By Nicole Mullet
In late June of 2015, I received a phone call from Gregg Mervis, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Akron/Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau, offering me the position of Executive Director of the yet to be named ArtsNow. I’m ashamed to say I do not recall many details of that conversation such was my excitement—other than an overwhelming need to avoid saying anything horribly stupid that would result in him hanging up on me.
What I do remember is that during that conversation, Gregg informed me that he would be serving as Board President for the start-up nonprofit focused on leveraging the arts and culture sector to advance Summit County. I remember a profound sense of peace with that knowledge. “Well,” I thought, “Gregg won’t allow me to totally bungle this.”
The past three years have brought some of the most thrilling, challenging, and transformational experiences of my professional life. I’ve had the opportunity to establish and grow an organization. I’ve been able to work with some of the most brilliant and creative minds our community, region, and nation have to offer. And at all points—through the highs and the lows—I have had a constant advocate and friend in Gregg.
He is at all times the consummate professional and charmingly fierce advocate for Summit County. But what you did not see, were the moments he thoughtfully challenged me to stretch beyond my comfort zone, advocated for me with community leaders, and reminded me to take a deep breath. Those moments are iconic Gregg.
Gregg is fond of saying he isn’t an artist. I am equally fond of reminding him that he is raising one and doing one hell of a job. Gracie’s impact on Akron and Summit County remains to be seen, but with parents like Gregg and Terrill, I’m confident we’re all in good hands.
Summit County is on a precipice of greatness when it comes to arts and culture. And every day I watch as friends and colleagues prepare themselves for that greatness through an awful lot of hard work. It bears mentioning at this three-year mark, that whatever comes next will have Gregg’s fingerprints on it. And, in true Gregg fashion, he determined that for the health of the organization it was time for new leadership. Because that is Gregg. Always focused on the big picture. I am thrilled to work with Howard Parr, a nonprofit leader with a track record of thoughtful impact and incredible success. And, Gregg, thank you so very deeply. Onward, we go.