The DC Jazz Festival® [DCJF] recently announced the promotion of Sunny Sumter to the role of president and chief executive officer for the highly-acclaimed nonprofit organization that celebrates America’s unique art form – jazz – through year-round programs and performances.

Featured artists showcased by DCJF represent the Greater Washington Area, other parts of the U.S. and nations from around the globe.

“We are proud to elevate Sunny to this expanded leadership role for her outstanding work on behalf of the DC Jazz Festival,” said Conrad D. Kenley, chairman of the DCJF Board of Directors. “She earned this very deserving promotion through her exceptional strategic guidance, management skills and devotion and commitment to promoting jazz in our city and beyond.”

In this elevated role, Sumter will oversee the expansion of the annual DC JazzFest, one of the largest annual events of DC’s cultural calendar, direct its year-round educational and community engagement programming and guide the organization’s new strategies and goals.

Sumter, a professional jazz vocalist and seasoned arts executive, joined the organization in 2008 and has served as its executive director since 2010, overseeing DCJF’s signature programs including the annual DC JazzFest, the year-round DCJF Education Program and the Charles Fishman Embassy Series.

Last year during the COVID-19 pandemic that sidelined so many events across the globe, Sumter led her talented team in producing a highly successful, all-virtual festival that attracted a record-breaking 200,000 music fans from countries that included Brazil, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Panama and the UK.

According to Pollstar’s weekly Live Stream chart, the 2020 DC JazzFest reached the third-highest number of viewers of any live-streamed event in the world during the last week of September 2020.

“It’s truly a labor of love to work in my hometown to expand the rich, culturally important and impactful art form that is jazz,” said, Sumter, a D.C. native who attended the District’s renowned Duke Ellington School of the Arts and earned her bachelor’s degree in music business with a jazz voice minor from Howard University.

“I look forward to continuing to grow the annual DC JazzFest, one of the District’s cultural destinations, while finding more ways to introduce fans, young and old, to jazz,” she said.

Prior to her tenure at the DC Jazz Festival, Sumter held management/director positions with the Aspen Institute, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Smithsonian Institution and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

The recipient of honors which include the Howard University Benny Golson Award and a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowship, she’s also a current fellow with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management and serves on several boards.  

For more about the DC Jazz Festival and its programs, visit

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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