Savannah, Ga. – August 18, 2022 – The Savannah African Art Museum in collaboration with the historic Carnegie Library will host a “Telling Your Story” Workshop at 11 a.m. on August 27 at the Carnegie Library, located on 537 East Henry Street in Savannah.

This workshop will celebrate Carnegie Library’s 108th anniversary and its remarkable journey by having attendees write their stories. Attendees will create a personalized journal to begin authoring their own stories by expressing who they are, their gifts/talents, victories, aspirations, and more. They will have access to African print fabric, Adinkra symbol stamps and other stamps to design and decorate their journals; along with a list of Affirmations, African Proverbs and Quotes as inspirations to get started. Attendees are invited to bring a photo of themselves to personalize their journals.

This activity will be accompanied by viewing a Ted Talk video from award-winning Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, entitled “The Danger of a Single Story.” She shares how she found her authentic cultural voice and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk crucial misunderstandings.

“Storytelling is an art that takes many mediums, whether it be through the spoken word, written word, performance arts or visual arts. We feel it is so important for all people to have a platform to create their own life narratives and share their stories, said the museum’s Education and Outreach Coordinator, Lisa Jackson. “We are proud to collaborate with the Carnegie Library  with this workshop, engaging in the African tradition of storytelling and celebrating the library’s story!

This workshop is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. To learn more about the museum, upcoming workshops, and the museum’s newest collections, please visit and follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @SavannahAfricanArtMuseum.

The Savannah African Art Museum is a nonprofit institution that introduces all audiences to African art and culture. Its mission is to provide engaging experiences that educate and start conversations about the power, diversity, and spirituality of African art.

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For media inquiries, please contact Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950, Allie Robinson at or 912-547-3100, or the LFPR office at 912-417-5377.


Like much of the world last week I was very sad to hear of the passing of Olivia Newton John. I was twelve years old when the iconic movie Grease starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John was released, and my friends and I were all obsessed with it. I was a well brought up English girl in a traditional and strict all-girls school just outside London, but all of us had a crush on ‘Danny’ played by Travolta, and we all wanted to be ‘Sandy’ – Newton John’s character. It all seemed so exciting – not just the 1950s era in which it was set but what we regarded as the glamor of American high school life. Drive in movies, graduating high school, and not having to wear a boring English school uniform all seemed very cool indeed. We loved the bright, colorful dresses and pink jackets, and even today I still can’t bear to wear the murky green color from my school’s uniform color, which even extended to itchy green underwear! So my girlfriends and I thought Sandy, Frenchy, Marty, Jan and Rizzo seemed to live fantastically different and exotic lives.

This obviously resonated with a whole generation since Grease became the highest-grossing musical film ever at that time. Its soundtrack album ended 1978 as the second-best-selling album of the year in the USA.

Although Olivia Newton John spent much of her formative years and went to school in Melbourne, Australia, she was actually a British citizen at the time of Grease’s release, so we felt an even greater connection to her. She was born and lived in Cambridge, England and her parents named her after screen legend, Olivia de Havilland. She lived in the UK until she was five years old, when her parents decided to emigrate to Australia, although she returned to live in England in her late teens to pursue a career in singing after winning a talent contest in Melbourne. Olivia did not become an Australian citizen until she was 33 years old and remained a citizen of that country even though she spent most of her life in California after moving to the USA in the mid-1970s. It was here that she won the role of Sandy in Grease, even though at the age of 29 she was concerned that she was too old to portray a high school student alongside the then 23-year-old Travolta.

Olivia was married twice, firstly to actor Matt Lattanzi, the father of her only child, the singer and actress Chloe Rose Lattanzi. She met Matt while filming the movie Xanadu which, in my view, was nowhere near as great as Grease! Newton John also enjoyed success as a singer with her biggest hit being the song Physical, which was famously banned by a radio station in Provo, Utah for its “suggestive” lyrics.

