NEW FACES: Meet Jennifer

Please join us in welcoming Jennifer Kennedy to our HORIZONS team as an assistant event coordinator. A gifted communicator with a bubbly, friendly personality, Jennifer brings to her role a wealth of experience in planning and executing complex events. Notably, Jennifer and her husband owned Bay Valley Academy, a dance studio and gymnastics club, for 12 years. She served as the creative director and also taught classes and ran the competition dance team. She also worked in the Freeland Community School District as a full-time k-12 substitute teacher and ran the middle school office.

Jennifer clearly has a flair for the dramatic. She studied theater her first three years of college, then toured with The Young Americans, a performing arts organization. When she returned to Michigan after her travels, she enrolled at SVSU, where she graduated with a B.A. in communications and a minor in theater, all which served her well when running a creative business.

“Right now my job at HORIZONS entails a lot of learning – working in our event management system, putting together BEOs (banquet event orders), interpreting floor plans and getting details all lined up and ready to go on paper. We put together a picture for each event on paper first for our team, with all aspects – food, beverages, setup details … all of this input in the system. It allows us to move the pieces around to deliver the best possible experience for guests. I love the teamwork aspect here. Everyone has been terrific helping me learn the business and I’m enjoying the process of learning.”

Jennifer added that one thing she was proud of from her time owning Bay Valley Academy is that she made sure she knew everyone’s name.

“We had 500 students and I could greet all students and their parents. It’s important to form connections and help them feel a part of the family. I see that being an important skill here at HORIZONS, too.”

In some ways, planning a large gala is not unlike planning a recital for 500 dancers, Jennifer said. “With recitals, you are telling a story with a cohesive message. So I would select costumes and music to correspond with a theme, and make sure we had cohesive choreography. My first event here was the Ascension St. Mary’s Cornette Ball, which was truly spectacular. I was a greeter and it was impressive watching everyone on our team – it really was a production with so many moving parts. It’s wonderful to see the guests enjoying themselves but also to see how hard everyone here works behind the scenes to make guests comfortable and happy.”

When asked what the Art of Hospitality means to her, Jennifer said, “For me right now, the Art of Hospitality means making sure I’m paying attention to the details and communicating those details clearly to the team so they can help guests feel welcomed, at home and enjoying the experience they are having here at HORIZONS.”

Jennifer still loves theater and continues to perform in local community productions when she can. 

You may have seen her in the role of Fantine in Les Misérables in the Bay City Players production in 2013 and heard her lovely voice narrating Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Midland Center for the Arts in the early 2000s.

If you call or stop in our office on just about any weekday, you can talk to Jennifer yourself – inquire about her next performance and, while you’re at it, ask her to help plan your next event!

Start planning now