An Artful Afternoon at the Alumni Women’s Luncheon

The 2023 Marist School Alumni Women’s Luncheon took place Wednesday, March 22 at Bella Cucina, founded by Alisa Barry ’82 in Atlanta, Georgia. The event celebrated community, mentorship, and the lifelong impact of a Marist education.
Bella Cucina’s curated products for the kitchen and home, infused and displayed with artistic style, provided the perfect conversation starters for the Marist alumni present. During an afternoon gathering held within Barry’s lifestyle and culinary art exhibit, attendees found no shortage of engaging discussions and inspiration.

Marist Alumni Association President Megan Citarella Stewart ’95 opened the luncheon with welcoming remarks before a prayer was offered by Dr. Kelleen Fitzgerald ’85, who acts as co-vice president of the Marist Alumni Service & Spirituality Committee. Organizational psychologist Dr. Sarah Carr Evans ’93 served as moderator while Marist alumni listened to Barry illustrate her path to professional success and fulfillment and how she navigated career highs and lows along the way.

The doors of Bella Cucina opened for dozens of Marist women to reunite with classmates in Barry’s pièce de résistance. The current home of Bella Cucina Artful Food, an all-natural artisan product line, comes after a long career of Barry honing her craft in the culinary arts. Before Bella Cucina opened in the Buckhead Village District, Barry ran a popular café in Atlanta inspired by her culinary training in Berkeley, California, and sabbaticals in Italy. While perfecting the menu, Barry discovered a desire for customers to take ingredients home with them. The journey to the current business structure Barry enhanced and rebranded over the years was informed in many ways by her Marist School experience.

Barry is no stranger to advocating for her goals. When her family relocated from Chicago to Atlanta, then-sophomore Barry took the responsibility of finding a new high school upon herself. After researching, Barry decided she would apply to attend Marist her junior year. Even though the academics, extracurriculars, and tight-knit community initially drew Barry to Marist, it was the way her teachers fully embraced and supported who she was as a student and person that made the biggest impact on Barry’s life.

“It took me many, many years to embrace my artistic side. That is the foundation of everything I do,” Barry said. “The teachers at Marist fully embraced this about me from the beginning. They see and recognize each individual. I thrived because of that.”

Evans recognized that Barry’s strengths are indicative of a woman succeeding in STEAM work: science, technology, arts, engineering, and mathematics. “You are receiving data from the world,” Evans explained, “and you are outputting that data as art. Women are very STEAM-oriented and we just present differently in how it looks.”

The afternoon luncheon was brimming with the kind of “aha moments” that come from being appreciated for one’s own unique strengths, just as Barry’s Marist teachers understood and supported her. That kind of courage and ability to recover from adversity are the skills Barry used to arrive at a thriving and gratifying professional calling today.

Barry paid that wisdom forward as she advised the women gathered to “tap into your unique gift. Trust your purpose. Be quiet and still to hear what that is. Find somebody that has your heart and will support you along the way. Sometimes being heard and seen can give us the confidence we need to go out in the world and be that purpose.”

Evans closed the afternoon with an inspirational call to not only find that support and acceptance in one’s own life, but also to be that champion in others’ lives. She urged those in attendance to not undervalue themselves. Instead, be a mentor and advocate for those who need one.

Marist is grateful to Alisa Berry ’82 for hosting our Alumni Women’s Luncheon at Bella Cucina, all the past and future Marist mentors, and our wide community of support.

View photos from the luncheon taken by photographer Devon Morgan McKenna ’00 of Photosynthesis Studio.

Marist School

3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30319-1899
(770) 457-7201
An Independent Catholic School of the Marist Fathers and Brothers