Olivia divorced in 1995 and thirteen years later, she married John Easterling, founder and president of the Amazon Herb Company. She also spent several years with a cameraman named Patrick McDermott, who went missing after going on an overnight fishing trip on a sport fishing vessel in 2005. In 2009 there was a media frenzy as investigators claimed he was found in a Mexican beach town under an assumed name.

Olivia was very resilient as she bravely and very publicly shared her long fight against breast cancer which ultimately led to her passing away last week. This was first diagnosed and treated in 1992, which was a tough year for her as not only did she undergo surgery, but she also lost her father to liver cancer and declared bankruptcy. Her career recovered in the 1990s and 2000s, although never quite achieving those dizzying heights of the 1970s and 80s. 

Olivia has been widely honored and recognized by Australia, the USA and the UK. In the land of my and her birth she represented Britain at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. She was also awarded the OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1979 for her services to the performing arts and became a Dame in 2020 for her services to charity, cancer research and entertainment. In the USA, she was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Grammy Award in the “Video of the Year” category for Physical.

In Australia, she was awarded the AO (Officer of the Order of Australia) in 2006 for her services to the entertainment industry as a singer and actor, and to the community for supporting breast cancer treatment, education, training and research, as well as the environment. She also appeared on an Australian commemorative postage stamp in the “Living Legends” series. Last week, monuments and buildings across Australia were lit up in pink to honor the star and her death from breast cancer. Her family have been offered a state memorial service to honor her memory and legacy. There is more information at the online entertainment database

I say goodbye this week with a quote from the star herself: “I do have high standards, but I don’t expect anything from anyone that I don’t expect from myself.”

God Bless America and Rest in Peace Olivia!

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Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at  or via her PR and marketing agency at


SAVANNAH, GA. – August 16, 2022 – Asbury Memorial Church, with the Clinton Foundation, is sponsoring an event to address the alarming substance use disorder situation in Savannah from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022. “Addictions 911: Crisis, Recovery & Hope” will be held at the Pennsylvania Avenue Resource Center (PARC), 425 Pennsylvania Ave., and is free to the community. For those who prefer, a livestreamed, online option will also be available on Asbury Memorial’s website,

During this event, local experts will share information about the escalating substance abuse crisis in Savannah, provide information and resources for treatment and support, and educate addicts and those in their lives about how to remain recovery oriented with a positive mindset. There will be a NOVA film screening, panel discussion, and free hot lunch compliments of the Latin Chicks food truck. There will also be four raffle drawings open to both in-person and online attendees. Each winner will receive a $50 gift card.

“Addiction is a disease that can affect anyone, and it’s important that people know that they aren’t alone, and help is available,” said Claire Marich, Asbury Memorial Church Associate Minister. “There aren’t enough opportunities for people to openly discuss substance abuse disorder, so community events like this one are important. I would like to invite everyone to attend this event, however you might be affected by addition or just to learn more about the current situation in Savannah. Everyone is welcome.”

Asbury Memorial Church, located at 1008 Henry Street, Savannah, Ga, offers a weekly Sunday worship service at 11:15 a.m. and members are committed to welcoming everybody into their church, no matter their age, gender, race, sexual orientation or economic status. For more information on Asbury Memorial Church or to see other upcoming events, please visit


For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Beasley at or 912-417-5377 or Lesley Francis at or 912-417-LFPR (5377).


SAVANNAH, GA – August 16, 2022 – Georgia Tech-Savannah announces the appointment of Jasmine R. Miller to the position of Event Coordinator II. In this role, Jasmine is responsible for coordinating arrangements for events, meetings and conferences held on the Georgia Tech-Savannah campus. She also promotes the impressive facilities at Georgia Tech’s Savannah campus and works with businesses and organizations to inform them about the extensive options for their events.

