Updated: Jul 18
Working with Passion for People and the City
KaToya Sumner joined Grove Park Renewal in July — in the midst of social and economic upheaval. But she sees her job at GPR as more than a leasing agent and problem-solver. She really hopes to be a community-builder and change agent.
She grew up in Dallas, Texas, but has also lived in Shanghai, China, where she taught at the homeschool co-op that her children attended. Her husband, Damon, is a Comedian, teacher and podcaster. She loves education and fitness and finds a way to do both as a POUND fitness instructor. (You can find her classes listed here.)
Now that she has been with Grove Park Renewal for a while, we decided to check in with her to learn a little more about what makes her tick, and what she thinks about Grove Park so far.
Q. How did you come to Atlanta from Dallas?
My family moved here to Atlanta in 2009 with a group of friends who were missionally minded to do ministry where our life existed in the city of Atlanta. We moved here to help plant Blueprint Church, though currently I am a member of Cornerstone Church in the West End.
Q. What is POUND fitness? What drew you to it?
Fitness found me. I have always enjoyed working out and playing sports to stay active. After the birth of my third child I found myself eager to lead a healthier lifestyle. Shortly after I became active again, I found a fitness format that spoke to my "Inner Rockstar" — POUND. It is a weighted-drumstick, full-body cardio jam session that propelled my fitness journey. I then became a POUND instructor.
Q. So you are both a teacher and a fitness instructor at heart. What do/did you like about those two endeavors?
I love providing a welcoming and safe place for all who come into my "arena" — whether it be in a classroom, on the street, or a fitness class that I lead. Everyone should be able to find a space where they can truly be themselves and be encouraged to explore and enjoy. I seek to create those spaces in all I do.
Q. How did you choose to change gears with your career?
Essentially, every career I’ve held includes the same key ingredients at the forefront: PEOPLE and CONNECTION. Before fitness and education, I was in property management for over six years. My experience in that field was one of my favorite work experiences to date.
Q. How did you find out about Grove Park Renewal?
One of my nearest and dearest friends Erika Brown (a Grove Park Renewal board member) shared the position with me. We have practically been sisters for the past 14 years, and she knew that when this position opened that I would be a great fit. I applied and felt exactly the same.
Q. What attracted you to the organization and/or the neighborhood?
From the moment I visited the Grove Park Renewal website and reviewed the content I realized my life was already aligned with the vision and mission of Grove Park Renewal. Being able to provide people, especially those in the black community, with a space to call home speaks to me. Especially when that home is quality, affordable, and within a community of rich history. Once I interviewed with Justin Bleeker it all just felt right and I knew that the Lord had truly orchestrated these connections.
Q. Do you live in the neighborhood?
I currently live in the Westview Community just down the way. I will be relocating to the area very soon with my wonderful husband Damon Sumner and my three lovely children Mission (10), Liv (6) and Ever (4).
Q. How would you describe your first few months in Grove Park?
It’s been great! I’ve enjoyed getting to know current residents. Everyone has been very welcoming! I am looking forward to more ways we can serve and support the community. There are so many hearts and community leaders that care greatly for Grove Park and the surrounding communities. It’s been a real treat to see the community truly at work for its people.
Q. How do you see as the biggest challenges you will face during COVID?
COVID has posed so many challenges. One challenge is really just the lack of face-to-face connection. It’s more like mask-to-mask communication with a little bit of distance. There’s something about seeing a whole face that helps you feel connected to a person. COVID has impacted our community and so many of our families greatly. However, seeing all of the community-based organizations come together to supply the needs is quite humbling and inspiring.
Q. What brings you joy right now?
My joy right always comes from hope and gratitude. My faith in Lord is solid grounding that is needed in a time like this. Therefore, just having gratitude and finding the silver linings in everything is providing peace and joy!