Friday, November 18, 2022

Smiling person with short blonde hair wearing a gray blazer, white blouse, and gray pearl necklace and earrings.

Americans for the Arts is pleased to present Vice Mayor and Councilmember of the Mesa, Arizona City Council Jenn Duff with the inaugural Public Leadership in the Arts Award for City Council Leadership, in partnership with the National League of Cities. The award recognizes a city council member who has consistently advocated for the advancement of pro-arts legislation, funding, and promotion in their region.

Vice Mayor Duff has distinguished herself as one of the most ardent and engaged activists and advocates for the arts in the region. She worked to create, and served on, the City of Mesa Planning and Zoning Board and co-founded the Retail, Arts, Innovation and Livability (R.A.I.L) Community Development Corporation—an effort to work with neighbors, small businesses, artists, nonprofits, and others to help make the community more equitable and humane.

She also spent six years on the i.d.e.a. Museum Board of Directors, and has supported the Mesa Artspace Lofts, which includes up to 50 units of living and workspace for artists and their families. Vice Mayor Duff has taken personal initiative to help innovate and advance the arts and creative economy in Mesa, and has been a strong voice for a continued and growing commitment from the City of Mesa to support and invest in a downtown innovation district rooted in the arts and creativity. She is described as being present, engaged, and personally rooted in building the creative community in which she wishes to live, and which she knows will offer the best and richest opportunities for all the people of Mesa.

“I am honored to be recognized by Americans for the Arts along with the National League of Cities, and I accept the 2022 Public Leadership in Arts Award,” said Vice Mayor Duff. “Arts and culture play a vital role in our lives and communities. The City of Mesa is committed to its cultural assets. Our diverse relationships within the community speak volumes as a cultural hub. Arts and culture thrive in Mesa, and I take tremendous pride in that.”

Nolen V. Bivens, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, commented, “Vice Mayor Jenn Duff embodies the best attributes of a true arts advocate, and her impact is truly felt throughout the region. I applaud Vice Mayor Duff for her steadfast commitment and the results she has achieved. She is a leader very much worthy of this recognition.”

“The arts are critically important to the vibrancy of communities,” National League of Cities CEO and Executive Director Clarence Anthony said. “Vice Mayor Jenn Duff has distinguished herself as a strong arts advocate for her city, and NLC is proud to present her with the Public Leadership in the Arts Award for advancing the arts economy not just in Mesa, but for being a model for communities across the country.”

Cindy Ornstein, director of arts and culture for the City of Mesa, said, “I am delighted that Vice Mayor Jenn Duff is being so deservedly recognized for her amazing advocacy and support of the value of arts and culture in building and sustaining healthy and successful communities! She walks the talk, lives an arts-filled life, and uses her position to promote the many benefits of the arts to improve education, economic vibrancy, quality of life, mental and physical health, community connections, and cross-cultural understanding. Vice Mayor Duff is the perfect inaugural awardee in the City Council category, and I’m proud to have nominated her for this honor.”

Americans for the Arts is a national nonprofit organization that advances the arts and arts education advocacy in America. Based in Washington, D.C., it has a record of more than 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for everyone to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at