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Sep 27

Introducing the new Culture Division and Superintendent Susan Mong

Posted on September 27, 2018 at 4:56 PM by Becky Burnside

Susan Mong became the first-ever superintendent of JCPRD’s new Culture Division effective Sept. 24.

The new division encompasses the Johnson County Museum, both the indoor and outdoor aspects of The Theatre in the Park, the Fine and Performing Arts Department, and some facility rentals. It is based primarily at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center which opened in June 2017 at 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park. 

“JCPRD has grown drastically in the past few years, and the next few years look to be the same,” explained JCPRD Executive Director Jill Geller. “It’s not efficient nor effective to keep piling more and more on our existing divisions, so it was time to take a close look at our organizational structure.  After nearly 50 years of JCPRD offering a wide range of fine arts programs, 40 years of our amazing The Theatre in the Park, and upon welcoming the Johnson County Museum into our agency nearly three years ago, a division dedicated to culture was definitely warranted.”

Mong, who was selected for the new superintendent’s position, has been with JCPRD as finance analyst since May 2017. 

“I was interested in this position because of the opportunity to build something new that can benefit our community in so many positive ways,” she said. “I feel strongly that communities with strong arts and cultural offerings are healthier and more vibrant communities.  Arts and culture are a major economic driver and the opportunities to work with creative thought leaders and forge partnerships is an exciting opportunity.  My heart beats for public service and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to serve our community in this role.” 

Prior to coming to JCPRD, Mong worked for ten years for the Johnson County Library, where she served as executive director of the Johnson County Library Foundation from February 2013 to May 2017, and as volunteer services coordinator from October 2007 to February 2013.  Earlier, she worked for about three years as a volunteer coordinator for Reach Out & Read Kansas City, and for about six years as a senior coordinator at the University of Kansas Medical Center.  Mong holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration, and a master’s degree in public administration, both from KU. 

Mong and her husband of 22 years, Grant, live in Overland Park and are the parents of three children: Molly (20), Mallory (18), and Dillon (14). 

Her goals for the new Culture Division include: becoming  a leader in cultural offerings and experiences in the Kansas City Metropolitan area; reflecting the needs of the community in our plans for growth; to more intentionally collaborate and coordinate with other art and cultural organizations; and to tell the agency’s story well, increase visibility, and inspire private support.   

“The biggest opportunity to growing this division is the fixed resources in the midst of a changing community,” she said. “We need to be mindful to reflect the ethnic diversity in our community.  We also need to ensure events and programs remain affordable in the midst of increased poverty, which is highest among young families.  Philanthropic support will be important to help us achieve our vision and continue to increase access and inspire new ways to offer arts and cultural experiences.” 

Geller added that while JCPRD’s Fine & Performing Arts Department, The Theatre in the Park, and Johnson County Museum are already hugely successful, there is room to expand, and it is her hope that the new division and its new superintendent will help these areas provide new energy, new ideas, and greater support to accomplish even more. 

“I hope everyone will agree that the creation of a Culture Division speaks volumes to JCPRD’s present and future commitment to the arts and to our community’s rich history,” she said. “Just as the public currently thinks of JCPRD when they think of parks, trails, and recreation programs, it won’t be long until they immediately think of JCPRD when they think of the arts, history, or culture.”