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About us


The Freedman Arts District promotes and encourages arts, artists, artistic endeavors and art lovers in the District. This Arts promotion includes focused social media and targeted outreach programs. The Freedman Arts District partners with families that own property in the district, to assist in keeping ownership within the family while restoring the property as a functioning asset for the family.  Heirs property is a particular focus of this program.



A thriving Arts District rich in arts and cultural experiences and opportunities; to support appropriate economic revitalization of the District; and increased enrollment and expanded arts education and programming.

Executive Director

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Stacy Applegate

Executive Director

Stacy graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Bachelor of Business Administration, a Master of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Administration and a Master of Human Resources. She also is a licensed real estate agent and has over 30 years of experience in Human Resources, Hospitality, Real Estate and Non Profit Management. Since moving to Beaufort, she has been a resident of the Northwest Quadrant and renovated her current home with an abundance of neighborhood support. She served on the City of Beaufort’s Historic Review Board and the United Community Taskforce, and is currently a Chair Volunteer with the Beaufort International Film Festival and the Secretary of the Northwest Quadrant Neighborhood Association.  When she is not working or volunteering, she enjoys kayaking, riding her bike and supporting the arts in Beaufort. 

Board of Directors

Board of Directors
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Amiri Geuka Farris

Amiri Geuka Farris is a highly skilled and versatile artist, currently serving as the artist in residence at the University of South Carolina Beaufort USCB. With a mastery of various artistic mediums, Amiri has successfully showcased his talent through numerous exhibitions hosted by renowned art institutions and museums. Additionally, he has contributed significantly to the creation of public works of art. His vast knowledge and expertise in the arts enable him to collaborate seamlessly with different institutions and nonprofits. He possesses an unwavering passion for pushing boundaries, expanding creativity, and engaging in meaningful collaborations. Amiri holds an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design in fine arts.

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Emily Durso

Retired expert in Economic Development, Marketing, Consulting, Business Management and Higher Education.  Freedman Arts District Resident

A current resident of the Freedman Arts District, Emily has a diverse background including experience in Economic Development, Business Management, Education Administration and Consulting among others.  For ten years she owned the Francis Scott Key Book Store in Georgetown, DC. She was the Assistant Director for Economic Development, DC Government and led multiple development projects. She was VP of Marketing for TECHWORD, President of the Hotel Association of Washington, Acting Superintendent of DC Public and Charter Schools and Deputy Chief of DC Public Schools for College and Career.  Emily has been a consultant for numerous organizations including the Marriott Corporation, Stand For Children, City Bridge Foundation, National Academy Foundation and Nemours Foundation.  Emily also currently serves on the Board of Archbishop Carroll High School in Washington DC.  

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Ashlee Houck

President and CEO, Beaufort Area Hospitality Association

Houck comes to BAHA from the Garrett Trails Organization in McHenry, Md., where she most recently served as the Executive Director. Houck has more than 10 years of experience in the hospitality and tourism industry with extensive knowledge in hotel and nonprofit marketing, event management, and overall operations. She earned her bachelor’s degree at West Virginia University in 2007.


Valinda Littlefield, Ph.D.

Director of the Institute for the Study of the Reconstruction Era

Littlefield is a scholar of the history of women, African Americans and education with an emphasis on southern African American women and African American history from 1877 to the present.In 2015, Littlefield received a Governor’s Award bestowed by South Carolina Humanities. In receiving the award, she was called “a champion for the humanities in the Palmetto State.” She has also been the lead historian for the Teach American History Project in multiple South Carolina school districts and has worked tirelessly with public school teachers to deepen the historical knowledge of South Carolinians.


