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This year marks our 1st annual Atlanta’s Atalantan contest.

This contest was conceptualized as a way for us at Orpheus to honor, and recognize all of the badass women who are crushing it right now in our city. You all nominated over 100 women from across Atlanta in professions from business owners, to artists, to engineers, and philanthropists.
The stories below were written by those who nominated these incredible women, and we’re honored to be able to share a few of them with you.

1st – Kitty Murray co-founder and CEO of Refuge Coffee Co.

“Kitti Murray has been bringing light to Atlanta for years. The City of Clarkston has especially benefitted from her kindness, generosity, and genuine love for the people in our community. A few years back, Kitti sat down to have coffee with a friend, a woman who has survived massacres and loss and now lives as a refugee in Clarkston. Her friend mentioned that the City of Clarkston (said to be the most diverse square mile in America) would never itself have a coffee shop, a place to feel safe and spend time with neighbors.

Kitti decided that that wasn’t going to be true. She is now the CEO of Refuge Coffee, a coffee shop in Clarkston that hires and trains refugee employees and hosts the BEST parties in the city (while always having a steady stream of coffee to fuel the crowds). In a time of hate and division in this country, Kitti has instead chosen to bring love for all nations to our community. She not only has created a space where people of all countries can get together and enjoy potlucks, open-mic nights, and soccer watch parties; she is also providing jobs and training to some of our newest neighbors. She is making a huge difference in our city for all the right reasons. Kitti is our Atlanta hero!”

2nd – Marlee Dent founder of Atlanta Clinical Mental Health LLC

“Among other things, Marlee is first a beloved wife and mother (of two young children), as well as a Mental Health Advocate, Therapist, and founder of Atlanta Clinical Mental Health LLC (her private practice).  To start: A testament to her strength and courage, she labored for 24 hours without medication with her first child, surviving extreme blood loss and a blood transfusion, and gave birth to her second child at home naturally.
Much like Atalanta, Marlee is a childhood survivor of parental abandonment including a mother that suffered from Schizophrenia, and a father that she hasn’t seen since she was only 3. However, in the face of the odds, resilience was the outcome. She went on to earn a degree in Psychology at VSU and a Masters from Mercer University in Atlanta with a 4.0 GPA.
Despite, and perhaps owing to, her age (only 33), over the last 10 years, she has become the ‘go to’ Therapist in Atlanta for young adults with severe mental illness. (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, etc). With many of her young adult clients, she becomes like one of the family often engaging with parents and siblings for years even after treatment has ended. In her pro bono work she provides training to DeKalb Co police officers on how to identify and interact with mental illness when encountered in the line of duty.
A resident of Morningside, she is a neighbor and long time supporter of Orpheus. I cannot think of anyone more deserving to be honored as a Hero and Life Conqueror!
I hereby nominate my wife, Marlee Dent (hear, hear!)”

3rd – Elisabeth Remy Johnson –

Principal Harpist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, professor at Kennesaw State, Georgia State, and Emory, as well a teacher through the ASO’s Talent Development Program (TDP), Harpists coach of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, co-founder and former Artistic Director of the Urban Youth Harp Ensemble, founder of The Merian Ensemble. [Yea – woah] 

“Elisabeth Remy Johnson is a shero of mine. In addition to being the principal harpist of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, she serves on the faculty at Emory University, Kennesaw State University, and Georgia State University. She is also a mentor and teacher for the Talent Development Program at the Atlanta Symphony, a program that specializes in music instruction for African American and Latino students in the Atlanta area.  But what’s most inspiring to me is that Elisabeth recently started an annual concert series that features musical compositions written by women and performed by women. As a performer on the inaugural series, Listen: Works by Women, I can testify to her ambition and hard work in getting the programs chosen and working her tail off to find venues to get these pieces heard. In fact, some of the recordings from this series have already been featured on NPR’s Performance Today.

It doesn’t stop there.

Besides applying for grants, Elisabeth has been securing performance dates for this upcoming season featuring works with an intentional focus on new and first-generation American women. Because, she says, and I quote, “it’s possible to pissed off about more than one type of exclusion at a time.” She has poured so much energy and effort into spearheading this whole idea and all on her time and her own dime.

I believe Elisabeth is the embodiment of Atalanta, showing female strength to the Nth degree. I would be thrilled to see her honored at Orpheus! (Which, by the way, is one of our performance venues this upcoming March, looking forward to it!)”

Look out for our next post with ALL of the nominee’s and their stories! Congratulations 🎉 to all who were nominated, especially our winners! These women are a reminder of what can be achived with the drive, passion, and commitment of a true Atalantan badass!


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