A native Atlantan, Ren grew up exploring the city and surrounding area and has a life-long interest in sharing its history and preserving its parks and green spaces. He and Helen, his wife and co-author, have crisscrossed the city and state researching and writing their popular companion guides Atlanta Walks and Georgia Walks. In addition to these two guides, the couple has been contributing writers for the Insight Guide to Atlanta and Savannah, Fodor's Pocket Atlanta and Fodor's Cityguide Atlanta.
Ren has written more than 100 magazine and newspaper articles on regional, national, and international travel for publications including: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution (some articles were syndicated to other Cox newspapers), Georgia Journal Magazine (served as contributing editor, 1994 - 1998), Georgia Magazine (EMC), Atlanta Magazine, Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Magazine, Where Georgia Magazine, American Way Magazine (American Airlines in-flight magazine), Tennis Magazine, and Appalachian Trailway News. He has also served as instructor and leader for U.S. Army Reserve unit "staff rides" (explorations) at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park and at Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park.
Ren is also a hospital administrator with more than 30 years experience working in various positions for Emory University Hospitals. He is active in the field of medical ethics, serving as co-chair of the ethics committee for Emory Crawford Long Hospital and as a founding board member of the Health Care Ethics Consortium of Georgia, the largest health care ethics network in the nation.
Ren earned a Bachelor's Degree in History from Emory University in 1973 and a Master's Degree in Public Health and Hospital Administration from Tulane University in 1977. He has also completed advanced studies in bioethics at Georgetown University.
A native of Lewistown, Pennsylvania, Helen moved to Atlanta in 1974 after seeing the city in its majestic spring foliage. Helen earned a Bachelor's Degree in Home Economics: Family and Child Development from The Ohio State University in 1973 and a Master's Degree in Education from Georgia State University in 1980. She has also completed advanced studies in education at Emory University and has served as an adjunct professor of educational psychology at Oglethorpe University.
Her 34-year career as an educator has included directorship of two child-care centers, serving as an elementary classroom teacher in the Atlanta Public School System for 20 years, and working for the past seven years as a teacher for special needs children at a private Jewish day school in Atlanta.
Helen has been a collaborator in the research and writing of the couple's numerous guidebooks and articles. She has been passionate in promoting walking as a family activity and has, on many occasions, adapted materials from Atlanta Walks and Georgia Walks for use in school programs and field trips.
The couple has appeared on local radio and television shows, and has given presentations to school, civic, outdoor interest, and other groups in an effort to both promote their guidebooks and to urge Atlantans and Georgians to get out of their cars and explore the area's rich history and scenic attractions by foot. The authors have offered guided walks to a number of groups including attendees to the 1988 Democratic Convention held in Atlanta, DeKalb Life Enrichment (senior citizen) groups, and for attendees at the 2007 American Historical Association Annual Meeting (Ren served as co-chair of the Local Arrangements Committee under Dr. Jamil Zainaldin, Executive Director of the Georgia Humanities Council). Ren is also an active member of the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).
In addition to their writing, Ren and Helen are award winning photographers. Ren is a past president of the Southeastern Photographic Society and both have been students of Neil Chaput de Saintonge, owner and director of the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Their images have accompanied nearly all of the books and articles listed above. In 2004, Georgia Magazine received an award for a photographic essay featuring several of Ren¿s images of Cumberland Island National Seashore off the Georgia coast.
In addition to work on Best Hikes Near Atlanta, Ren and Helen have recently completed work on "Our Mark On This Land": Rediscovering the Civilian Conservation Corps' Legacy in America's State, Regional, and National Parks. This historical guidebook is scheduled for release by the non-profit Center for American Places in 2009.
Ren and Helen have one son, Thomas Nelson Davis, age 23. Nelson grew up exploring Atlanta and Georgia and has developed his own passion for history and travel. He is currently completing a Master's Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering, with specialization in Transportation Systems, at Georgia Tech. He is married to the former Alyson Adkisson of Kennesaw, Georgia.