Sept. 15, 2023
Reading time: 2 minutes, 46 seconds

Photographer. Social entrepreneur. Philanthropist.

Nancy Richards Farese stands with community members at UWG event

These are the words Nancy Richards Farese uses to describe herself and her work to influence communities through photojournalism and social change.

Farese, founder of CatchLight and daughter of Southwire Company founder Roy Richards Sr., recently spoke at the University of West Georgia at an event titled “Through the Lens of a Social Entrepreneur: An Evening with Nancy Richards Farese,” hosted by the Stone Center for Family Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Richards College of Business.

During the event – which took the shape of a conversation between Farese and Richards College of Business Dean Dr. Christopher Johnson – Farese reminisced on her childhood and growing up in the close-knit Carrollton community, stating that it influenced her life’s work. 

“A thread that carries through my life is a sense of community,” she explained. “Our memories are informed by an emotional process. When we recall our memories, we try to connect them with things that are important to us right now. My childhood was full of a sense of community from Southwire family picnics and fishing with my brother. That sense of belonging is something I search for constantly in my adult life.” 

A crowd listens to Nancy Richards Farese speak at UWG event.

Among the distinguished attendees were Farese’s brother, Roy Richards Jr., and members of Southwire’s executive leadership team, adding a special touch of community participation to the event.

Dr. Brendan Kelly, UWG’s president, welcomed guests to the event and highlighted the university’s dedication to community engagement, as outlined in its strategic plan.

“A public university should serve as a beacon of thought leadership within its community, offering a vibrant space for exploration and playing with ideas,” Kelly said. “We are thrilled to provide our students with diverse lenses through which they can gain insights into the world, and that is exactly what events like this are designed to do. I am grateful to Nancy and the members of the Southwire leadership team who are here with us to celebrate our collaboration and connectedness.”

Farese’s dedication to using visual storytelling as a catalyst for social change became apparent during her photographic journey in Bangladesh in 2017. While documenting the profound social issues of the region, she stumbled on a powerful moment when children, amidst the trauma, were found laughing and playing. This encounter led to the creation of her book, titled “Potential Space.” 

“We were photographing traumatic situations happening in Bangladesh, and we heard children laughing behind us,” recalled Farese. “When we turned around, we saw kids intuitively turning to play to heal, connect and feel human again.”

Nancy Richards Farese signs a copy of her book

Farese explained how we can look at the idea of playing differently if we alter our view of it. Play is not just for children, it is also for adults to take part in. 

“Since the dawn of mankind, play has been an activity,” explained Farese. “We need to learn again how to interact with our imaginations with unsupervised free play in low-risk environments.” 

As a token of appreciation and recognition, Johnson presented Farese with a gift on behalf of the university. The evening concluded with a celebration by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce of Farese’s induction into the Women in Manufacturing Hall of Fame by the Women in Manufacturing Association.

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photography by Julia Mothersole