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Founders What is Serenbe
Like-minded founders that thankfully found each other

Marie and Steve Nygren

Marie and Steve Nygren discovered the property now known as Serenbe on an outing to introduce their children to the Georgia countryside. They purchased the first 60 acres, along with the existing buildings, in 1991. Weekend visits for Marie, Steve and their young daughters literally transformed their lives and in 1994 they sold their Atlanta home and relocated full-time to Serenbe. In 1996, they turned the 1930s horse barn next to their house into guest rooms and opened the Serenbe Bed & Breakfast.

Marie grew up in the hospitality business. Her mother was the owner/operator of Mary Mac's Tearoom, a well-known Southern restaurant in the heart of Atlanta. Marie attended Florida State School of Hospitality and Restaurant Administration before returning to Atlanta to manage the Women's Commerce Club. Marie now oversees the kitchen and menu development at the Farmhouse and the Serenbe Chef Series Cooking classes.

Steve was raised on a Colorado farm and began working part time for Stouffer's Food Corporation while attending the University of Colorado. Seven years later, Steve was the National Director of Sales and Marketing for Stouffer's Hotels. In 1973, Steve opened the Pleasant Peasant restaurant, which grew to a corporation of 34 restaurants in eight states by the time of his departure in 1994.

Marie and Steve have been active in many civic and charitable organizations. Steve has served as Chairman of the Midtown Alliance, Chairman of the Georgia Hospitality and Travel Association and Chairman of the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau and Chairman of The Chattahoochee Hill Country Alliance, and he currently serves on the Department of Community Affairs Board and chairs the Task Force for Comprehensive Planning for Georgia. Marie has directed the summer program of Emmaus House and has served on the board of Zoo Atlanta. She is currently on the governing board of Woodward Academy and The Georgia Arts Council. Daughter Garnie graduated from Cornell and serves as Director of Operations at Serenbe. Daughter Kara graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder and is a teacher at the Serenbe Montessori School. Daughter Quinn graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder, is in the design business at ADAC in Atlanta and works at The Inn on weekends.


Nan and Rawson Haverty, Jr.

Nan and Rawson bring to the Serenbe project a strong enthusiasm for this new vision of community, a longtime interest in the arts and their solid business experience.

Nan Haverty shares a wonderful family and a home both in Atlanta and at Serenbe with her husband Rawson and their two children. She is a top agent at Beacham and Company and specializes in selling both In Town & Country properties.  

Nan and Rawson were the founders of Create Your Dreams, an after-school program for at-risk kids. The program nurtures the individual talents and aspirations of students through long-term enrichment. Its uniquely long-sighted approach means that children are enrolled in elementary school and attend all the way through their high school graduation.

Rawson has served on the Board of Directors of Haverty Furniture Company for over ten years. He joined the company in 1982 and was named Senior Vice President of Real Estate and Development in 1998.

He began his career in Guatemala as a social worker with the American Red Cross and New Life League. He directed the reconstruction of housing after the earthquake of 1976 and later developed and managed an orphanage, school and medical clinic.

Rawson served five years as a commissioner with the Atlanta Housing Authority and currently serves on the Boards of Starpound Technologies,  Efficient Markets Inc., and Sustainable Community Media, Inc. He  is  active in numerous other industry, civic and charitable organizations currently serving on the Board of The National Home Furnishings Association, World Children's Center and  Emory University Center for Ethics Advisory Board.


Ryan Gainey

Ryan Gainey is an internationally known garden designer and is the owner of Ryan Gainey and Company. He has designed many estate and cottage gardens both in the U.S. and abroad. His gardens embrace the ideas of classical design with the exuberance of romance and color. Ryan's ideology is inspired by the nuances of seasonal change and garden history, myths, legends and fantasies.

Ryan's two-acre garden in Decatur, Georgia and his renowned work for clients have been featured in every major gardening publication in the U.S. and abroad. His garden has been included for 16 years in the Atlanta Botanical Garden's renowned Gardens for Connoisseur's tour.

Recently Ryan was commissioned by Southern Living to conceptualize and design a project that would manifest his philosophy. The result was Brookgreen Cottage, which is now open to the public as a breathtaking new attraction of Brookgreen Gardens, the representational sculpture garden in the low country of South Carolina.

Ryan authored The Well-Placed Weed, an expression of his Southern roots and inspirations for his work, featuring garden-centered lifestyle, both outside and indoors. His other book is titled The Well-Set Table, a celebration of food, fetes and flowers.

Ryan is a member of the Board of Directors of the Southeastern Flower Show and has created a number of events for the High Museum of Art, the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and the Atlanta History Center.

Related Pages: History, Quality of Life , Sustainability, Development Team
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