By Jac Kuntz
In 2013, the Georgia Center for Nonprofits honored Susannah Darrow (M.A. '13) in their list of top 30 nonprofit leaders under the age 30. In 2014, Georgia Trend Magazine named her one of the state’s 40 top leaders under age 40. This year, Georgia State University added to the art history grad's accolades by celebrating her as one of its distinguished 40 Under 40 alumni for 2019.
Initiated in 2018, the 40 Under 40 program honors the most influential graduates under age 40 who embody the values of Georgia State.
“There are remarkable doers, creators, innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs — individuals making their mark in every imaginable field — among Georgia State University alumni,” said Christina Million (MBA '01), associate vice president of alumni relations.
Darrow, whose career titles include founder, leader, organizer, director, civic adviser and, most recently, business owner and arts consultant, is making a difference in Atlanta’s thriving arts scene.
While a student at the Ernest G. Welch School of Art & Design, she co-founded BURNAWAY, a prominent digital visual arts magazine that’s become a leading voice of critical art coverage in Atlanta and throughout the South. Her experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, community engagement and program design set her up for her subsequent role as executive director of the Atlanta online arts publication ArtsATL from 2015-17. While at ArtsATL, she established the prestigious Luminary Awards, which have celebrated and built connections with creative professionals and organizations not only in the visual arts, but also in the music, theatre, literature and cinema.
Darrow credits the Georgia State community with formative experiences that helped develop and strengthen her creative career.
“The peers, faculty, staff and administration are some of the greatest minds working in the city of Atlanta and their reach extends far beyond the classroom,” she said. “Staying involved with the university has been an infinite resource both in the College of the Arts and beyond.”
Darrow remains plugged into the Georgia State community in a number of capacities. She's taught “Critical Issues in Contemporary Art” at the university, serves as a guest speaker for undergraduate classes and lends her expert critique for graduate studios visits. During her time at BURNAWAY, she designed a workshop series for arts writing and developed a partnership with the school to provide a scholarship for an arts history graduate student.
Darrow has been a vital member of many boards and committees in Atlanta’s nonprofit creative sectors including Art Papers, the Forward Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award and the Hudgens Prize. She serves on the boards of the Georgia Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Advisory Committee for Atlanta Celebrates Photography.
In the Atlanta community, Darrow considers her civic role with the city, District 2 arts and culture adviser to Atlanta City Council member Amir Farokhi, her most significant line of work.
“We’ve worked to double city funding for the arts,” she said, “and created a cultural plan for the district with the support of a dynamic and diverse group of community leaders, along with opportunities for new voices to be heard at the city level.”
Last year, she started her own arts consulting firm, Susannah Darrow Consulting, that specializes in arts and culture engagement, nonprofit strategy and corporate social engagement. The consultancy offers services from creative partnerships and research to events production and design, and it keeps her connected and on the pulse of Atlanta’s rapidly growing creative sphere.