Meet Our Board Members


Mary Charles Howard

Executive Director, Athensmade

Mary Charles began as Executive Director of Athensmade in October 2016. Her Athens experience began 13 years prior in 2003, when she moved to Athens from her hometown of Sandersville, Georgia to begin as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia’s College of Environment + Design program, where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture. In 2010, Mary Charles launched four companies in Athens, with Athens Food Tours being the most well-known.

Athens Food Tours quickly gained traction with the addition of Agro Cycle Tours (bicycle farm tours) in 2011. Mary Charles rebranded her food tour business as Georgia Food Tours in 2013, offering Agro Cycle Tours and restaurant tours across the state. Mary Charles sold both Athens (Georgia) Food Tours and the Agro Cycle Tours to new owners in March 2016. She continues to assist the new owner of Athens Food Tours by leading tours of Athens when possible. 

The Perspective on Progress Tour, an economic familiarization tour of both Athens-Clarke & Oconee Counties, led Mary Charles into her first experience of community development. She was hired as the project manager for the inaugural Perspective on Progress Tour in 2012 and has been actively involved in each familiarization tour since, managing both the 2014 and 2016 tours which hosted national site selectors and GA state project managers in Athens. Mary Charles stays active in local and statewide economic development, currently serving on the 2017 Athens Red Carpet Planning Committee and as a member of the Georgia Economic Developers Association. 

Mary Charles and her husband Keenan are expecting their second child in January 2017. She is the President of the Sandersville Tree Board, a member of the Transylvania Club and a member the First Christian Church of Sandersville. In her spare time, Mary Charles enjoys cultivating her passions as a gardener and artist.