By Tim Priebe
March 28, 2023

Young Professional Q&A: Savannah Whitehead

A Texas native, Savannah Whitehead now fosters art creation and consumption throughout Edmond.
Savannah Whitehead is the program director for Edmond Fine Arts Institute and a proud OSU alumna. (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

A passionate artist, Savannah Whitehead currently serves as program director for the Edmond Fine Arts Institute. Her focus to promote art within the community is at the center of her professional goals.

Q: Do you live in Edmond, work in Edmond, or both?

A: I work right in the heart of Edmond at Edmond Fine Arts Institute. We’re located on Edwards Street in the north part of downtown Edmond. It’s a joy to work in downtown Edmond and be so connected to the community. I joined the team at the Fine Arts Institute in February 2020. I have loved every minute of it! My husband, Tyler, and I live in that gray area northwest of Edmond. We’ve lived in the metro area since graduating college in 2016.

Q: Where did you grow up and go to school?

A: I was born and raised in Abilene, Texas, and attended Wylie High School. I like to say Abilene is the last bit of green before you really get into West Texas. In 2012, I headed to Stillwater to attend Oklahoma State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in art history in 2016. Attending OSU was an amazing experience. I met my best friends and husband there and will forever feel tied to Stillwater. Go Pokes!

Q: What did you do prior to your time at the Edmond Arts Institute?

A: Previously, I worked for the Edmond Chamber of Commerce as the events coordinator. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and experiences at the Chamber. It was an excellent job and allowed me to connect and integrate into the Edmond community. I feel fortunate that Sherry Jordan and Ken Moore took a chance to hire a recent grad with an art degree. During my time there, I took on additional roles and responsibilities, eventually being promoted to vice president before departing for Edmond Fine Arts in early 2020. Prior to my professional career, I had a plethora of jobs, as many young people do, including cheer and gymnastics coach, house cleaner, waitress and bartender, and gallery assistant at OSU in the Gardiner Art Gallery.

Q: How did you get involved with the Edmond Fine Arts Institute?

A: I initially became involved with Edmond Fine Arts as a board member while working at the Edmond Chamber. It was a great way to get to know the organization, its mission, and the faculty members. I especially enjoyed getting to know the executive director, Shannon Price; I was very impressed with her leadership of the organization and in the Edmond community. After attending an Edmond Young Professionals Leadership Latte event in 2018, I was inspired by the speaker. He shared his story about telling another professional in a different industry that he “wanted to be him one day.” I took that to heart and shared with Shannon over coffee that someday I wanted to be her and have her job. At the time, I thought this wouldn’t be in the realm of possibilities for many, many years. But at the end of 2019, over a nice glass of pinot grigio, Shannon slid over a job proposal to me, offering me my “dream job” at Edmond Fine Arts, and the rest was history! I cannot believe I get to work with artists every day, provide creativity to our community, and inspire future generations to pursue the arts. It truly is a dream!

Q: What do you like most about your job?

Savannah Whitehead has a passion for art. Outside of her role at Edmond Fine Arts Institute, she’s a local artist. (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

A: One of my favorite job responsibilities includes VIBES Edmond’s First Thursdays. I love integrating visual and performing arts with the downtown businesses to provide a positive economic impact for all. Another very high role on my list is managing the gallery spaces at the Fine Arts Institute. Did you know we have four different galleries? I love working with the artists, installing the shows (I use this super fun math formula), and promoting their work. Seeing a beautiful art show all installed brings me immense joy. Then, of course, there are all the great people! At the art institute, we employ more than 40 teachers and have thousands of children and adults who take classes inside and outside our building. Seeing the students express themselves and find their artistic voice is a fantastic privilege.

Q: What’s something you’re passionate about in your personal life?

A:  I’m so lucky because what I am passionate about in my personal life is also what I get to pursue in my professional life. Outside of promoting the arts and creativity for Edmond Fine Arts, I’m also a working artist. I create custom-painted bottles, murals, and more art with my business, “Art by Savannah Whitehead.” I also teach fitness classes at Pure Barre Edmond, where I have been an instructor for three and a half years. I love getting together with my girlfriends from college, attending red dirt country concerts, trying new and local restaurants, doing anything my two dogs are welcome to, and cheering on the OSU Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Q: What’s an accomplishment you’re the proudest of?

A:  The first would be winning the ULI Impact Award for Outstanding Community Building Initiative for VIBES in 2021. That award did so much to signify Edmond Fine Arts Institute’s work to make the arts more accessible to our community. Personally, I am very proud of getting to paint a mural as a part of the 2022 Sunny Dayz Mural Festival. Check out “These Boots Are Made For…” on the trash receptacle behind Edmond Fine Arts. Being a part of the festival and calling myself an artist among so many talented artists was an amazing and confirming experience. Finally would be getting to be a judge for Oklahoma State University’s Homecoming in 2022. As an alumna that was a homecoming committee director in college, I know how much work these students put into their house decorations, and it was such a joy to get to be a part of the celebration, but on the other side, this time.

Q: What are some of the big goals you’d like to accomplish in your career?

A: When it comes to considering future goals or accomplishments, mine are pretty simple. I want to continue to advocate for the arts and the Edmond community for the entirety of my career, and I hope to leave a positive impact in all aspects of my life.

Q: What do you like about Edmond?

A: I love the small-town feel Edmond has despite it being a city of 100,000+. It’s a wonderful community of people who truly care about bettering it for the future, keeping the arts at the forefront of city decisions, and wanting to know their neighbors and the people and businesses they choose to support. The 300+ pieces of public art are also a favorite aspect of the city, and the fact the Edmond Fine Arts is in Edmond!

Q: What is your number one tip for other young professionals, either for work or life in general?

A: It boils down to doing your best to do the right thing. I’m also a big believer in a nice Matthew McConaughey quote, “I have a lot of proof that the world is conspiring to make me happy.” When you project joy, love, and happiness out, you tend to receive it back.

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About Tim Priebe

Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of T&S Online Marketing. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.

Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.