Linda Crissey Retires After 30 Years

After more than 30 years of serving her community through the beauty and power of the arts, Linda Crissey is retiring.  Working with fellow dedicated Clayton County citizens over the years, Linda has accomplished significant successes throughout her lifetime.  Establishing her spot as Executive Director for Arts Clayton is only one of many admirable efforts. 

Born and raised in Jonesboro, Linda attended Clayton County Public Schools.   As the oldest child in her family, she was placed as head of the family after losing her mother at the age of 18.  After becoming the glue of the family through her mother’s tragic passing, she attributes her strength and determination to this life changing occurrence. 

Linda is a trailblazer in her Clayton County communities with a passion to aim only for positive changes with positive outcomes.  Through many outlets, she has flooded both Georgia and other local cities with unmatched service.  Like her daddy Jim Byrom, she has always been a steadfast supporter in important aspects of her community.  Daddy was a “pace-setter” she explains.  And, he never expected anybody to do anything that he didn’t work as hard or harder than they did.   Neither, do I. 

 Not only does she acknowledge the value of hard work, but she is also a moral superstar. She outwardly expresses her appreciation for Clayton’s diversity as well as its wide range of artistic ability.  Since being introduced to the value of fine arts and how it is interwoven into all facets of life, she has taken the opportunity to provide businesses, organizations, and individuals with the benefits of investing in our Clayton County students by making available additional arts educational opportunities.

Before her time at Arts Clayton, Linda committed herself to reaching her full potential.  She jumpstarted her attitude for positive change alongside her daddy.  To support her dad in his quest toward affording the property taxes for his farm, both of them were influential in their political action group, Citizens Against Paying Increased Taxes better known as CAPIT.  Her dedication brought hundreds of fellow Georgia farmers together, combining forces to bring forth a drastic change in agricultural tax calculations across the State.  After recognizing the impact this action had on government, she had found a successful path toward sparking change in her community.

Linda has played an essential role in politics from national, state and local by supporting diverse politicians in their political journeys.  Her notable community involvement led her to serve as the Membership Director for Clayton County Chamber of Commerce, which supplied her with immeasurable knowledge and countless opportunities to serve.  She also ran for Georgia State House of Representatives in 1990.  Although she met defeat, she realized the impact she could make on local communities.  She has since served and continues to serve on various committees both local and statewide. 

As a politician and businesswoman she has succeeded in achieving considerable results in both governmental practices and the fine arts.  In 2014, she graciously accepted the Chamber Businesswoman of the Year Award.  She was appointed to the Georgia Council for the Arts under 3 governors: serving a total of 14 years earning the Greater Atlanta Managing for Excellence Award.  While she does not consider herself an artist, her recognition for the value art has on society is inspirational.  Linda explained that art is “interwoven in our very fabric,” commenting on the idea that beauty is in everything, and art is “unity…it’s what makes us whole.”

Arts Clayton was founded in 1986 by local business leaders searching for additional opportunities to support arts education in our schools for purpose of enabling creativity and encouraging students to prosper in the artistic community.

Linda credits her 20 year legal experience to her moral super power, “Working at the law firm is  where I was firmly planted in the value of telling the truth and the consequences of lying.  Not only is it not moral, but truth and lying make or break a legal case.”  After the law firm, she accepted a position as Manager for Woodlake Beach and Tennis Club, building her network alongside her newfound career.  She connected with Arts Clayton and was soon putting her skills to use by participating in the fundraising committee. She explains that her first successful event with the organization was a dinner train experience “Ride the Rails with Arts Clayton” from Jonesboro to the Georgia Depot at Underground.  The event was designed to offer a fun community experience while raising much needed funds. The train experience had a successful 3 year run. 

Her ability to develop and expand meaningful partnerships has been a valuable asset to Arts Clayton throughout the years, providing the organization with a diverse gathering opportunity in all aspects.  Her networking and social skills have equipped Arts Clayton to connect with a variety of people, empowering the organization to raise the bar on community fun and discover culture while adding funds to the budget.   She describes Arts Clayton as a “relationship” organization and without those bonds, would not be as successful.  With a variety of fun activities and quality events, Arts Clayton continues its mission to “serve” and provide quality arts education for adults and students.

From front center to upper left; Burt Reynolds, Elizabeth Grower, Courtney Hurst, Whitney Harris, and Linda Crissey

Up until Linda was brought on full-time with Arts Clayton, she was a volunteer continuing to work with the fundraising committee on planning and executing signature events such as “Beaux Arts BBQ Beach Party” held for 13 years at Clayton County International Park,  Arte’ Gras” black tie event for 13 years having to cancel due to COVID in 2020 and the 17 year “Alan Vigil Ford Lincoln Golf Tournament”.  All proceeds from these events were annually designated by the Board of Directors for the arts education budget, making it possible to share the power of the arts with thousands of Clayton County students.

Throughout her years of service, Linda has consistently delivered quality and kept her word.  Her efforts have ensured that Arts Clayton always remain a respectable and honorable organization serving the greater good of her community. “The only goal we have ever had in over 30 plus years is to serve our citizens with quality and grace.” She states that “the leadership and support given by the Board of Directors and excellent staff over the years is key to the successes we have achieved and enjoyed; all had a profound commitment to excellence in service and to serve all without political influences”.

While Arts Clayton was becoming established as an arts education provider in the community, more and more visual artists and Art Guilds began reaching out requesting support and assistance for their art shows, i.e. for location, purchase awards, judging, meeting space, sponsorships, etc.  In 2002 the first gallery was established with the direct help of Sen. Terrell Star and Rep. Bill Lee.   It was a big success and created a lot of good vibes with artist receptions, talks, classes, etc.  The gallery quickly outgrew its space and moved to current location in 2006.  This location launched into being the tourist destination spotlight and for many years, was recognized by State agencies as a must see when visiting Clayton County and Jonesboro.  With the arrival of our 4 beautiful historical murals the publicity and traffic increased.  Murals tell a story of Jonesboro in the 40’s and 50’s.  It was a collective collaborative project with Congressman David Scott,  County Commission, City of Jonesboro, and the Arts Clayton Board of Directors.  Over 200 Georgia artists are members of our family of artists. Linda also served on the Clayton County Tourism Board for 22 years, 15 of those years as Chairman of the board.

Linda married Jim Crissey five years ago, retired CEO of Southern Regional Medical center.  Jim is also a strong and dedicated member of his community, having served alongside his wife over the years on many committees and boards.

As she enters retirement, a large portion of her time will be dedicated to her family.  She has two daughters and four grandchildren which includes an adopted 8-year-old granddaughter who she can’t wait to spend more time with.

Further Linda will be continuing to serve on various boards and assist with several fundraisers after retiring.  In like manner, her first priority, is to more involved in her church, First Baptist Jonesboro, which has been her home church since she was seven.

During the entirety of her service with Arts Clayton, Linda has strived for excellence and integrity.  She hopes that her hand in her beloved organization has ultimately, “set the stage and the foundation for the value of the arts in serving everyone and is perpetuated in our community with admiration, excitement, respect, dignity and just doing the right thing”.  While it will be a transition for everyone, rest assured, Linda’s retirement will not take her from Clayton.  

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