Marketing and Computer Information Systems—and an active member of the GSU and Clarkston, GA communities. Contact Gunawork at Info@CompassionateAtl.org.
Candace is the owner and operator of Phoenix and Dragon Bookstore in Sandy Springs, Georgia. Candace does countless amounts of volunteer work in the community and is involved with multiple community organizations. Candace is also a member of Compassionate Sandy Springs.
Rev. Dr. William E. Flippin, Jr.
The Rev. Dr. William Edward Flippin, Jr., is senior pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Atlanta. He is the first African-American pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, a multicultural congregation. He was born in Nashville, TN, and his formative years and training were developed and nurtured in Atlanta. He is a 1998 graduate of Morehouse College where he majored in History and minored in Religion. He furthered his education at Emory University, Candler School of Theology receiving the Master of Theology (Th.M.) degree in 2003 and an additional Th.M. in 2005 from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. He received his Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) in Transformational Leadership from Ashland Theological Seminary, Ashland OH. His dissertation project developed a new ecclesiological model for Lutherans and Baptists based on John, Chapter 3 and Spirit Baptism.
He’s married and has one daughter. Bill’s mantra is found in Matthew 20:26 “the greatest among you shall be your servant”. He is committed to serving this present age and being a true shepherd-servant leader.
Sue Gilman is an Atlanta native and has been involved with Compassionate Atlanta since its first meeting. She has been practicing and studying Buddhism since the 1980s and teaching meditation for more than 15 years. Sue was recently appointed a Shastri (mentor of teachers) for the Shambhala Meditation Center of Atlanta. She has been involved in non-profit leadership for many years, most recently as the Executive Director of The Wren’s Nest Museum in Atlanta. Sue was the first Director of Sky Lake Lodge in the Hudson Valley in New York, and the Director of Development at Karme Choling in Vermont, both contemplative practice and retreat centers. She is a passionate environmental advocate and has developed a program of conversations on race both at the Atlanta Shambhala Center and in the broader Atlanta community.
Pam has been a volunteer with Compassionate Atlanta since October 2013, and is currently directing the Mindfulness initiative. Prior to retirement, Pam enjoyed a career as a Special Educator. Pam has a M.Ed. in Special Education, Emotional Disturbances, and taught children with special needs in a variety of settings including a public school classroom, psycho-educational center and psychiatric hospital. Pam has devoted the last 29 years to raising a family and performing community service, including serving on Boards of Trustees at independent schools such as Cliff Valley School and The Paideia School. She also volunteered with the Georgia Council on Child Abuse, Jewish Family and Career Services, International Rescue Committee, First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta and Shepherd Spinal Center. She is married with 3 grown children and her favorite hobbies are tennis, biking, yoga, and reading.
Susan is a nurse, cancer survivor, health and wellness advocate, and owner of MOON Organics, a holistic skincare company. Susan was a member of the core group that founded Compassionate Atlanta and is very devoted to making a positive difference in her beautiful city. She is the author of 100 Perks of Having Cancer plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It and has hosted several holistic health and wellness retreats and conferences. She is certified in plant-based nutrition, a certified clinical aromatherapist and certified cancer coach. Susan believes in the strength of a healthy community and currently serves on the board of directors for Morningside Farmers Market, Atlanta’s only local organic market.
Coleman G. Howard
Coleman G. Howard is a writer/blogger, a motivational speaker, a life coach, a human activist, and a T-shirt designer. He uses his writings and T-shirt affirmations to motivate, encourage, and teach others to heal and live their best life. Mr. Howard is also leading a movement that is centered on the pillars: Truth, Love and Compassion. He believes you must have truth, love, and compassion in your heart for yourself and others, in order to change the world we live in.