Martha Moriarty

Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Interim Dean, Beaufort Campus
Institutional Accreditation Liaison

Dr. Martha A. Moriarty is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness at the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB), and concurrently serves as the Interim Dean of the historic Beaufort Campus where she is a staunch advocate for the growth and development of the campus. Prior to joining the USCB family, she worked at the University of South Carolina Graduate School (USC) where she directed and taught in the Master of Arts in Teaching degree program on the Beaufort Campus. In addition, she served as the Director of the USC Extended Graduate Campus, responsible for the public relations, marketing, recruitment, and delivery of graduate degree programs and course offerings to individuals in the coastal region of South Carolina. Dr. Moriarty represents the university on numerous boards and committees including the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, and most recently the Santa Elena Foundation. She has held teaching and administrative positions at other institutions. Dr. Moriarty has a Ph.D. in Developmental and Educational Psychology from Boston College, a M.Ed. in Reading and Language from the University of Lowell and a B.S. in Early Childhood Education from Fitchburg State College.  


Megan Morris

Vice President, Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce

Morris is a native Beaufortonian and a University of South Carolina graduate. Before joining the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, she was executive director of the Santa Elena Foundation. Before that, she held marketing roles for Beaufort Memorial Hospital and the Beaufort County School District.

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Bill Quarles

Chief Financial Officer

Mr Quarles has over 30 years of senior management experience in finance and accounting and has been involved in a diverse array of industries.  He has extensive experience in business financings and acquisition and sale transactions.


Before returning to the Lowcountry and forming his consulting company, Aurora Business Consulting, LLC. Mr. Quarles previously served as the Chief Financial Officer of Northwest Broadcasting L.P. (“Northwest), a television station operator who acquired and operated small market televisions stations throughout the United States.  Mr Quarles joined Northwest in 1997 and helped the company grow to more than two dozen stations and ultimately facilitated the sale of Northwest to Apollo Global Management in 2019.  During his time at Northwest, Mr. Quarles was involved in over $500 million of acquisition and sale transactions. 


Prior to his time at Northwest, Mr. Quarles served as the Financial Controller of Hanna-Barbera, Inc. (a division of Turner Broadcasting) a television animation production studio in Los Angeles, CA from 1994 to 1997 after having joined Turner in their Atlanta, GA office as a Senior Accounting Manager helping with the launch of The Cartoon Network in 1992.  Prior to Turner, Mr. Quarles was a Senior Financial Analyst for Graham Energy, Ltd., an oil and gas limited partnership sponsor based in New Orleans, LA. 


Mr. Quarles began his career as an auditor with Arthur Andersen & Co. in 1987 and has a B.A. in Business Administration/Accounting from The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.


Victoria Smalls

Executive Director, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

Recipient of the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022, Victoria Smalls is a Gullah Geechee native of St. Helena Island, SC. She is a creative and knowledgeable public historian, art scholar and collector, diversity leader, and cultural preservationist, who believes in building sustainable communities through strategic partnerships. Smalls began her cultural preservation work at the Penn Center on St. Helena Island in 2012 and served five years as director of history, art and culture, and director of the center’s York W. Bailey Museum. She briefly worked at the International African American Museum as program manager before returning to the Penn Center in 2019.

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Dick Stewart

Lifetime Entrepreneur

Dick Stewart is a retired business executive with a strong commitment to Beaufort, the Arts and higher education. Some of the organizations Dick has been involved with include: The Higher Education Trust which built student housing for USCB and which has donated over $200,000 to the 1795 Scholarship program for USCB students; The Port Royal Sound Foundation which has provided education about our area to thousands of children and adults and has provided research funding to USCB marine biologists and others; Crystal Lake Park on Lady’s Island which has the rare qualities of having fresh water, brackish water and salt water adjacent to two schools and on a busy travel corridor and others.


Dick has served on the boards of The Coastal Community Foundation, USCB Education Foundation, United Way of the Lowcountry, the Beaufort Port Royal Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce and The Town of Port Royal Redevelopment Commission. Dick was named Economic Development Ambassador for Beaufort County by two governors and was honored as a Home-Grown Champion by the SC Department of Commerce. Prior to retiring from 303 Associates earlier this year, Dick was involved in renovating and restoring buildings in the Beaufort Historic District including the Saltus Building on Bay Street which was closed for over 25 years and Beaufort Inn’s Tabby Place event space on Port Republic Street which was vacant for several years. Dick believes the title “Citizen” is a high honor and includes a responsibility to give back to your community.

