Just two months into her new role with the City of Beverly Hills as its Director of Community Services, Jenny Rogers is eager to transform the town into a veritable arts and culture hub and she’s taking steps to do just that.
This spring she plans to convene an arts and culture symposium involving all major arts organizations, non-profits and for-profits in an effort to catalyze greater synergy, which will transitively benefit the community.
“Often what I’ve found in the past is that a lot of those organizations have never been in the same room before,” she told the Courier. “A lot of the arts organizations have similar challenges and the City has a strong role to play in support and advocacy, but we can’t do it all by ourselves. And so, bringing everybody together really multiplies our capacity to tackle some of the challenges.”
In tandem with moving forward on the City’s arts and culture expansion, Rogers is soliciting input from the community at large. A survey (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BHartsandculture) is now active and she encourages everyone to participate in order to engender a robust community response.
In addition to helping grow arts and culture in the City, in tandem with the newly reformatted Arts & Culture Commission, Rogers will oversee the department’s divisions of Administrative Support, Human Services, Library, and Recreation and Parks comprised of 254 part-time individuals and 71 full-time employees. She will also direct the development and implementation of innovative programs to enhance the community, cultural, educational, leisure and library services.
“I really believe that the creation of community is alchemical, that what we do in a Community Services department is literally to collaborate with the local citizens,” she said. “We are creating community together and that is a process I’m incredibly passionate about.”
Rogers’ formative years were spent growing up in a small town in Nebraska. Her mother worked in social services, giving the young Rogers a firsthand look at how meaningful and transformational community service could be. She still recalls vividly watching her mom help people transition from a life of homelessness into one with a job.
“I saw the power of what she was doing and how she helped people and I think that was something that was very impactful,” she recounted.
After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Brown University with a BA in Art and Semiotics, Rogers moved out to San Francisco where she began to professionally cultivate her “deep and abiding passion” for community service working for the City of San Francisco. Tasked with supervising the facilities at Boeddeker Park in the Tenderloin neighborhood and spearheading its programing, Rogers said she instantly fell in love with public service as a career path.
After obtaining her MFA in Fine Art from Pennsylvania State University, Rogers returned to the San Francisco to work in the division of Culture and Arts. While moving forward with implementing a model to bring high-end arts into the community, Rogers said she got to know virtually every neighborhood in San Francisco and was involved with all of its 25 large community centers.
In tandem with her professional career in community service for the past 25 years, Rogers has continued to also cultivate her artistic passions. A trained videographer ( jennyrogers.com), Rogers also serves as Artistic Director for Trick Saddle, a theatre company where she does set design and direction for theatrical productions.
Most recently before coming to Beverly Hills to fill the role vacated by former Director Nancy Hunt-Coffey, who was named Assistant City Manager last year, Rogers worked for the City of Mill Valley as its Director of Arts & Recreation. She also recently helped develop the Marin County Arts & Culture Master Plan.
Rogers underscored how excited she is to support Beverly Hills’ arts and culture expansion via community outreach and engagement. Particularly given the small-town community of Beverly Hills and its illustrious past, Rogers said she anticipated there would be a wealth of local talent to mine from within the City’s own residential stock. She envisions, for example, local talent using the newly renovated theatre at Greystone Mansion to perform.
“My hope is to really support that [arts and culture expansion] effort so that when we come out of the chrysalis of our cocoon that everyone feels that this has been their process and they feel that this is an amazing transformation that they can be really proud of,” Rogers said.
“I’m as passionate about community recreation as I am about the arts. It’s just something that I think impacts peoples’ lives in a way like no other. It’s this incredible democratizing thing when you have community services because it’s something that people can access from the cradle … all through their lives,” she added.