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Susan Kessler Barnard

BA, Journalism and Public Relations; Certified Operating Technician


Susan Kessler Barnard

Susan Kessler Barnard is an Atlanta native, a long time Buckheadean, a mother of three sons, a grandmother of four and great-grandmother of two. She has been a longtime community activist particularly in the field of developmentally disabled children.

She has a BA in Journalism/Public Relations and a minor in Sociology/Anthropology from Georgia State University; she is a Certified Surgical Technician.

When Susan was 14, she began doing volunteer work in the children's ward at Grady Memorial Hospital. Through the years she worked in various clinics until she ended up in the surgical recovery room. After being dressed in scrubs and taken into operating suites, she knew that was where she belonged. She signed up for the Operating Room and Obstetrical Technician class at Grady and afterwards was given a full-time job. A few years later when Northside Hospital opened, she got a job in the operating room. Several years later, she went out on her own and became the first freelance surgical assistant in Atlanta; her card read:"CALL GIRL FOR THE OPERATING ROOM."

Susan was elected president of the Pleasant Hill (garden) Club. Because she was passionate about keeping nonresidential projects out of he neighborhood, she became a board member of the North by Northwest Civic Association and was chairman of Neighborhood Planning Unit A; zoning became her middle name. She and Edith Hammond became short-lived partners in Barnard, Hammond and Associates to help neighbors work with developers.

After a 25-year surgery career, she switched jobs and became a library assistant at the Atlanta History Center's Library/Archives. When she retired she turned to writing. Her book titles are: Dreams Die Hard: Family Histories of Adults with Developmental Disabilities as Told by Family and Caregivers; Arcadia's Images of America: Buckhead; Buckhead: A Place for All Time; and This is the Church Being the Church, a History of First Presbyterian Church, written with Harry A. Fifield. She was also a columnist for the Atlanta Buckhead and the Atlanta Midtown newspapers.

She and Grace M. Schwartzman have articles on the Muscogee (Creek) Indians in the University of Georgia's The Georgia Historical Quarterly.

After publishing Buckhead: A Place for All Time in 1996, Susan was asked to give a class on the history of Buckhead at the Life Long Learning Institute, the forerunner of OLLI. She then became a student and a teacher.

Susan currently serves on OLLI's Advisory Board, is a member of the Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society, the Buckhead Heritage Society, the Atlanta History Center, and she is a docent at the Breman Jewish Heritage Museum's Holocaust exhibit. She was a longtime member of Buckhead Library's board.

Other Civic Contributions
1. Is a member of the Greater Atlanta Archaeological Society
2. GARS board member (archaeological society)
3. A founder and past chairman of The Atlanta Group Home, Inc. - a group home for developmentally disabled adults
4. Organizer and past chairman of the Havanah Religious School for the developmentally disabled
5. A founder and past chairman of Arbor Academy, Inc. a special education school
6. Fulton County Mental Health/Mental Retardation board member
7. A president of the Pleasant Hill (garden) Club
8. A board member of the North by Northwest Civic Association
9. A past chairman Neighbor Planning Unit-A
10. A member of the Atlanta Planning and Advisory Board
11. League of Women Voters
12. Volunteer at the Tullie Smith House, Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens' Mary Lee Brookshire Award (1983)