SEGD Staff Introductions Jennette Foreman, Director of Operations

SEGD Staff Introductions: Jennette Foreman, Director of Operations

Read Time: 5 minutes

It takes a lot of coordination among staff members to keep SEGD running smoothly—and each one is dedicated to you, the 2,200 SEGD members from 35 different countries who gather in 34 local chapters. During February, we would like to introduce you to each of the four SEGD staff. Last week we spoke with Nadia Adona, Director of Membership and Media. This week contributor Franck Mercurio speaks with Jennette Foreman, Director of Operations.

FMM
Hi Jennette! Hey, before we dive into your role here at SEGD, I hear that you’re a big sports fan.

JF
Yes, I love sports. My favorite sport to watch and play is football. I’ve played flag football in a college alumni network for over 10 years now. I don’t want to brag, but last season, we ended up winning the championship! And football was a big part of my wedding.  My bachelorette party was at a Washington Football Team game at Fedex Field. So, yeah, big on football. My husband and I eventually want to go to all of the stadiums in the US.

And my husband and I run; we do 5Ks. I’ve played field hockey on the Mall downtown. When my daughter Simone was younger, I’d pick her up after work, and we’d go there, and she’d watch me play field hockey.

FMM
Wow! And when you’re not enjoying sports, what do you do at SEGD?

JF
My title is Director of Operations. Cybelle Jones, CEO likes to say that I keep the ship afloat; I keep us sailing. So, accounting, operations, and HR. But there’s more to it; we’ve always said that we (the SEGD staff) wear a ton of hats. I also work with the logistics of the (SEGD) events. I’ve been working with industry partnerships, too, communicating with the sponsors. It’s interesting, now that we are half-staffed, we’re getting to help in other roles that we might not have done in the past.

FMM
And what are the “industry partnerships”?

JF
Our sponsors. I’ve always communicated with the sponsors, but now I’ve been able to help a little bit with the sales. Our industry partners support at least three or four programs throughout the year.

FMM
And before your recent promotion to Director of Operations, what were you doing for SEGD?

JF
When I originally started, I was the Program Assistant. My daughter was one, and she is now 17, so that was in February of 2005. It’s been exactly 16 years. (The math adds up!) I started on the awards program, our Global Design Awards. So, it evolved from Program Assistant to Program Associate to Program Manager to Senior Program Manager to Director of Events. (I think I got most of them!)

FMM
And, so originally, what brought you to SEGD? What was the draw for you?

JF
Well, I think it was luck, in a way. [laughs] I actually thought I wanted to be a lawyer, and realized that was not, at all, what I wanted to do. [laughs] I had my resume on ASAE (American Society of Association Executives). It’s a non-profit association website. And the CEO of SEGD at the time, Leslie Gallery Dilworth, saw my resume. She recognized Bucknell University in Lewisburg, PA and mentioned that my résumé looked a lot like hers when she was just getting out of college—and she liked it—and she happened to call me, because she was looking for some help on the design awards program. It was such a great fit because I needed something more creative—and that is definitely SEGD!

FMM
And today, you’re still involved in SEGD’s design awards?

JF
Yes, so, the big program happening now is the SEGD Global Design Awards, which I manage, and this is our first year moving virtual for the judging—which makes me a little sad because it’s such an awesome in-person experience. We’ve worked hard to translate the benefits of an in-person judging to virtual, and I’m hoping we can have juror comments on a lot of projects that don’t receive an award because often people want to know if there’s feedback from the judging. If I can remember, I tell them, but there’s around 400 projects! So, I can’t always remember them all.

FMM
So, after all these years at SEGD—and all the changes—you obviously still like it, right? You stayed!

JF
I love it! I haven’t ever dreaded coming to work, and that’s because SEGD is a family. The staff is like family, not co-workers. And the same thing with the SEGD membership. I love keeping up with the members and seeing them at the different conferences (interesting fact: I can name all the SEGD Conference cities since 2003). And when we see each other, we come around the registration desk (when it could be in-person!) and we give hugs. I love our group: a sharing, thoughtful community, and I think that’s what kept me here so long.

FMM
Anything else you’d like to say about the working culture at SEGD?

JF
I’ve enjoyed what Cybelle has done to connect us all and open up the community—and even more so. It’s just such an important part of SEGD: the networking, the community, and the sharing.

FMM
And where do you see SEGD heading in the future?

JF
Well, I’m really excited about the equity and diversity and justice initiatives that we’ve started. I think that’s been amazing for the design community, to broaden it. I also like the emphasis on students and young designers and SEGD’s “Present Yourself” program that we have and the mentorships. And also recognizing where we’ve been, where we’re going and bringing it all together. I’m really excited about that for SEGD in the future.

FMM
And how did the pandemic contribute to this broadening of SEGD's membership?

JF
So much has evolved over the past year; we’ve changed and pivoted so quickly. But then we had to, out of necessity, right?  So, I look forward to what is next. I think 2021 is this crucial year of “How is this going to work?” and “How is this going to look?” So, I’m excited for that and what’s going to come from it.

FMM
One more thing before we go. I hear you like to travel.

JF
Yes! When we could before the pandemic. My international trips were some of my best. Like when I went to Peru and Venice and Australia—and I miss that. For my 30th birthday, I went to Peru. It was right after our SEGD Conference in DC. An SEGD member bet me that I couldn’t stay on a mechanical bull at one of the parties after the conference.  I said “Uh, yeah, I can stay on the bull for more than 30 seconds.” And he was like “Alright, a hundred dollars,” and that’s how I got an extra hundred dollars for my trip, because I stayed on that mechanical bull for a while!

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