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Robb Wells

President & CEO, Greater Beaufort-Port Royal Convention and Visitors Bureau

Robb Wells, a 18-year destination marketing professional who oversees marketing initiatives and operations for Visit Beaufort, Port Royal, and the Sea Islands. He is dedicated to sharing “America’s Best Small Town” with the visiting public.  Robb also places particular emphasis on partnering with the community to significantly enhance the area’s visitor experience and travel’s overall economic impact.  Robb currently serves as Chairman of the South Carolina Lowcountry Tourism Commission and sits on the Board of Directors for Southeast Tourism Society. He’s a graduate of Montreat College with a degree in business and believes that tourism is economic development.  This Tar Heel native moved to the area in May 2012 and lives in Seabrook with his wife and 4 children.  

Advisory Board

Advisory Board
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Dan Blackmon

Northwest Quadrant Neighborhood Association President

Dan graduated from Northeastern University Law School (Juris Doctor) and practiced law in Boston, and Cape Cod while he taught paralegals at Fisher College and served as Town Moderator in two different towns.  Then moving to Charlotte, he graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary (Masters of Divinity) and was a pastor as well as a community college instructor.  Also he became a certified mediator in North Carolina.  Later Dan became a vice president and supply chain manager at Bank of America and then Wells Fargo from where he “retired”.  Having made an extensive search from NC to Florida, in 2012 Dan chose Beaufort for its arts, history, and people.


Amanda Dickman

Library Director, Beaufort County Library

Mrs. Dickman is the Beaufort County Library Director and has been with Beaufort County Library since 2007. Amanda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication from Charleston Southern University and a Masters Degree of Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina.  She was selected by the Public Library Association to participate in American Library Association’s Emerging Leaders mentorship program and was awarded Beaufort County Librarian of the Year in 2016.

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Bonnie Hargrove

Director, USCB Center for the Arts

Originally from Alabama, Hargrove came to Beaufort in 2008 with a background rooted in the arts and nonprofit management. She was previously the Director of the Colleton County Arts Council in Walterboro, where she started a children’s theater. She serves as the Chairperson of the City of Beaufort Cultural District and has been an advisory member for Main Street Beaufort and a member of the Beaufort Guild of Galleries. In 2017, the South Carolina Arts Commission honored the USC Beaufort Center for the Arts and Bonnie Hargrove with an Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award in the Arts for the City of Beaufort’s robust arts and cultural scene.

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Kelly Mitchell

Community Advocate 

Kelly earned a degree in Speech Pathology from South Carolina State University. 
She and her husband spent the majority of their years on the west coast, in Southern California and Seattle, where her husband served as a military officer and was employed as a commercial airline pilot.  Kelly worked briefly for a mortgage banking company in the loan service department.  The majority of her life was spent raising three professional and productive young men during her husband’s dual career.  She served the community by volunteering on the neighborhood Architectural Control Committee, volunteering countless hours at her sons’ schools and at the Food Bank at their church.  She currently volunteers as a mentor at the Riverview Charter School. 

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Peggy Simmer

Old Commons Neighborhood Association Secretary

Peggy loves connecting and collaborating with people, facilitating effective two-way communication, and improving the quality of life of others. This is highlighted by her lifetime of service in the communities in which she has served - as an active-duty military spouse for more than 30 years, a higher education administrator focused on academic assessment and institutional effectiveness, a hands-on historic preservationist and docent, and as a local community leader and facilitator. Peggy has served as the City of Beaufort’s Community Ombudsman and on the Parking Advisory Committee, as the Military Liaison and as a Senior Docent for the Historic Beaufort Foundation, and she has been the Secretary of the Old Commons Neighborhood Association since 2016. Peggy received the "Navy Meritorious Public Service Award" for her exemplary volunteer service to military families and she was also chosen as a "Heroes at Home: Military Spouse of the Year" finalist and invited to the White House. Peggy and her husband, Edward Simmer, received the Historic Beaufort Foundation's "Historic Preservation Honor Award" for restoring the Cuthbert-Scheper-Simmer House built in 1820. Peggy has a B.A. in both Chemistry and Psychology from Hiram College, a M.S. in Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has completed her doctoral coursework in Assessment and Measurement at James Madison University.

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