Executive Director John W. Bateman
In 2017, in a strategic move forward, the Board of Directors voted to hire its first-ever Executive Director, John W. Bateman. A graduate of Starkville High School, John is a former attorney and published writer with extensive nonprofit experience. He spent a decade advising more than 100 private foundations across a broad range of issues, helping distribute well over $100 million in awards. From 2010 to 2015, John served as the Administrative Officer of The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation in NYC, managing compliance, grant making, and other functions. He recently finished his Master of Arts in English from the University at Buffalo’s Innovative Writing program and is an active, published writer whose first short film, The Bench Project: Lost and Found (2015), won several awards at various festivals including Best Script and Best Director. His southern gothic novel, Who Killed Buster Sparkle?, is anticipated for publication release in spring 2019. John’s experience as a working artist will help ensure that SAAC continues to build programming that meets the needs of the Starkville arts community.
Email John here.
Email John here.
Board of Directors
Walter Diehl, President
Walter J. Diehl is an avid domestic and world traveler and an amateur travel photographer. His photograph “Kittiwakes at the Glacier” won 1st prize in photography at the 2012 SAAC Cotton District Arts Festival, and “North Pole or Bust” was a finalist in the 2012 National Geographic Expedition Photography contest. Walter regularly shows photographs at the Greater Starkville Development Partnership office. He and his wife Susan have been members of SAAC for many years. Walter serves on the Art in Public Places Committee and has served as co-chair of the Student Art Competition for the Cotton District Arts Festival in 2015 & 2016. He was elected to the SAAC Board of Directors in 2015, to the office of President-elect in 2016, and to the office of President in 2017. Both Susan and Walter are contributing patrons of the Starkville Community Theater and have at different times served on the SCT Board of Directors as well as several ad-hoc committees. Walter is Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences and Associate Dean Emeritus of Arts & Sciences at Mississippi State University where he also served as President of the Robert Holland Faculty Senate, Interim head of Anthropology & Middle Eastern Cultures, and most recently in retirement, Interim Head of Biological Sciences.
Rachael Potts, Treasurer
Rachael Potts and her husband Parrish recently relocated to Starkville from Tupelo to open a Mortgage Branch for Gum Tree Mortgage Company. But Rachael isn’t new to the area: she graduated from Mississippi State University in 2003 with a Bachelor of Science degree. She is excited to be back, not only because of potential business growth, but also because of the diverse community and its numerous projects and events. Rachael is a gardener, a self-proclaimed foodie, and florist-upon-request. Her other hobbies include golf, music, and reading.
Jon Turner, Past President
Jon Turner has been manager of public relations and marketing at 4-County Electric Power Association since 2009, following 15 years of experience in broadcast television including News Director of WCBI-TV in Columbus. A proud graduate of Mississippi State University, he holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication. His wife, Lee Ann, is a local attorney and his daughter Samantha is a student at Starkville High School. Although he has no real artistic talent of his own, he comes from a long line of talented amateur artists and musicians. The talent must have skipped a generation, because Samantha has already fallen in love with the stage and never misses an opportunity to be a part of any local production she can. Jon believes the arts are essential in building a vibrant community worth living in.
Angella Baker, Secretary
Angella Baker is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Policy and Administration at MSU, while remaining active in a variety of arts and civic organizations. Not only is Angella the current SAAC Secretary, she also chaired our 2017 Forks & Corks event! One project of special interest to Angella is the Magnolia Film Festival, the oldest film festival in Mississippi, where she is Board President. She also serves as Vice President and Campaign Chair for the United Way of North Central Mississippi Board of Directors, serves as President of the MSU Women's Club, and is a member of the President's Commission on the Status of Women and the Mississippi Association of Pageant Judges.
In her spare time (well, what’s left after everything else), she mentors several Mississippi State students and is backup keyboardist for the Starkville Community Church praise band and Media Shout operator. She also enjoys spending time with her family and pets and supporting the MSU Bulldogs every possible chance.
Additional Board Members
Henri Sue Kennard
Thomas La Foe
Samuel Lawson, Jr.