Art and business are very much connected, commented Jennifer Long, newly appointed founding executive director of Create Dunwoody, an organization devoted to promoting Dunwoody business through arts and culture.
“Arts and culture drive business,” Long said. “They create a vibe, an energy that attracts people—and businesses to an area. I plan to help leverage that energy to help Dunwoody and the entire metro area continue to grow and thrive.”
The announcement of Long as Create Dunwoody’s executive director described her as “a leader with more than two decades of entrepreneurship, nonprofit and corporate experience.” She was previously executive director for The Creatives Project, an organization designed to enrich and strengthen local communities through quality arts-based education and outreach.
“I have a passion for working with artists—seeing their work come to life, creating a space for them, then creating a space for the community to come and appreciate their work,” said Long, a graduate of Hampton University with a bachelor’s in broadcast journalism – mass media arts. Her professional history includes assuming the popular radio on-air personality “Shea Love” role on Atlanta’s KISS 104.1 FM. She hosts KISS 104.1 Sunday Vibes and The Georgia Lottery; she has also provided voice-over talent for several local brands.
Long combines a background in the arts with a business foundation, according to the announcement. She received her master’s in business administration in strategic management and marketing from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.
The new executive director also has demonstrated a commitment to civic engagement, serving on the executive board as president of the Dunwoody Atlanta Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. She has also served as an Atlanta board member for the National Association of Multi-Ethnicity in Communications, and Hampton Alumni Association, along with the Southern California Chapter of Women in Cable Telecommunications, and National Sales Network.
The easing of the pandemic has meant patrons returning to such popular Dunwoody arts attractions as Stage Door Players theater and the Spruill Arts Center. Long said now is an exciting time for this next step by Create Dunwoody, funded by the city of Dunwoody, Discover Dunwoody, and the Dunwoody Development Authority, as an alliance to advance commerce and community through arts and culture.
“I just came on board March 1 so at this stage I’m meeting with key players in the arts community to understand the current climate and align my plans with the vision of those who are already a part of Dunwoody’s rich cultural traditions,” she explained.
“I am thrilled to be part of an organization focused on innovation and creativity, using arts and culture as a vehicle to expand economic growth in Dunwoody,” she continued. “I look forward to building ongoing partnerships and identifying new collaboration methods.”
Long was chosen by a search committee led by Create Dunwoody member Susan Mitchell that included board executive leadership team members Board President Terri Julian Polk, Erica Anstey, Bill Grossman, and Debbie Fuse, along with Carolynn Lord. The committee was impressed by her experience in sales, marketing, journalism, data, and technology with a deep understanding of strategy, analytics and organizational growth, according to the announcement, which added, “Building on that combination of experience, she firmly believes in a willingness to challenge the status quo in service of innovation and great ideas.”
The Dunwoody announcement said building more reasons for those who live, work, and play in Dunwoody to stay and spend more time in the city is its primary goal with Create Dunwoody, adding that Long “is responsible for heightening that goal through further development and a focus on arts and community connections. She is also responsible for fundraising, as well as building and incorporating additional economic development drivers through new, large-scale, public-facing events in the community.”
“Create Dunwoody will focus its efforts on driving economic vitality by building strong partnerships in the business and arts communities to bring forward and amplify fun and exciting events that expand the culture in Dunwoody,” Board Chairman Polk said in the announcement. “We look forward to building sustainable relationships to improve the quality of life for all who live, work and play in our city.”