The Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta, the city’s primary nonprofit promoting German language and culture, has named a new executive director after a national search.
Oliver Gorf, who hails originally from Hamburg, Germany, joins the organization officially Nov. 15.
Cassidy Chreene Whittle, who had served as interim executive director pending the search, will remain in the role while onboarding Mr. Gorf. She’ll then transition into a new leadership role on the executive team, according to a news release.
Mr. Gorf traces his interest in language education to his own study-abroad experience in Tanzania, where he used the local Goethe-Institut as a place to converse with interesting people. (Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta started as a branch of that government-backed network 40 years ago, but is no longer officially affiliated with it.)
He has since built a solid and diverse educational portfolio, according to the release. The son of bookstore owners, Mr. Gorf studied socioeconomics at the University of Hamburg, combining the disciplines of business, law and sociology, learning that synthesizing different fields would be a driving force in his career.
He later worked as a copy editor at the publishing house of Bauer Verlag, then became a playwright and director before ascending to the position of head of communications at the Lichthof Theater, which was honored for delivering theatrical excellence on a limited budget during his time there.
In 2011, he moved to Miami to teach German language at Florida International University and in Miami-Dade Public Schools. Since then he has worked with Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta as an instructor.
“I have admired Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta and contributed to its mission as a teacher and supporter for some time, and now look forward to using our language programs and cultural programs to help people understand, respect, and learn from each other,” he said in the release, noting that he aims to foster more cross-cultural conversations.
During the pandemic, the organization has successfully pivoted to an online instruction model using Zoom, Ms. Whittle told Global Atlanta in a previous interview.
Board chair Lou McBryan said Mr. Gorf’s varied experience helped distinguish him during the search.
“I am confident with his diverse background and his passion for the German culture and language, he will lead the organization to fulfill our mission in Atlanta and throughout the Southeastern U.S.,” he said in a statement.
For more on the leadership transition, read: