Latham named new Executive Director of Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center

HIDDENITE, NC (March 2, 2020) – The Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center Board of Directors is pleased to announce the promotion of Donna Gant Latham to executive director. At its most recent meeting, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to promote Latham, who just completed a six-month term as assistant director. The promotion became effective on March 1.

Karen Walker, who has worked for the Center for 35 years, will resume the duties of assistant director as she was before serving as interim director. Several months ago, Walker informed the board that rather than retiring, she would like to take a role with less responsibilities prompting the board to hire Latham as assistant director for a six-month term.

Mary Beth White, President of the Board of Directors, is excited to have Latham as the center’s new leader.

“Donna exudes enthusiasm, and she has a true love for the arts, culture, and heritage,” White stated. “I believe she will be a tremendous asset to our organization as we continue to provide valuable arts programming while keeping an eye on the future. On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am happy to welcome her to our dedicated team.”

Latham, an Alexander County native who has resided in the Wittenburg community for 27 years, said she is ecstatic to lead Alexander County’s premier arts organization.

“I look forward to the opportunity to serve and promote the Hiddenite Arts and Heritage Center, our artists and craftspeople, and above all to serve our community through quality educational classes, programming, and events as we enrich lives through exposure to art. In my own life, I have experienced first-hand how art can positively impact one’s life, from inspiration to healing to empowerment,” Latham related. “I invite the citizens of Alexander County to take advantage of this amazing ‘gem’ we have right here at our own back door. I am very grateful for this opportunity and will do my best to build upon the legacy of R.Y. and Eileen Sharpe. We are so fortunate to have this incredible place, and we will work to further the founders’ legacy as we look to grow in the coming months and years.”

Latham is married to Derek Latham, who is a sales associate for BSN Sports. She is the daughter of Harry and Peggy Gant of Taylorsville.

Latham attended Hiddenite Elementary School, East Junior High School, and graduated from Alexander Central High School. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a concentration in Horticulture in 1987 from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Prior work experience includes Fan Club Operations for NASCAR, restaurant management, owner/operator of Midtown Garden Market in North Wilkesboro, and director of Habitat for Humanity ReStores of Lincoln County. She is also a founding member of The Ya Yas Band, which has performed at numerous regional venues.

“I feel that my career path has brought me full circle back to the Hiddenite community where I attended school and explored the backwoods, dirt roads, and byways of an incredible place that I am proud to call home,” Latham said with a smile. “Many people pass by the Lucas Mansion on a daily basis who have never been inside to experience the rich arts and heritage inside, and we are going to work diligently to create awareness of the Hiddenite Arts and Heritage Center and the many things we have to offer.”

The Hiddenite Arts & Heritage Center’s staff is pictured above from left to right: seated – Cathy Rhyne, Receptionist; Donna Latham, Executive Director; Karen Walker, Assistant Director; and Allison Houchins, Director of Education; standing – Shirley Flowers, Housekeeper; Pat Cockrell, Finance Officer; Robert Walker, Maintenance Supervisor; Clara Parsons, Housekeeper; and Miranda Burgin, Director of Communications; not pictured – Martha Burgin, Assistant Director of Education; Geneva Mays, Receptionist/Gift Shop Manager; and Roxanne Byers, Housekeeper for Educational Complex.