Laura Ballance, who was born in Buckhead and graduated from the Galloway School, is staying home with her latest career move.

The Candler Park resident has been named executive director of the Hudgens Center for Art and Learning in Duluth.

“The Hudgens Center for Art and Learning has a well-established reputation within the metro Atlanta arts community,” Ballance, who replaced acting Executive Director Randy Winfield, said in a news release. “I am thrilled for the opportunity to join the team and take the helm at this inspiring facility.”

Founded in 1981, Hudgens is a nonprofit that “helps adults and children discover the power of imagination with fine art exhibitions, art enrichment classes, self-guided tours and community outreach programs,” the release stated.

Ballance comes to the center after having worked as the development coordinator for the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Atlanta chapter since 2017, but has more than 15 years of experience with arts organizations.

“When I walked into the Hudgens Center a few weeks ago, it just felt like home,” Ballance said. “I’m excited to return to the arts and I’m excited to do it at the Hudgens. It’s my dream job.”

At the association, Ballance led its signature Night of Hope Gala, which raised more than $1 million, and managed and planned the MDA Muscle Walk, which raised sponsorship support by more than 50% over the previous year.

Ballance worked at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta campus from 2002-16. In her final five years with the school, she served as assistant director for enrollment events and programs and had oversight of a variety of events. She was responsible for launching the school’s popular continuing education program that was comprised of several workshops and courses.

Ballance planned the 2009 National Arts Honors Society Convention, a multi-day conference, exhibition and awards ceremony for more than 400 students and their families. In 2010 she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Georgia Art Education Association.

“Laura is going to be amazing in this role,” Hudgens board chair Kate Awtrey said in the release. “We are excited to see the future of our organization with her as the leader.”

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