Jenny Johnson grew up in Evergreen with a family tradition of getting involved in activities, projects, and work that included other family members. In fact, after receiving her master’s degree in social work from CSU she was employed for seven years at Forest Heights residential treatment program for boys here in Evergreen at the same time that her father worked there as a therapist and her mother was in charge of the educational program for many years. Jenny loved working side by side with her parents for such a good cause and reflects back on that experience as a special time in her life.
With that kind of positive introduction to family togetherness, it seemed perfectly natural for her to continue that tradition when her attorney husband Pat Johnson became involved with the Center for the Arts (CAE) Board of Directors. When Pat was elected as president of that board, Jenny was working right alongside him with many volunteer activities of the Center. It was a particularly good fit for Jenny, because after a number of years as a social worker, Jenny had quit that career to focus on raising their son and to explore her passion for creating pottery.
In addition to helping out at numerous Center events, Jenny began teaching ceramic classes at the center and took initiative in overlooking the entire pottery program offered by the organization. This included a lot of cleaning, organizing and stocking materials and consulting with staff and students and other teachers about the type of classes that could be useful to the residents of the mountain community. Jenny has helped bring the center’s pottery activities into even more popularity but she did not stop there. Her contribution over that last 6-7 years to the Arts Center has been absolutely extraordinary.
For example, Jenny has used her considerable organizational skills and sweet (but persistent!) personal style to be a major organizer of the CAE’s yearly Summerfest for the last four or five years. Summerfest is one of the biggest nonprofit summer events in our town and requires enormous amounts of investment and organization to bring the event to fruition. This includes consulting and working closely with CAE staff and many volunteers. It also includes cajoling, encouraging, pleading and corralling many others to take responsibility for various aspects of this huge endeavor and keeping a systemic picture of all the moving parts. Jenny takes a few weeks off at the completion of each year’s current event, and then quickly is back helping to strategize and reinvigorate the program for the following year.
Summerfest is a wonderful event that requires the collaborative efforts of staff, board members, volunteers, sponsors, and many others in our community, but Jenny is an integral part of the process. Jenny started doing this work even before she was officially a member of the CAE Board of Directors. When her husband went off of the board due to term limitations, she was quickly snatched up and urged to become a board member.
Like a lot of wonderful volunteers in this great community, Jenny was a little hesitant to be interviewed for this column, first because she is slammed with Summerfest planning, and second, like many other devoted volunteers in our town, she didn’t want to take up too much attention and was a little uncomfortable with the focus on her. However, they still need more volunteers for all the various projects that are a part of Summerfest, so she agreed to do it with the idea that some readers might get intrigued and decide to volunteer which is as simple as calling the Center for the Arts at 303-670-0056.
If her involvement with Summerfest wasn’t enough, Jenny was also instrumental in another huge CAE enterprise. In late 2009, she and hubby Pat were approached by some people they knew in Georgetown and asked if CAE might be interested in some rental space in that historic town. The possibility of another art gallery venue in a heavy tourist area was full of potential. The two of them enlisted the enthusiasm of CAE Executive Director Steve Sumner and got permission from the Board to pursue this offer further. Within a very short period of time and an incredible amount of work from this dynamic trio, The Colorado Mountain Art Gallery, an artists’ co-op was opened in June of 2010.
This venue gave Evergreen artists an opportunity to display their artistic endeavors in a location with lots of tourist traffic from the ski and summer vacation crowd. Jenny was not only instrumental in the initial development of the project but has continued to offer her organizational acumen since the inception. This project has led to all those who display art there becoming members of the CAE and subsequently many of them donating their artistic work for CAE events such as 120 for 120 this year. The cross pollination between Evergreen artists and other artists in the mountain community owes a lot to Jenny’s leadership. She did such a fantastic job of helping to organize this along with Pat and Steve, that the CAE gave her a special recognition award for Volunteer Excellence at the end of 2010.
By the way, Jenny is also currently the office administrator of Pat’s Evergreen law firm, Johnson and Associates. Creating time for all these endeavors is a tribute to her motivation and her clear, concise ability to recognize important issues and address them effectively.
P.S. Jenny is an extremely talented ceramicist and will display her tasteful, usable, and reasonably priced pottery at the CAE Members’ Tent at the Summerfest.