Jasmine has an extensive background in event management, project management, donor relations and higher education. She began her career at Savannah State University as the annual fund coordinator in the advancement office. Through hard work and dedication, she was promoted to manager of university events. She has successfully executed university and donor-centered events, developed, and implemented sponsorship collateral, and maintained positive relationships with external and internal constituents in the higher education and nonprofit sectors. Her positive attitude and approach of saying “my pleasure” has come full circle in her professional career as she takes on this position. Jasmine has  cultivated relationships with a diverse group of individuals and organizations in the greater Savannah region. In addition, Jasmine holds a MA in Professional Communication and Leadership from Armstrong State University, BA in Mass Communications – PR and Advertising concentration from Savannah State University and AA in Marketing Management from Savannah Technical College and over seven years of experience in organizing complex events.

From one-day events to multi-day conferences, Georgia Tech-Savannah offers two buildings providing various classrooms, labs, and open spaces. Whether looking to hold a small meeting or a large conference, the Georgia Tech-Savannah campus has the facilities to meet any need. For more information about meeting and conference spaces available at Georgia Tech-Savannah, please visit


Georgia Tech-Savannah provides educational experiences for learners of all ages. Our multitude of learning platforms are tailored to meet the needs of a diverse population, from working professionals pursuing career development and those seeking specific certifications to children eager to explore and discover. Georgia Tech-Savannah’s professional education, training and military programs encourages participants to challenge themselves and meet goals by sharpening existing skills and picking up valuable new ones. We’re proud to bring cutting-edge technology, applied research capabilities and innovation to the Coastal Empire, where our campus also serves as a home for various Georgia Tech affiliates, institutes and centers. To learn more, visit us at



SAVANNAH, GA, Aug. 16, 2022 – Ariel Savannah Angel Partners (ASAP) has made a successful exit from one of their most medically advanced investments. InnAVasc Medical, Inc. was recently acquired by W. L. Gore & Associates, resulting in the ASAP group exiting their investment with a generous return.

InnAVasc Medical, Inc. is a medical device company focused on the design and development of products for vascular access for hemodialysis. ASAP invested significantly into the company during their early stages of development.

“Our members saw the potential of this company’s technology and the opportunities in the growing hemodialysis market from the start, which is why we invested in 2020,” said ASAP Chairman Carl Francis. “Not only did our members realize multiples of their original investment in just two years, but the quality of life for patients on dialysis will improve through the use of this new technology. I’d say this investment was a big win for everyone involved.”  The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Using the funds provided by ASAP and other early investors, InnAVasc designed and successfully developed an arteriovenous graft (AVG) modification that incorporates two cannulation pods, with low bleed technology, that are resistant to posterior and sidewall needle penetration and injury. This graft has been designed to reduce the potential for adverse events and device failures associated with repeated vascular access. So far, it has significantly reduced the risk of complications and bleeding from repeated dialysis for both in-center and home hemodialysis and allows for easy location of a safe stick zone target.

Ariel Savannah Angel Partners is a member-led business angel group that is committed to finding, funding, mentoring, and supporting great young companies from pitch through to development, scale-up, and successful exit. ASAP is a proud member of the Angel Capital Association, the largest angel professional development organization in the world.


For media inquiries, please contact  Allie Robinson at or 912-547-3100 or Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).


SAVANNAH, GA. – August 12, 2022 – The Savannah VOICE Festival will close out its tenth season with a reception and special concert gala featuring 2022 Milnes VOICE Awardee, Frederica “Flicka” von Stade, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20 at the historic Green Meldrim House, 14 W Macon St. World renowned mezzo, Frederica, will share her musical gifts in “An Evening with Flicka,” accompanied by Dan Gettinger on the piano. Flicka will regale the audience with stories of her life, while performing in her one-of-a-kind operatic mezzo voice. Renowned bass-baritone James Morris, a former Milnes VOICE Awardee, will present Flicka with the prestigious Milnes VOICE Award for 2022. The Milnes Family in conjunction with the VOICExperience Foundation launched the Milnes VOICE award to recognize individuals who have made an extraordinary difference in the perpetuation of excellence in the art of great singing in the operatic repertoire and other classically sung genres of music.

