by Caleb Chapman
And just like that, two years is over. Like most milestones in our lives, the conclusion of my service as JEN president was a day that often felt like it would never come, yet here we are. A year ago I reported to you that as a board, we were well on our way to accomplishing the 5 highly ambitious initiatives the board committed to before my term was over:
- Double membership
- Create Area Units, Chapters, and Jazz Societies
- Launch new JEN website
- Develop regional conferences
- Hire a full time Managing Director
And today, as I leave office I am happy to report that we have indeed accomplished all of them!
This is the result of thousands of hours of work by our volunteer committee members, conference staff, and especially, our board, officers, and office staff. Our co-founder, Mary Jo Papich commented to me a few days ago that she felt like our board goals were “a bit lofty” when they were outlined two years ago. That was probably an understatement. Those goals were near impossible! Membership had not changed in 6 years. Launching a new website would require hundreds of hours of planning and migration of data across platforms. There was no staff or bandwidth to run any regional events. JEN had never had a full-time employee. There were so many great reasons those goals should have been out of reach. But they weren’t. In short, the impossible became possible thanks to truly the best board I have ever had the honor to serve with; our super-human Managing Director, Sharon Burch; our genius Conference Coordinator and Co-Founder, Dr. Lou Fischer; and our dedicated Marketing Manager, Steve Nigohosian. This group IS the definition of an all-star team.
It has indeed been one of the greatest honors of my life to serve in this capacity for the last two years. I loved getting to know so many of you at our annual conferences. More than a few of my closest friends in life have come through associations created at JEN. As you know, there is something magical about our community of artists, students, educators, exhibitors, and enthusiasts.
Also, I loved getting to see first hand the impact that JEN is having in our classrooms, in our concert halls, in our industry, and in the world! This organization has an important mission – one that we are succeeding at. Jazz music continues to evolve as new voices emerge, and the legacy of the greats continues to be felt. Improvised music is alive and well and JEN is the advocate such an important music deserves.
Just a few days ago we celebrated the 10-year birthday of JEN. I am so excited that as we start our next decade JEN is indeed poised to explode in growth and impact thanks to a strong membership base, a passionate and committed managing director, and a talented and highly respected president elect. Before they started JEN I already had a deep respect for Mary Jo and Dr. Lou. Now that JEN is doing so much for so many I worry that my debt to them is one that I will never be able to repay, but I am grateful I had a chance to contribute something to such a great cause.
Of course, while my presidency has concluded, my love and service to JEN certainly has not. You will continue to see me at JEN events around the globe and I will be happily doing what I can to support the next list of “impossible goals” for our organization. I love each of you in my JEN family and I am already looking forward to the music and the hang in January. See you in Reno!
In addition to his role as JEN President, Caleb Chapman is Founder and President of Caleb Chapman’s Soundhouse, Director of the Crescent Super Band, and Artistic Director for Pioneer High School for the Performing Arts. He serves on several boards including the Utah Arts Council, and is an award-winning musician, producer, educator, author, and speaker. To learn more about Caleb, please visit www.ccsoundhouse.com.