A very happy birthday to JJ Abernathy, former president of the board of trustees of the Symphony. Many of you may know that JJ stepped down as president just a few weeks ago. We want to let those of you who do not know JJ to get a glimpse of the person who is one of the many who has done an indescribable amount of work to get the Symphony to where it is today. Thank you, JJ!
JJ Abernathy, a rancher’s daughter from Southwestern Idaho and a former international business executive based in Hong Kong, repatriated to America after an 18-year stint in Asia for life in the Great American Southwest. While in Hong Kong, she helped establish a 250,000 sq. ft. manufacturing operation in China, where she annually produced millions of toys for the world’s children, including Barbie for Mattel. She holds a degree from Brigham Young University, earned a diploma in the Management Development Program (MDP) sponsored by the Asian Women Management Association in Hong Kong, and attended University of Nevada in Las Vegas, Utah State University, and Southern Utah University for graduate classes in business, English literature, creative writing, and gifted and talented education. She received her MBA in nonprofit management through Marylhurst University.
She was awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to study medieval culture with an emphasis in medieval music at Yale University, and completed an institute sponsored by the Pittsburgh Symphony and NEH. She also completed a fellowship through the National Endowment for the Arts at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. As a former cellist in the Southwest Symphony Orchestra, JJ remains committed to the arts in her community. Currently, she serves as board chair of the Southwest Symphony Orchestra and writes a weekly column called “Music Times” for The Spectrum newspaper, a Gannett publication. She regularly contributes to Etched magazine (formerly élan). JJ has served as a secondary educator of English, sociology, and entrepreneurship. She lives with her husband Patrick in St. George, and is the mother of four musically-gifted children and grandmother of ten. In 2013, she received the Woman of Achievement Award in Entertainment by Utah Business Women. JJ embraces the philosophy that every life is like a symphony.