Getting to Know...TPAC's new CEO JENNIFER TURNER
Summer of 2019 has proven to be an exciting time for theater artists, technicians and patrons in Nashville, with changes at the top of several companies' leadership teams, including Tennessee Performing Arts Center. With Kathleen O'Brien's retirement as CEO in May, TPAC has welcomed Jennifer Turner to Nashville to take the reins of the burgeoning performing arts enterprise just blocks from the Tennessee state capitol.
Previously, Turner served as the executive vice president and managing director at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, an acclaimed arts institution in Southern California with an annual budget of over $60 million and serving one million annual visitors through its performances, community engagement and education programs.
Now living in Nashville and leading the team at TPAC, Turner found time in her busy schedule to respond to our queries in hopes of giving our readers some insight into who she is, what her vision is for TPAC and her impressions of the arts community in Music City - as well as providing some answers about her favorite shows and who should play her onstage or on film.
Join us in Getting to Know...Jennifer Turner:
Where are you from originally? I was born and raised in Trenton, Michigan, which is a small town south of Detroit.
Where did you go to school? My undergraduate degree is from Michigan State University, and I went to graduate school for public administration/nonprofit management at Roosevelt University in Chicago.
What brought you to Nashville? The opportunity at TPAC brought me to Nashville. I had heard wonderful things about the city - and spent some time here for a work conference a few years ago. Now that I live here, it's a completely new experience since the city has changed so much.
What's been your biggest challenge since joining TPAC? When you start a new role, it's an exciting time, and you want to take on everything at once. Pacing myself - and taking the time to learn the organization and the arts community - has been essential.
What has been your impressions of the Nashville theater community thus far? I have found Nashville's theater community to be very supportive and welcoming. I believe that success across the arts community benefits everyone, and I look forward to working collaboratively with them. One of these many collaborations will take place next August, which will be the Centennial celebration of the 19th Amendment. Nashville is where the pivotal vote to ratify the 19th Amendment took place, and we are thrilled to explore and acknowledge this important part of history through the arts by partnering and planning celebrations with Nashville's cultural community.
Theatrically speaking, what sets Nashville apart from other cities and TPAC from other companies? Nashville has experienced tremendous growth over the years, and has so much happening right now, but the community still remains extremely loyal to TPAC and its non-profit mission. Our Board is extraordinarily supportive and committed to TPAC, while being proud of the work that we do in Nashville and in Tennessee.
What do you hope to accomplish during the coming years at TPAC? In the coming years, we plan on expanding our community engagement work, and are also working on plans to celebrate our 40thanniversary season in 2020. It's a wonderful time to reach new audiences and expand our reach across Tennessee with our education programs and new programming.
Now for some fun...
What was your first introduction to live theater? I have to give all the credit to my high school drama teacher, Ms. Julie Schrimer!
What are your favorite shows? The Sound of Music and Les Misérables are my two classic musical favorites, but Hamilton is also amazing. I am looking forward to seeing it in Nashville on New Year's Eve. My favorite show from this season was Hadestown - I cannot stop listening to the cast recording!
What musical best exemplifies your life story? I always love to think about the different paths that you take in life, so the musical If/Then really resonates with me. I'm also very driven and value my close friendships, so I would have to choose Wicked as a close second.
Who would you like to play you in the onstage version of your life? It would have to be Laura Benanti. She's one of my favorites and I love following her on Twitter!
About Jennifer Turner
Prior to coming to TPAC, Jennifer Turner served as the Executive Vice President and Managing Director for Segerstrom Center for the Arts, an acclaimed arts institution in Southern California with an annual budget of over $60 million and serving one million annual visitors through its performances, community engagement and education programs. During her tenure at the Segerstrom Center, Jennifer built a world-class leadership team, led innovative community initiatives, and spearheaded multi-million-dollar capital development projects, including the successful completion of the 56,000 square foot Julianne and George Argyros Plaza that provides year-round free outdoor performances for the entire Orange County. With over 20 years of experience in nonprofits arts, Turner previously was the Chief Operating Officer for the national historic landmark Auditorium Theatre in Chicago and held roles with Michigan Opera Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company and Harper College. Turner completed her undergraduate studies at Michigan State University and has a graduate degree from Roosevelt University in Public Administration, Nonprofit Management.