Lorraine Patricia Mills passed away peacefully on May 4, 2022, following a prolonged illness. Lorri was born on October 31, 1950, in San Francisco, California, to William and Audrey Mills. Never one to accept limitations, Lorri was the first in her family to attend college. She earned a BA in American History from University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1972, and from there pursued a PhD in History from the University of Texas in Austin, where she met her husband, Don Stephens.
Lorri brought her keen intellect, unsurpassed organizational skills and enormous heart to every relationship and project she touched. She served as the COO for Progressive Redevelopment, Inc. (PRI), a nonprofit dedicated to developing affordable housing, from 1997 to its closing in 2013. She oversaw the development of multiple affordable housing projects for low income and homeless individuals and families. Most notably, she was the Project Developer for the rehabilitation of the Historic Scottish Rite campus in Decatur. The determination and skill she brought to this extremely daunting project resulted in office space for nonprofit organizations and small business owners and a critical catalyst for the resurgence of the Oakhurst community. As COO, Lorri was also integral to the completion of Hope House, a 70-bed treatment and transitional housing facility in downtown Atlanta. She oversaw the final stages of the development and launch of operations. In recognition of her donation of time and treasure, Hope House named a computer lab and library named after her -- The Lorraine P. Mills Library.
Lorri lent her guidance and support as a board member of numerous nonprofit organizations, including CaringWorks and Project Community Connections, Inc., both of which were affiliated with PRI. She also took over the helm of PRI's property management affiliate, PRISM, Inc. Dedicated to community service, she also volunteered at such organizations as Habitat for Humanity and Decatur-area Emergency Assistance Ministry (DEAM).
Lorri was an active member of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, serving as an elder and deacon for many years as well as devoting countless hours to the work of the buildings and grounds committee as well as the finance committee, chairing both committees at various times. She was a founding member of the RED Group (Race, Ethnicity and Diversity) at the church, and she greeted all visitors to worship or any other program.
Lorri Mills was also a philanthropist, quietly giving to causes that supported affordable housing, refugee resettlement, people experiencing homelessness, education and so much more. Most important, Lorri was a loyal and loving friend. She had a gift for recognizing potential in her friends and family and supporting those she loved in realizing that potential. She leaves a legacy of love and service that will no doubt continue to inspire the many people who loved her.
Lorri is survived by her brother, Cliff Mills, and niece, Heather (Mike) Zavagnin, and cousins Marlene Ebejer, Kevin (Michelle) Mills, Michael (Donna) Figone, Karen Gruber, Vicky (Michael) Vitalie, and Jan (Ron) Jaramillo. She was predeceased by her parents and husband. There will be a memorial service on Saturday, May 21, 2022, at 2:00 PM at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church in Decatur. In lieu of flowers, you are encouraged to make a gift in Lorri's memory to the Mommy & Me Refugee Family Literacy Program or Decatur-area Emergency Assistance Ministry (DEAM).