This spring, I had the pleasure of attending the LISC Community Development Awards where Peter Kageyama provided the keynote. Kageyama is the author of the book "Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places." I was so captivated by his keynote that I purchased Kageyama's book the following day.
This quote can be found in his book; "The lure of home - family, friends, history and the sense of comfort that comes only when we plant our roots in the very soil that spawned us - is a powerful thing. And when talent comes home after the journey, it comes home with experience and greater perspective of the world." That truth has resonated deeply with me since I read it.
It is with mixed emotion that I announce that I'll be resigning from the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville, effective September 13, 2018. My last day with the agency will be State of the Arts, a regional art and culture conference that I’ve been working on since earlier this year. Those of you who live in Jacksonville, I hope you can join me at this event. I will leave Jacksonville to return to the city where I was born, Erie, Pennsylvania. There, I will serve in the role of Executive Director of Erie Arts and Culture.
One of the reasons why I left Erie in 2012 was because I felt the city lacked cultural amenities, dynamic programming, and representation of diverse populations. At the age of 33, I am beyond humbled to be presented with an opportunity to impact the city in a way that could potentially prevent future generations from leaving for the same reasons that I initially left.
I will leave Jacksonville with an incredibly heavy heart. In my short time here, I have been adopted by the community; a community whom I have grown to love deeply. It is because of this love that I have approached my work through the Cultural Council with dedication, perseverance, and humility. I am not simply being sentimental when I say that I believe Jacksonville's cultural and creative community is an asset beyond measure that is worth celebrating, championing, and investing in.
In leaving, I encourage all those who work in Northeast Florida’s cultural and creative sector to reflect on the work that we do, why we do it, and those who we ultimately do it to serve. I believe that our sector can play a integral role in developing Jacksonville holistically. But, in order to do that, we must continue to dismantle the barriers that have historically contributed to inequality and oppression. We must remain dedicated to ensuring broad accessibility and public engagement with the arts culturally, socially, educationally, and economically. Lastly, we must dismantle the silos in which we sometimes operate and extend our collaborative nature to other sectors and industries.
Though I may be departing from Jacksonville, it is my sincere intention to continue fostering my relationships with everyone whom I've met during the last two years. I hope that we can create a cultural bridge that connects Jacksonville, Florida to Erie, Pennsylvania that results in an exchange program.
In closing, I want to thank everyone who has made my time in Jacksonville memorable. You all have impacted my life in such a tremendous way that it was not easy to say yes to an opportunity that would take me away from my adopted community. I thank you for being a part of my journey, a journey that now requires me to return to Pennsylvania and approach my work in Erie with the same passion and diligence that I exhibited in Jacksonville.