Cherry to retire from Suffolk Center

Published 10:41 pm Monday, April 30, 2018

After 12 years with the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, Executive Director Jackie Cherry has announced she will retire on June 30.

“I was motivated a couple years ago to do it, but every time I got ready to retire, something would come up,” Cherry said. “I thought it was much more important to follow through and reach another goal.”

Eventually, Cherry realized there would always be more goals to meet and decided she needed to retire while she still had a chance to enjoy it.


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Cherry joined the Suffolk Center in 2006 as the director of corporate sponsorships and special events. Her career progressed quickly, and she has been the executive director since 2011.

“Under her leadership, the Center has become the focal point of arts and entertainment for the City of Suffolk and Western Tidewater,” Board of Directors President McLemore Birdsong Jr. stated in a press release.

Becoming an integral part of the Suffolk Center happened by accident for Cherry. After 20 years in the telecom industry, Cherry spent most of her time traveling for work. Her job took her from her home in Chuckatuck to New York and New Jersey. Cherry mostly saw Suffolk on the weekends.

“My goal when I got ready to leave was to not get on a plane or train and get involved in the community,” Cherry said. “The job seemed crazy, but there were no planes or trains and I got back into the community. This was a career path I didn’t plan to take, and my goals was to stay only one year.”

Now, after 12 years, the Suffolk Center will always be a part of her life.

“It’ll be nice to sit in the seat and watch it happen,” Cherry said. “Some of our board members still go and see the events. You will see them there supporting and seeing the value of it.”

Cherry will miss the Suffolk Center dearly, and she will miss the little aspects of the job.

“It’s the people and the new faces you see every day,” Cherry said. “We do different programs, and the same ladies come week after week to a yoga or pottery class. I’ll miss the relationships that we build.”

She hopes to leave a legacy of strong ethics and passion for the job they do.

Cherry wants the next in line for executive director to listen to those in the community.

“Listen to the community and see what they want and desire,” Cherry said. “Support the education and effort we put forth, and do the best you can. You work for the community.”

Cherry will be retiring to her home in Chuckatuck with her chickens, goats and her loving dog.