Rob Johnson is the former Vice-President of Community Services at the Atlanta Community Food Bank. He retired this year after 29 years with the organization. Rob came to the Food Bank in 1987 after co-founding and living in the Open Door Community, the first residential community for the homeless. Prior to that he had worked with the United Methodist Church-related Wesley Community Centers developing meals-on-wheels programs in 4 metro-Atlanta counties and serving as that organization’s first full-time fundraising/resource developer. Between 1997 and 2012, Rob served as ACFB’s Chief Operating Officer and was instrumental in developing and clarifying our vision for more shared decision-making and developing a systems approach to overall organizational development. In 2012 as part of an overall organization restructuring preparing for senior management succession expected in the next decade, Rob’s COO position was decentralized and he became VP of Community Services. Rob holds a Master’s Degree in Social Psychology from the University of Georgia.
Rena has been involved with Compassionate Atlanta since its initial meeting in the Fall of 2013. Rena is the Former Financial Aid Director at the Art Institute of Atlanta, a member of Covenant Presbyterian Church, a board member and treasurer of Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, a board member of Buckhead Christian Ministry, a volunteer account manager at American Association of Adapted Sports Programs, a member of the Women’s Federation for World Peace, a member of the American Clergy Leadership Conference, and a proud mother and grandmother.
An Atlanta native, Felicia joined the Compassionate Atlanta Board in 2017. Felicia is currently the Director of Student Life at The Galloway School. She has 22 years of experience working in independent schools in Atlanta as a classroom teacher and administrator. Beyond the classroom, Felicia is passionate about lifelong learning and growing leaders and has led several workshops to help students and adults reach their greatest potential, including annual presentations at the BOLD Summit in Atlanta, GA and the Women’s Leadership Institute in Boston, MA. Felicia has also worked as a consultant for the College Board and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to create teaching units for topics in Epidemiology, and she has worked with several independent schools in the Atlanta area on a variety of issues around student life, diversity and curriculum development.
Jessica Smith was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She has lived in the metro Atlanta area with her two sons and dog for over 11 years. During the past 11 plus years, Jessica worked as the office manager and an associate financial advisor in a private wealth advisory practice. In addition to the licenses that she’s required to hold as an associate financial advisor, she also has an Associate’s degree in Applied Arts and Sciences in the area of Corrections and is a Certified Professional Life Coach.
After serving American Baptist Churches in Kansas, OH, and—for 30 years—as Senior Minister of the Lake Street Church in Evanston, IL, Bob retired in November of 2010. Moving to Atlanta in 2011, he engaged the Atlanta interfaith community and helped to organize the Compassionate Atlanta Leadership Team in 2013. He is Minister Emeritus of the Lake Street Church and Chair Emeritus of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Sheila Virani is a Change Management consultant, helping organizations undergo transformation and large scale change initiatives. She also has over ten years of experience teaching high school students and training pre-service teachers to prepare for the school year. Sheila participates in youth programming via camps and supplementary education programs and looks forward to bringing the Charter to this age segment in and around Atlanta.
Anré D. Washington has worked as a children’s policy advocate and political strategist. Over the past three years Anré has helped manage several coalitions that advance data driven and fact based children’s policy at the state and federal level. That has included juvenile justice, children’s mental and behavioral health, and opioid and substance abuse policies. Anré is a cum laude graduate of Morehouse College.
A Georgia native, Travis Wright joined the Compassionate Atlanta board in early 2016. He is passionate about building community and fostering dialogue through the support of non-profits and the promotion of cross-cultural communication. He has a wide-ranging, diverse history of experience and interest including, non-profit management, public-policy development, project management, the resettlement of refugees, and the arts. He holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from Georgia State University and a BS from Berry College. Travis and his husband live in Roswell along with a small menagerie of rescued pets.
Gareth is a radio show host, a blogger, and a regular speaker and leader on topics of authenticity, intimacy and curiosity—central to a New Business Mindset. As an independent businessman, he has been able to develop a very successful livelihood and at the same time cultivate his spiritual path. Gareth is very active in interfaith work. A couple of years after being ordained a Zen Buddhist priest, Gareth left formal Zen practice to co-found Red Clay Sangha, an Atlanta Buddhist community. He has served as president of the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta and is a regular observer of Ramadan, the Jewish High Holidays, and other faith and interfaith events. He is engaged with a number of other interfaith and social justice organizations, serving on boards and participating in grass roots activism. He has written a number of books, including two novels, and contributed to several others. Gareth is a father of two almost-adult children.