Frederica hails from New Jersey but studied at the Mannes School of Music in New York City. She has had a prolific international career in the operatic arts since her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1970, working in productions across the world including New York City, England, France and Italy. Frederica has been awarded with nine Grammy nominations over the course of her career.

Dan Gettinger has worked with the Milnes VOICE Programs for many years as a music director, vocal coach, and pianist in Savannah, New York, Orlando, and Tampa as well as with many other prestigious organizations around the world. Dan has coached and taken the role of principal pianist for Palm Beach Opera, Opera Tampa, Chautauqua Opera, Santa Fe Opera, and Florida Grand Opera. As a recital pianist, he has performed with Patricia Racette, Heidi Grant Murphy, and Florence Quivar. He has also served as a judge for prestigious opera competitions including the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation Competition, and the Loren L. Zachary Society Competition.  Dan has held university faculty positions at Florida International University; Brooklyn College; The Hartt School at The University Of Hartford, where he was the music director of the musical theater department; and Manhattan School of Music in New York, serving as the music director of the American Musical Theater Ensemble. In addition to opera, Dan is equally experienced in the genre of musical theater, having conducted productions of My Fair Lady, Carousel, and Sweeney Todd for Shreveport Opera, and having worked as assistant conductor of a national tour of A Little Night Music.

“Frederica truly possesses a captivating ability to hold an audience’s attention beyond just singing,” Maria Zouves, co-founder and president of the Savannah VOICE Festival said. “Her contributions to the field of opera and the performing arts as a whole have been significant, and I cannot wait to see opera legend Sherrill Milnes present her with this well-deserved award.”

The final weekend of the tenth Savannah VOICE Festival will be out of this world as in addition to the gala, Savannah OPERA is performing the last of the Festival’s five different operas with Charles Gounod’s Faust. This haunting, grand opera portrays a man’s pact with the devil in exchange for youth and love and is based on Goethe’s tale of Marguerite and Faust. SVF’s Artistic Director, Jorge Parodi and prolific stage director, Fabrizio Melano direct this exceptional production at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19 and 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21 at the beautiful Asbury Memorial Church.

Patrons wishing to purchase tickets to hear the world-renowned mezzo in action or experience Faust during the culmination of SVF’s tenth season should call 855.766.7372 or email or visit

Savannah VOICE Festival is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt nonprofit arts organization in the state of Georgia. The Festival brings classical vocal excellence to the Savannah area through a two-week celebration of concerts, events, and educational presentations during the month of August and throughout the year. Focusing on arts awareness and audience development in the performing arts, it offers music from opera, musical theatre, and popular song. The Savannah VOICE Festival is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Donations are tax-deductible.


For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Beasley at or 229-393-6457 or Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).


Lesley Francis

on the role of public relations and marketing

Lesley Francis

on the role of public relations and marketing

Lesley Francis is the CEO of Lesley Francis PR. She talks about having a strategic plan with your advertising and public relations and understanding the difference between the two.


SAVANNAH, GA – August 5, 2022 – For its tenth anniversary season, the Savannah VOICE Festival (SVF) is further extending its collaboration with community partners as well as making the vocal arts accessible to all through outreach and free events. The season includes partnerships with nonprofit organizations including Hospice Savannah, The Davenport House Museum, Asbury Memorial Church, Christ Church Episcopal, First Baptist Church and the Telfair Academy. SVF’s partnerships will also spotlight the poetic works from local youth who attend programs at the Deep Center in the “VOICES in Song,” at 5 p.m. August 9, at Christ Church, 28 Bull Street on Johnson Square. Their moving texts were set to music by composer, Jodi Goble and those songs will be premiered at this concert. Finally, Savannah Arts Academy Chorus students will participate in Michael Ching’s Alice Ryley and Anna Hunter as part of Savannah Opera’s season.

