By Southwester Staff

 Sunny Sumter; Courtesy of 

The DC Jazz Festival® (DCJF) organization announced in June that Sunny Sumter has been promoted to the new leadership role of President and Chief Executive Officer. The DC Jazz Festival is an annual event that typically includes multiple performances in Southwest.

“We are proud to elevate Sunny to this expanded leadership role for her outstanding work on behalf of the DC Jazz Festival,” said Conrad D. Kenley, Chairman of the DCJF Board of Directors. “She earned this very deserving promotion through her exceptional strategic guidance, management skills, and devotion and commitment to promoting jazz in our city and beyond.”

In this elevated role, Sumter will oversee the expansion of the annual DC JazzFest, one of the largest annual events of DC’s cultural calendar; direct its year-round educational and community engagement programming; and guide the organization’s new strategies and goals.

Sumter, a professional jazz vocalist and seasoned arts executive, joined the organization in 2008 and has served as its executive director since 2010, overseeing DCJF’s signature programs, including the annual DC JazzFest, the year-round DCJF Education Program, and the Charles Fishman Embassy Series. 

Last year during the COVID-19 pandemic that sidelined so many events across the globe, Sumter led her team in producing an all-virtual festival that attracted a record-breaking 200,000 music fans from around the world, including Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Panama and the UK.

“It’s truly a labor of love to work in my hometown to expand the rich, culturally important and impactful artform that is jazz,” said Sumter, a Washington, DC native who attended the District’s renowned Duke Ellington School of the Arts and earned her bachelor’s degree in music business with a jazz voice minor from Howard University. “I look forward to continuing to grow the annual DC JazzFest, one of the District’s cultural destinations, while finding more ways to introduce fans, young and old, to jazz.”

Prior to her tenure at the DC Jazz Festival, Sumter held management/director positions with the Aspen Institute, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. She is the recipient of a Howard University Benny Golson Award, Sitar Arts Center Visionary Award, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowship, and Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award. Sumter is currently a fellow with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management and serves on the boards of the HBCU-Jazz Education Initiative and the International Association of Jazz Arrangers and Composers.  

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