Governor Brian Kemp congratulates recipients of the 2021 Governor’s Awards for the Arts & Humanities, presented by the Office of the Governor in partnership with the Georgia Council for the Arts and Georgia Humanities.
Atlanta History Center President & CEO Sheffield Hale has been awarded the prestigious Governor’s Award for Arts and Humanities for his lifetime commitment to history and historic preservation in the state of Georgia.
Since the start of his tenure at Atlanta History Center in 2012, Hale has pursued landmark projects and initiatives, including the move of The Battle of Atlanta cyclorama to a newly constructed facility at the institution’s Buckhead campus and the creation of the Confederate Monument Interpretation Guide, which offered research support to communities around the country.
Sheffield has had an incredibly positive impact on Atlanta and, indeed, the Southeast, for many years.
“His now 10-year leadership of the Atlanta History Center has further cemented his position as a thoughtful leader imploring us to examine more closely the elements of our political and economic system and identifying areas for improvement,” said Howard Palefsky, Chair of the Atlanta History Center Board of Trustees.
The award comes at an important time for the Hale and Atlanta History Center, which recently launched a new strategic plan focused on connecting people, history and culture to strengthen community and democracy. Also, Atlanta History Center will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2026.
“We will hold democracy at the center of our research, scholarship and storytelling,” Hale said. “As people across our city, state and country consider what it means to create a functioning democracy by and for everyone, the Atlanta History Center will use its resources to explore the history of the components that make a healthy democratic system. We will be a home for meaningful conversations.”
Hale took the reins of the Atlanta History Center after a career in corporate and non-profit law. His involvement in the humanities stretches back to his young adult years, when, inspired by the passion and involvement of his parents, Anne Sheffield Hale and Bradley Hale, he took an interest in history and historic preservation. After majoring in history at the University of Georgia then pursuing a law career as Partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and later Chief Counsel of the American Cancer Society, Inc, Hale continued to develop this passion by becoming deeply involved in statewide causes and organizations.
Ernest Greer, Former Chair, Atlanta History Center Board of Trustees, introduces Sheffield Hale in Hale’s award acceptance message.
His civic involvement over the years includes the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, Atlanta History Center, Fox Theater and Fox Theater Institute, the University of Georgia Press, University of Georgia Jere Morehead Honors College and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in addition to other projects. He also served as the co-chair for the City of Atlanta Advisory Committee on Monuments and Street Names Associated with the Confederacy in 2017 and as Chair of the State of Georgia’s Judicial Nominating Commission.
Hale also plays an active role in community revitalization efforts around the city of Atlanta through the lens of historic preservation, including in the Sweet Auburn Historic District. He has received the Sweet Auburn Works Preservation Champion Award in 2016 and currently serves on the Board of the organization.
Georgia Humanities, the Office of the Governor, and the Georgia Council for the Arts sponsor the annual Governor’s Awards for the Arts & Humanities. The awards pay tribute to the most distinguished citizens and organizations that have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to work in the humanities and arts.
In addition to Hale, 2021 award recipients include Didi Dunphy (Clarke County), Lyrika Holmes (Cobb County), Donald L. Lovette (Liberty County), Marquice L. Williams (Chatham County), Dad’s Garage Theater (Fulton County), Georgia Council on Economic Education (Fulton County, but serving all of Georgia), Out of Hand Theater (Fulton County), Synchronicity Theater (Fulton County), and The Hambidge Center (Rabun County). Past award winners from Atlanta include Susan Booth, Lucinda Bunnen, Pearl Cleage, Lisa Cremin, Leslie Gordon, Virginia Hepner, Kenny Leon, Lois Reitzes, and Robert Spano.