Free events include “VOICES in Sacred Song” at First Baptist Church, 223 Bull Street on Sunday, August 14 at 5 p.m. with songs of inspiration from sacred texts and comforting themes. The free Masters in VOICE series will be held at different venues throughout the Savannah area. These master classes give audiences an inside look at the preparation and performance of the operatic style of singing by renowned operatic professionals. Each of the master classes listed below will be held at 1 p.m. at either the Demere Center for Living, 6000 Business Center Drive, or the Charles H. Morris Center, 10 E Broad Street:

  • Tuesday, Aug. 9 at the Demere Center for Living:

Renowned soprano, Marquita Lister joins the Festival as Quortina in the Festival’s production of Anna Hunter. As part of this special series, she shares her vast expertise with the 2022 Study Grant Artists in an exciting master class format.

  • Thursday, Aug. 11 at the Charles H. Morris Center:

Co-founder and president of the Savannah VOICE Festival Sherrill Milnes offers his expertise to a new generation of singers in a master class setting.

  • Friday, Aug. 12 at the Demere Center for Living:

Artistic Director of the Milnes VOICE Programs, Jorge Parodi, has conducted and coached all over the globe. See him work with the Season 10 VOICE artists as he shares his expertise. This season Maestro Parodi conducts Faust as part of Savannah Opera at the Festival.

  • Wednesday, Aug. 17 at the Charles H. Morris Center:

Soprano Maria Zouves, Co-founder and president of the Savannah VOICE Festival has directed, taught, and produced events all around the world, and now brings that experience to the singers of Season 10 in this master class.

  • Friday, Aug. 19 at the Charles H. Morris Center:

Legendary bass-baritone James Morris and his wife, renowned mezzo-soprano Susan Quittmeyer join forces to share their vast knowledge from decades of performances in opera, concert, recital, and recording. 

“We always give back to the community as part of our mission, but this season is particularly significant as this community has given so much to us over the last decade,” said Chad Sonka, Executive Director of the Savannah VOICE Festival.

For more information about the Savannah VOICE Festival’s 10th anniversary season, visit To learn more about outreach events and initiatives, please visit


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Savannah VOICE Festival is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt nonprofit arts organization in the state of Georgia. The Festival brings classical vocal excellence to the Savannah area through a two-week celebration of concerts, events and educational presentations during the month of August and throughout the year. Focusing on arts awareness and audience development in the performing arts, it offers music from opera, musical theatre and popular song. Donations are tax-deductible.


The Savannah VOICE Festival is supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through the appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly. GCA is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.


For media inquiries, please contact Kristyn Beasley at 229-393-6457 or, Lesley Francis at 912-429-3950 or, or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).


Savannah, Ga. – Aug. 5, 2022 – Official Guides of Savannah (OGS) recently promoted Laura Simpson to Sales & Marketing Manager and hired Joan McKee for the new position of Executive Assistant.   

Simpson, promoted from Sales Executive to Sales & Marketing Manager, has been in the tourism industry for 16 years, and with OGS since 2016 working with their sales team. She is a 1989 graduate from the University of Georgia and a 2011 graduate of Leadership Savannah, a course offered to individuals with a commitment to improving Savannah through leadership.

McKee was hired as the Executive Assistant for OGS and Convention Consultants, the sister company of OGS. McKee brings a diverse background including a Bachelor of Music Performance at Georgia Southern University and a Masters of Vocal Performance at Georgia State University. McKee is a former professional singer and actor who also has experience in education, food and beverage management, retail management, and theatre management.

“The backbone of any organization is a strong team, and we’ve been able to develop a wonderful team of employees dedicated to the Savannah hospitality industry,” said DeAnne Mitchell, CEO of OGS. “Both of these ladies possess strong interpersonal skills and are Savannah locals who have more knowledge about the city of Savannah than most, making them invaluable assets to the OGS team.”

Official Guides of Savannah is a daily distributor of tourism and hospitality-related printed materials in the Savannah area. They distribute more than 2.4 million brochures to over 160 locations annually. For more information about Official Guides of Savannah, please visit or Convention Consultants


For media inquiries, please contact  Allie Robinson at or 912-547-3100 or Lesley Francis at or 912-429-3950 or the team at 912-417-LFPR (5377).


