6 Questions With...

Amber Jackson, executive director, Auburn Cord Duesenberg Festival, Inc.
May 7, 2018
Deborah C. Gerbers
Steve Vorderman
6 Questions With...

Q1: Could you explain your current position with the ACD Festival, and how your career path led you to where you are?
I never envisioned myself doing what I do, but I truly believe I have fallen into something quite magnificent. Life has a funny way of presenting the right opportunities at the right time. I have a degree in elementary education, and I thought I would be a teacher forever. But after having kids of my own, I realized there is so much energy in a single day for the mom side of you, for the teacher side and where your energies are best used. For a while I worked for WMEE and increased my digital marketing training and networking, and then later moved on to work for Peter Franklin Jewelers. But, I still struggled to find a good work life/mom life balance and eventually came to work as executive director for the ACD. It is really a complete package and great balance for me and my family. I have fallen into the perfect position all around. I’m pretty sure I have more fun than a person should while at work!

Q2: What are some of your greatest job challenges, and how do you overcome them?
The most challenging part of my job is actually one of my strengths – being versatile. In one day I might need to go from wearing a dress and high heels meeting with business owners and gaining sponsorships, to changing into jeans and a t-shirt for office filing and organizing merchandise, all the way to helping our team clear off the streets when the festival comes around. I’m the only one in a staff position, so I wear lots of different hats – but our board and the community are supportive of me. Some of the hats I wear can be cumbersome, but I tend to bounce around anyway so it helps me do my job.

Q3: Who are your greatest role models, and how have they impacted you?
Obviously, my mom (Teresa Harmeyer). For all the teenage years that I vowed to not be like her, I am very much like her and am pleased with that as an adult. She has such tenacity and strength, as she was a single mother. She has just been amazing, as is my family. It’s hard to find a good support system, but in our family, support always comes first. We don’t offer advice unless it is asked for. We all try to be available in various supportive capacities. My husband is a true testament to this. In addition to that, this town is full of amazing business-savvy mothers perfecting their own balance. To be a part of that inspires me every day! 

Q4: What does success mean to you, and how is it achieved? 
It’s funny, working in a ‘first-world market’ that is high-dollar, high-demographic like jewelry and classic cars, money has never been a motivator for me. I never make a decision based on money as first priority; it must be about principle, what’s right and what makes sense. Growing up with a mentality of valuing principle over the dollar is something I think is easily forgotten. While we deal with multimillion dollar companies and those important sponsorships, it’s still more about the idea and customizing what’s best for them and the community. With an event of this magnitude like the ACD Festival, it needs to make sense for everyone involved. On a personal level, I feel everyone is trying to figure out happiness, and I truly believe happiness is based upon understanding expectations. When expectations are misaligned, we become dissatisfied. It is so important to be cognizant of our expectations. For me success is making all the moving parts work, and being content in that.

Q5: What are some characteristics you want your children to have, and how do you see yourself as a role model? 
I think the greatest thing I can give my daughters is perspective – a true, balanced perspective on the world. That means having honest conversations with them and allowing them to think through their own situations. It also means being slow to give advice and quick to listen. The more ownership we can give our kids over any given situation so the answers are theirs and not ours, the more they will grow from those experiences. I also teach a bully prevention class once a week at Spiece Fitness where I focus on practical martial arts technique and how we can incorporate those skills into an empowering tool that is educationally effective in practical, real-life situations for kids based on their level of need.

Q6: What are you working on now for the upcoming 2018 ACD festival?
The ACD Festival is going on its 62nd year over Labor Day weekend! We have lots of exciting things coming up this year. Friday night’s ‘700 Car Cruise In,’ is always very popular. Saturday night will also be amazing because we will be featuring Addison Agen on the stage for free, along with an expanded Fast & Fabulous car display. Our intention each year is to pay homage to the tradition of the festival and grow only about 10 percent to bring in unique ideas, wider demographics and a new energy. Our relationships with our sponsors, our community and the experts at the ACD Museum and the ACD Club are essential to help things all come together that make each ACD Festival a success! 

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