As president and CEO of JDC Events, Jennifer Collins believes bringing people together is one of the greatest ways to advance as a society. In tune with what it takes to be successful, she and her team position clients—corporate, nonprofit and association groups—to create impactful events that get results. Connect recently caught up with the Washington, D.C.-based Collins to chat about her new book, “Events Spark Change: A Guide to Designing Powerful and Engaging Events,” and building strategic events with the power to change the world.
What type of professional would benefit the most from reading “Events Spark Change?”
This book is for anyone who has very limited or no experience in building events and may find themselves in that role, whether in their job or in a volunteer capacity. The book teaches you to think through the purpose behind designing an event from the standpoint of the people attending. You learn that it’s not about you—which is important for event professionals to embrace and understand.
How did you first get involved in event planning?
I started out planning family reunions in college. We hosted them in locations where we either had family or locations that we wanted to travel to near family, such as Connecticut, Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, Savannah, Williamsburg, Washington, D.C., and Cincinnati. What I loved about the family reunions was the end of it—not because the planning was over, but because of how it made everyone feel. That was the rush for me: Seeing how that event and overall experience was so memorable and something they would carry with them until the next time we met. It was then that I started to understand and appreciate their purpose and power.
Looking back on your time as the only JDC employee, what were some of your successes and struggles?
My struggles were many, mainly lack of financial resources and time. I was still working full-time when I started the business, and did so for four years. I really didn’t have the ability to do that much because of my day job. So, that time was very limiting. But my overall successes were in networking enough to gain traction and interest of our services, which eventually led to my first client that catapulted me to leave my full-time and work the business full-time.