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Jennifer Armstrong of the Illinois Arts Council Agency Appointed New Associate Director of SMU’s National Center for Arts Research

Armstrong will connect NCAR research findings to the national arts field

Jennifer Armstrong

Jennifer Armstrong, former director of community arts development at the Chicago-based Illinois Arts Council Agency, has been named the new associate director of the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) at SMU. She began her new position in late March.

Armstrong’s primary role will be to connect NCAR and its research findings to the local and national arts field through online engagement, symposia, conference attendance, presentations and event coordination, and to foster conversations among arts community members nationally about ways NCAR’s findings can help them overcome challenges and increase their impact.

“I’m thrilled to have Jennifer join the NCAR team,” said NCAR Director Zannie Voss. “She has years of experience in arts and community development at the local, state and national levels. She has expertise working with arts agencies, arts service organizations and other stakeholders to collectively build a strong, creative and connected community. She will be a valuable asset to NCAR’s continued growth.”

“I am honored and excited to join NCAR,” said Armstrong. “I believe the arts have incredible power to transform individual lives and entire communities, and they must be accessible to all. I have always been a passionate advocate for the arts as a fundamental part of public and private life, and I look forward to working with stakeholders across the country to share NCAR’s research in ways that can help foster the development of the arts nationwide.”

During her nearly nine years at the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Armstrong worked to support the growth of, and access to, the arts in Illinois. She was responsible for managing a portfolio of grants, providing technical assistance and resources, co-producing a biennial statewide conference, and building and strengthening a network of local arts agency leaders. She also served as social media manager, and developed relationships with other state and statewide agencies concerned with rural and urban community development.

Prior to that, Armstrong served for three years as inaugural executive director for 40 North/88 West in Champaign, Ill., an organization dedicated to fostering arts, culture and education in Champaign County. In addition, she spent four years as program coordinator for Arizona State University’s Department of Dance and five years with the Peoria Area Arts Council in Peoria, Ill.

Armstrong also has served as a volunteer at state, national and international levels with numerous arts organizations. She is currently an advisor for Art of the Rural and board member for the Robert E. Gard Foundation. She was formerly a Rural Development Research Team member with the Kettering Foundation, a member and past chair of the State Arts Agencies Community Development Peer Group, and, for 12 years, a board member of The Association of American Cultures. She received the first annual Americans for the Arts Emerging Leader Award and has served on advisory committees for numerous initiatives and organizations in Illinois. She earned a B.A. from Millikin University in Decatur, Ill.

Armstrong succeeds Marla Rubio Teyolia, who left the position to launch her own consulting firm.

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