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Willard Jenkins

Artistic Director

Willard Jenkins serves as Artistic Director of the DC Jazz Festival. A graduate of Kent State University, Willard has served in many capacities within the academic, arts, media and entertainment industries acting as a consultant, arts administrator, artistic director, writer, journalist, broadcaster, educator and oral historian. Willard has served as artistic director of the Tri-C JazzFest (Cleveland, OH), the BeanTown Jazz Festival (Boston, MA), Tribeca Performing Arts Center (New York, NY), and as artistic consultant to the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival (MD), 651 Arts (Brooklyn, NY), Harlem Stage/Aaron Davis Hall (New York, NY) and the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC). As a jazz educator, he has taught history courses at Kent State University and Cleveland State University. He served as the executive director for the National Jazz Service Organization and as an administrator for Arts Midwest and the Great Lakes Arts Alliance. Willard is an experienced broadcaster having served as program host and producer at WPFW-FM (Washington, DC), WWOZ-FM (New Orleans, LA), KFAI-FM (Minneapolis, MN), XM Satellite Radio and BET. He is a skilled interviewer having conducted in-depth oral history interviews for the Smithsonian Institution, the Rhythm and Blues Foundation and the Weeksville Heritage Center. Willard is the author of the 2010 book African Rhythms, the autobiography of NEA Jazz Master Randy Weston. In addition, he continues to be a prolific and sought-after writer and journalist, having contributed chapters to several books, written a series of how-to technical assistance books for the jazz community, and contributed articles to numerous local, national and international publications, including daily newspapers and periodic journals, and publishes the blog Independent Ear on his site: He lives in Rockville, Maryland with his wife Suzan Jenkins, who serves as CEO of the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County.


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