Paint Love

Meet Laura: Paint Love's New Executive Director!

Laura Shaw Executive Director of Paint Love bringing arts to youth facing poverty and trauma trauma informed arts programming in Atlanta

A Letter from Laura Shaw: Paint Love’s New Executive Director

Hello Paint Love community!

I am so honored to be reaching out to you as the new Executive Director of Paint Love. When I first heard about Paint Love in 2015, I deeply connected with the mission and knew I wanted to be a part of this work. I officially joined the Paint Love team in 2016 as the Community Engagement Coordinator, and have served as the Operations Manager since 2017. I have learned so much working alongside Julie for the last three years, and am so humbled to be a part of carrying forward the incredible organization she dreamt and built. 

The arts have always been a huge part of my life- growing up, I danced with a ballet company in Memphis that performed and taught in under-served schools. I earned my master's degree from Boston University and have almost a decade of experience working with a wide range of nonprofit arts and educational programming, including the Fox Theatre's community outreach program, and The Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. I believe the arts are life-giving and worth-affirming, and can bring tremendous healing and fun to youth like those Paint Love serves, who are often facing some pretty tough circumstances. 

I am so excited for this next phase with Paint Love and incredibly thankful for the massive amount of support Julie and I have received during this transition. But we do need your help: through volunteering your time, donating money and supplies, showing up, and sharing our work, to support our crazy vision to bring more extraordinary art projects to even more extraordinary kids. I hope you'll join me as Paint Love continues to carry out our mission and make a big impact for the organizations, schools, communities, and youth we serve.

With gratitude, 

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A Letter From Julie

A Letter From Paint Love’s Founder and Executive Director, Julie McKevitt

Julie McKevitt Paint Love founder and founding executive director

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.

Julie and Aaron McKevitt Paint Love arts programming for kids Atlanta

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.

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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.

Sincerely,

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Art Impacts... Art strengthens communication for kids who've experienced domestic violence.

Discover more about Paint Love's impact.

Paint Love utilizes the power of the arts to make an impact on youth who are facing some of life’s most difficult circumstances. It is our hope that every child, teen, and young adult that experiences a Paint Love program will discover inner strength, to help them face the adversity in their life. 

One demographic we work with is children who have experienced domestic violence.  Through our partnership with the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence, we have been able to carefully curate programs that address the specific needs of this group. 

Kids who have experienced violence at home often find it challenging or even physically impossible to talk about their experiences. Trauma such as domestic violence can directly interfere with the part of the brain that manages language capacity, impeding development and leaving children with limited capacity to communicate verbally. Artistic expression engages parts of the brain that don’t rely on verbalization, so art can help them to find their  voice, and know that what they have to say matters.

Artist Nikita Raper led kids at Camp PEACE in creating these amazing clay platters. They designed the patterns, cut and glazed the pieces, and Nikita fired them in the kiln, bringing out these incredible colors. Research shows that allowing kids who’ve experienced trauma like those we serve with Camp PEACE, the chance to achieve a sense of mastery and participation in something they enjoy, helps them learn that their efforts matter, and they matter.

Camp PEACE is the summer program of the Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence. WRCDV “strive[s] to meet the immediate and long-term needs of the diverse community of battered women and their children with programs that promote safety, compassion, connection, advocacy, and prevention.” 


Because of the generosity of the Paint Love community, we have been able to offer them over 20 art projects, to serve over 200 students over three years!