NJW Sets New Direction

by Lori Mechem

In April of 2017, seventy people gathered to help plan the future of the Nashville Jazz Workshop. The Workshop had grown in leaps and bounds for the past twenty years, but it was ready for a shift. Our strategic planning session was called “DesignShop” and was held at the Nelson Andrews Center in Nashville, TN. In attendance were our board, staff, instructors, professional business owners, musicians, designers, enthusiasts, and musical friends. Some traveled from different parts of the country to be there for this strategic weekend.

Over three days, we came up with a bold, comprehensive plan to take the Nashville Jazz Workshop to the next level and beyond.

One of the main goals that emerged from DesignShop was to hire a new Executive Director. Consequently, in March 2018, our Board of Directors put together a search committee that helped define what we wanted in a new ED. They put out the call, and we received sixty-one applications from all over the United States. From that initial response, the committee selected the top four applicants for in-person interviews.

We are thrilled to announce that our new Executive Director is Eric Dilts. He comes to us from Peoria, Illinois, where he was recently an account manager for Morgan Stanley. Eric is a percussionist who also has an extensive background in music business, managing copyrights, CD and DVD production, and licensing. We feel his expertise in finance and development will lead NJW to the next level of our future plans.

I started as Executive Director in 2002 with no real formal training, and Roger took over the role in 2012. We feel grateful for the lasting partnerships we have created with other arts organizations, the support we have received from numerous local and national businesses, and the tireless commitment from our many individual donors. All these relationships have enabled us to grow our brand, present live jazz to our community, and bring jazz education to the public. Since we started the school in 1998, the most important part of our journey has been mentoring thousands of students. We feel proud of the work we have done to bring the Nashville Jazz Workshop to this point.

Looking forward, Roger and I are excited about our new roles at NJW. I will continue to be Education Director, and Roger will become Program Director. Our new positions will allow us to concentrate on what we each do best: strengthening our educational offerings and managing our world-class performance programming.

Onward and Upward!