We Love BuHi, the influential nonprofit founded by Brookhaven resident Marian Liou, announced today it has hired a new executive director.

Lily Pabian, an Atlanta native with 25 years working in marketing and nonprofit development, replaces Liou at the helm of the organization, which seeks to create connections within Buford Highway’s multicultural communities through storytelling, art and design. Liou stepped down from We Love BuHi in May to take a job as a program analyst for the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Lily Pabian is the new executive director of We Love BuHi. (Photo courtesy of Imagery By Rashell)

“Collaboration, connection and communication are pillars to my approach for development,” Pabian said in a press release. “And fostering relationships is at the core of how we will continue to deliver our mission. I look forward to building many within this community.”

Pabian said in the press release her family’s first home in Atlanta was on Buford Highway, at an apartment complex south of the Doraville MARTA Station.

“It’s where I learned to speak English and where I had my first taste of foods from other cultures,” Pabian said. “As a 5-year-old Chinese-American kindergartner in the late ’70s, all I wanted was to blend in, to do the impossible. Friendships that I made with other immigrants were special times, where I found solace, laughter and simply to feel like a kid.”

And although she has lived all over Atlanta, Pabian said her roots are on Buford Highway.

“I get a visceral sense of happiness everywhere I dine or shop. Buford Highway is thriving and constantly changing,” she said in the press release. “People need to know about it, and I have a strong sense to both protect it and educate everyone about how unique and exciting this area is.”

We Love BuHi board chair Alina Lee said Pabian’s skills will “deepen our initiatives throughout the 10-mile stretch of Buford Highway closest to Atlanta.”

In 2015, Liou, an attorney by profession, started an Instagram account called “We Love BuHi,” using it as a way to explore businesses in the Brookhaven/Chamblee/Doraville corridor and tell the stories of their owners. Partly a personal journey for her as a second-generation Chinese American, partly an expression of concern about the immigrant communities’ lack of a voice in urban planning, the exercise grew into a nonprofit that has recorded oral histories, painted murals, held tours by mass transit and bike, and more.

Pabian credits Liou for highlighting the corridor’s impact.

“Marian did what many influencers before her worked to do: She paved a platform for voices to be shared, appreciated, protected, and she did it with impeccable style,” she said in the release.

“I’m privileged to work with this dedicated team and look forward to executing programs to drive growth so that we can continue to unfold and share this community’s wealth of inspiring perspectives to Atlanta and the world.”

Learn more at welovebuhi.org or on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @welovebuhi.