We had the good fortune of connecting with Julie C. Kent and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julie, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I definitely need more consistency with balancing work and life. I will say that working from home during COVID while my husband and kids did the same has taught me the value in slowing down a bit. Now that I’m back in the office more, I continue to make my kids breakfast and take a little time for myself instead of rushing off to work. I’m also fortunate in that the culture of our organization promotes a work-life balance.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As Director of Creative Placemaking, I have the pleasure of working with a variety of artists, property owners, merchants, city staff as well as ASU faculty and staff. My work involves public art, small activations/events as well as large scale events. My previous work, being a small business owner and buyer, while seemingly unrelated to my current work actually did prepare me in some ways for my current role. As a buyer I learned the importance of relationship building and maintaining those relationships. As a boutique owner, in downtown Tempe where I currently work., I learned the struggles and needs of being a small merchant. I also began working with local artists. I believe that no mater how varied your career is, there are elements that you can carry on to new ventures.
My biggest challenge thus far came when I was a small business owner. The ‘uncontrollables’ as I call them were the toughest things to deal with. For example, when the street closed in front of my store for almost a year I had to determine how to get customers returning to my store when access was difficult.
Before working for Downtown Tempe Authority, which is a Business Improvement District (BID), I had no idea that such an industry existed. We play a vital role in a city’s economy since most of a municipalities tax base reside in downtowns. My hope is for people to understand how important small businesses are for a community to thrive.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a friend came to visit, I would have them come in the spring when we have the best weather. I would take them to the Tempe Festival of Arts, see a Broadway show at Gammage, possibly see a Spring Training game and also do some outdoor activities like paddle boarding in Tempe Town Lake and hiking South Mountain. For a nice dinner we would go to House of Tricks, grab a craft cocktail at Cafe Boa, listen to live music at Yucca Tap Room and enjoy rooftop views at Alter Ego bar at the Canopy Hotel.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband is a great support in that he often has more confidence in
me myself than I do! As I work on a lot of events each year, my kids volunteer which is a great help. The non profit organization that I work for, Downtown Tempe Authority (DTA), is also very supportive. It is an inclusive environment and we are encouraged to have a work-life balance.