A Letter From Paint Love’s Founder and Executive Director, Julie McKevitt
For years, I had a desire to start an arts-based nonprofit for kids, specifically for those facing childhood-trauma. I remember the day I shared this dream with my boyfriend (now husband). I was nervous he would laugh or brush it off. But he didn’t laugh...so naturally I married him. (Obviously there were other reasons too, He has really great hair 😉 and is kind and smart and great with kids...) A few years later, roughly five years ago, as newlyweds, my husband and I sat in a Cuban restaurant in midtown and wrote out plans for what would become Paint Love.
Starting Paint Love has been an incredibly personal journey. It has involved every aspect of my life, including my friends, my family, my mornings, weekends, and my nights. We sacrificed some of our wants financially to pursue this dream. But what surprised me in this journey is that so many people, who once were strangers, have given and sacrificed for the dream of Paint Love. And because of them, Paint Love has become an incredible force in Atlanta.
What started out as six programs in 2014 has turned into one of Atlanta’s most sought-after, trauma-informed art programs for youth, with more than 220 events since our founding. This year, Paint Love will serve our 10,000th student, and continue being a leader for change in the Atlanta area. This will also be the year I step into a new role with Paint Love. As my family transitions into a new phase, I knew the timing was right to step out of the role as executive director.
My friends and family closest to me asked if it would be the end of Paint Love. I’m so so humbled and honored to share that Paint Love is bigger than me and not only will it continue, but it will continue under the leadership of one of the most talented, creative and intelligent individuals I know. Laura Shaw will be Paint Love’s new Executive Director and I will transition to chairman of the board. If you have worked with Paint Love at all you know the important role Laura has played for several years now running operations, grant writing, and helping us plan and think strategically. I am so glad she wants to lead Paint Love into the future.
This move is not only the best possible decision for Paint Love, it’s the best decision for my family who has sacrificed so much for this dream. I will now be able to spend more time with my two girls and will put a lot of those Paint Love projects to practice in my kitchen with my three year old. Thank you for joining me on this personal journey, for praying, donating, listening, liking, and not totally blocking me when I asked you repeatedly for money. As Laura takes over I want her to feel welcomed and supported by the community that has carried me and this idea for so long. Thank you so much! I’m excited for what lies ahead.