Director of events and programming for Friends of Hemming Park, a nonprofit organization contracted with the city to revitalize the park in the center of Downtown.
Everyone that I talk to about Hemming Park agrees with me when I say it should be the most well-cared for, most beautiful park in the city because of where it is. It is the front porch for City Hall, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Main Library, very important places in our city. It’s the place that more visitors to the city probably see than any other public space in Jacksonville, and it really should be the best-maintained park in the city, and we all know that’s not the case right now.
I’m working hard advocating for the park around the city. Right now we have a park with an outdated design. It’s what a lot of cities did in the late 1970s and early 1980s when brick pavers were considered beautiful, but it doesn’t really fit its current location.
Part of what I’m doing is not only programming and creating events but also the advocacy work to hopefully, within the next five years, move through that process of getting the right stakeholders together to support the funding and creating that plan to redesign the park, then work with City Council and the mayor and staff to convince everyone that this is something that we need to do.
I came to Jacksonville as a banker when First Union and Atlantic Bank merged and after a few years of real estate lending I went to law school. I practiced law in Jacksonville with a large law firm and then in-house with a large corporation. I’ve been an attorney for 20 years. A few years ago, I sort of fell in love with nonprofit work and board work and was getting more and more involved.
I moved to Springfield and for the first time, I lived in a neighborhood that really needed some help. I ended up working for Springfield Preservation. I fell in love with community development and I’d always cared about Downtown revitalization.
I love to travel. I have spent the last 10 years working to make sure that I spend almost a week in every one of the 50 states. I set that goal a few years back and I managed to accomplish that. I’ve visited all the states and 25-30 countries. Part of that is because I love to see what other cities are doing and come back with ideas for Jacksonville.
Music has always been a really big part of my life. I play piano. Years ago I did a little bit of singing, but I have terrible stage fright. I spent most of my adult life terrified to speak in public, and about five years ago I decided I was going to force myself to overcome that. I’m happy to say that I still get a little bit nervous but I can manage to be on radio, TV and things like that.
What’s happening with The Barnett, the Laura Street Trio and the restaurants and apartments coming to Downtown is part of the reason I decided to come to Hemming Park. It’s perfect timing. We’re right on the cusp of great things. Jacksonville is a wonderful place to live.