One of the highlights of our year is spending a week with our family, including our beautiful granddaughters (now 11 and 7), on a fun summer trip. My stepson jokes that we only invite him because he brings his boat since recent years have seen us exploring the lakes of North Carolina and Georgia by renting wonderful lake houses with private docks. This type of vacation is also easy to “sell” to my husband since, after decades of travelling the world on business with over 5 million airmiles to prove it, it is now pretty difficult to persuade him to get on a plane. Therefore, a road-trip vacation complete with boating, tubing, grill-outs, bright Hawaiian shirts, firepits and s’mores with the family is much more his ‘cup of tea’ as we say in England to communicate ‘highly acceptable for my personal preferences’.

I love living in Coastal Georgia, but I do thoroughly enjoy the tranquility of a lake view as it always soothes my soul and restores my spirits. The last few months have been extremely challenging on many fronts, as it has for so many people, so I was especially looking forward to a relaxing family vacation this year.

I have written before of happy memories of trips to the British Lake District, situated in the far north-west of England about 300 miles from London where we lived. I also love the work of William Wordsworth, the famous nineteenth century English poet who spent many years living in and writing poems about England’s 16 lakes which make up the Lake District. So as much as I love our local coastal waterways and the open sea, there is a special place in my heart for the peace and tranquility that a pretty and serene lake view brings.

Anyway, back to this summer. We previously have spent a couple of great vacations at Lake Lanier in north Georgia, but we did not enjoy the Atlanta traffic and seemingly endless road construction delays we had to endure to get there. So last month we spent the July 4th week on the much closer Lake Oconee for some much-needed fun in and on the water.

Lake Oconee is in central Georgia on the Oconee River about 200 miles from our home in Richmond Hill, located about halfway between Atlanta and Augusta. It is the fourth largest man-made lake in Georgia, created in 1979 with the construction of the Wallace Dam by Georgia Power. Lake Oconee has also attracted exclusive hotels and housing and golf developments including the Ritz Carlton and the Reynolds Plantation. The lake totals almost 20,000 acres, and is around half the size of Lake Lanier, Georgia’s biggest lake. The name Oconee takes its name from a group of Creek Indians that long ago lived close to Georgia’s Oconee River basin. “Oconee” means “great waters.” 

The level of Lake Oconee is consistently managed to stay nearly full since it is used both for hydro-electric power generation and extensive recreational activities. It has three public campground areas on its shoreline along with the 7,400 acre Oconee Wildlife Management Area. It is exceedingly beautiful.

The nearby town and county seat of Greene County, Greensboro Georgia, is also a very pleasant place with real small-town charm. Full of interesting little shops, restaurants, and nooks and crannies, it is well worth taking a little time off the water and wondering around the town with the occasional drink or ice cream to beat the Georgia summer heat.

Any downsides to Lake Oconee? Only one that we could tell. When it was constructed in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a lot of trees and bottom materials were left in place to create habitat for the fish. Maybe the fish like it, but from our perspective there were a lot of submerged trees just below the surface of the water. Most areas were properly marked with “hazard” buoys but not quite all were highly visible. A submerged tree just below the surface claimed our boat’s propeller as a prize, but fortunately the local boat supply businesses plus my very capable stepson quickly replaced it so we could get back in the boat, on the tube, and into the water. All that said, I do admit it was a little disconcerting for the boat’s depth-finder to say you are in 40-foot waters but unexpectedly find yourself standing on a slippery old tree limb just four feet from the surface! There is more information at and

I say goodbye this week with a quote from American author Ilam Shamir: “Advice from a lake: be clear, make positive ripples, look beneath the surface, stay calm, shore up friendships, take time to reflect, be full of life.” Not exactly Wordsworth, but great advice from a lake in any event!

God Bless America!

– ENDS –

Lesley grew up in London, England and made Georgia her home in 2009. She can be contacted at  or via her PR and marketing agency at