Society / Profiles

How Polyphonic Spree Singer Jenny Kirtland Helps Stoke the Potential of Dallas’ Youth

The Musician Discusses the Digital Shift at the Revolutionary Booker T. Washington High School

BY // 08.24.20
photography Ana Hop

In its fourth year, NorthPark Center’s Ambassador program boldly merges the worlds of fashion, art and philanthropy. The Ambassadors ― a masterful idea brought to life by Nancy A. Nasher and Kimberly Schlegel Whitman ― shines the spotlight on Dallas’ top influencers and the nonprofits they support.

Hand-selected for their philanthropic contributions, each year-long ambassadorship offers the opportunity to partner with NorthPark Center and its retailers for various events and initiatives to benefit their respective charitable organization. This year’s Ambassadors possess and unswerving commitment to the community, and are unshakably tethered to fashion, art and stylish philanthropy.

Today, we catch up with Jenny Kirtland. She’s a musician, investment manager, and an entrepreneur all rolled into one. Kirtland throws her support behind Booker T. Washington High School for Performing and Visual Arts. Dallas’ revolutionary high school for 21-century scholar artists, Booker T. Washington provides intensive, integrated training to build a bridge for students heading into the post-secondary and professional world.

Why are you passionate about this charitable organization?
Jenny Kirtland: Booker T. is the school my daughter graduated from last year, so I’m not only a supporter, I have been involved as a parent as well. Before she had thoughts of going there, I was a big fan. The school nurtures creative young people’s talents, and gives them opportunities to take those talents into the world.

With social distancing, how are you staying engaged with your friends and community? 
I’ve spent a lot of time with family, which has been wonderful, especially since my daughter just left for college. I’ve gotten together with friends, but more carefully, and in smaller environments.

NorthPark is at the center of both fashion and art. Describe your own fashion and art interests:
I love both fashion and art! My fashion style is definitely high/low. I love to pair a vintage top with a beautiful pair of Italian pants, or anything not too “matchy” and with some playfulness.

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I will forever be collecting art. I’m constantly blown away by talented artists, and I love to create pieces as well.

What little luxuries, hobbies or rituals are keeping you sane these days?
I spend time in the country, and take my dogs on long walks. My other hobbies include fishing, and stand-up paddle boarding at the lake. We cook and play board games together ― it’s the simple things that are both connecting and fulfilling. But, I also love getting my nails done! And, that feels like a true luxury now.

Describe an ideal day for Jenny Kirtland. 
Wake up when the sun comes up, do yoga outside, or on the lake on SUPs (stand up paddle boards) with my daughter. Then I’d take the dogs for a long walk, have a healthy breakfast, followed by reading, and fishing with my son. We’d grill steaks and veggies for dinner, and play a long competitive board game ― in which the girls are the winners!

What is your chosen charity doing in times of COVID19 to continue its mission and cause?
Booker T. Washington is shifting its programming to digital, and has a cool programmatic series in the works that has a student enrichment, faculty enrichment, and extended BTW family component.

Any creative fundraising or virtual fundraisers planned?
BTW will still offer scholarships, student and faculty enrichment opportunities, and lessons, focused on the removal of barriers for students. It may look different right now, but the need for funding the creative and educational mission is absolutely there.

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