Dear Jazz Institute of Chicago Family,
After over two decades serving as Executive Director of the Jazz Institute of Chicago, I am stepping back to focus more on the artistic and creative sides of both the organization and my own endeavors. A search for my successor is underway. I look forward to remaining on the team as Director of Artistic Collaborations.
Time and again I am reminded of why I have devoted my life to the cause of jazz. It is because of the community that upholds this music, the people who are uplifted and connected by its transformative experiences. We come together because the spirit of the music unites us across geography, age and race. We come together to be moved–to dance, to cry, to be filled with joy. We come together to share the beauty of it all.
When I stepped up to the plate in 1996, I was the sole staff member managing a budget of $175,000. We now have 8 staff members, a budget of almost a million dollars, and produce nearly 50 events a year, including educational programs for youth and adults, free programming year round in Chicago’s neighborhood parks, and showcases for emerging artists.
In my work at the Jazz institute, I’ve been lucky to watch many small seeds that I helped plant grow into successful projects that have helped our community to thrive. I’ve been lucky to collaborate with remarkable artists whose work transforms audiences into communities, often uplifting us and transcending the boundaries of possibilities.
My deep passion for the music has inspired me, repeatedly, to find as many ways as possible to share the power of jazz to transform people through its openness, welcome and tolerance. I am proud of what I have accomplished to develop the Jazz Institute as its Executive Director, but I also believe that it is time for me to step into a new role that allows me to contribute my strengths and invite new perspectives to guide the organization into the future.
We now have a strong team of seasoned professionals and young, talented and committed staff members who give me great optimism that the Jazz Institute of Chicago has attracted and can continue to attract the next generation of devoted activists to carry the music and the mission of our organization forward.