From Across the Pond

From Across the Pond

Jo Ormesher brings the arts to Fairfax.

Jo Ormesher’s love for theater and art play an important role in her work as City of Fairfax marketing manager: tourism and marketing, she says, cannot exist without art. Welsh by birth, Ormesher used this philosophy marketing towns in England such as Basingstoke and Petersfield before coming to the U.S. She now lives in Clifton with husband Ian and son Mark. Recently, Ormesher sat down for an interview about herself.

How long have you lived in the community? We’ve lived here six years, the three of us. I’ve still got a daughter back in England and she works for Deloitte and Touche. She’s in her 20s and she’s an accountant. My son in 18, he’s in the U.S. He’s fun. I’ve always worked in the theater, and I’ve got photos of him sitting on the stage when he was 3 years old. I think because of that that’s why he likes theater. And, being in Robinson High School, they’ve got a terrific theater department.

What brought you here? My husband’s job. He worked for cable wireless. I had to think carefully because I had my own company. What did I want to do? But there’s always a reason for an opportunity. And if you don’t grab that opportunity, you miss something. We thought it was only going to be a short while, and it’s six years down the line. I love being here, I really do … I feel the city has encouraged and supported me in this.

Education: I went to University of Wales. I went to University of North London, I don’t know what they call it now. We’ve recently changed all our university names. It was the old-fashioned polytechnic, a bit like Virginia Tech. I worked for BP and they put me through university. That was the first time around, the second time [University of Wales] I just went because I wanted to. And that was great, I did philosophy and politics.

Job history: I worked for a brewery. I was the first woman that Whitbread ever took on in a sales capacity. I was the first lady ever taken on in the brewing industry in the sales capacity because it had been a male stronghold up until then, and when I sent in my application I signed it, “Jo,” and they thought Jo was a man. And I got into the interview, and you know me — I talked my way into it … then I stopped because I had my son. And then the town where I lived [Petersfield] had gone through some issues of redevelopment, road changes and all sorts of issues. The Chamber of Trade came to me and said: “We understand you have a marketing background, can you help us market the town?”

Activities/interests/hobbies: Kayaking, cycling. Time with friends and family. Theater, music. Walking, I like walking up in the Blue Ridge. And I love the beach.

Favorite restaurant or place in the community: It depends on what place in the world you want to eat in today. You can do a world tour of our restaurants in the city.

What are your community concerns? Traffic in the county. I think the county is expanding so rapidly that I think traffic is amazing. Every family has a car apiece. Coming from the U.K., we have ways of getting around that do not rely on a car. In the city we’ve got CUE bus and it’s wonderful.

What is the last book you read or the last movie you watched? I just finished Fall for the Book so I have got a stack of books. Kim Edwards and Deborah Tannen, her book, “You’re Wearing That?” It’s a book of mothers and daughters’ conversations. It’s brilliant. [Tannen] signed it, and I’m going to give it to my daughter.

What did you want to be when you “grew up?” I don’t think I ever had a thought of what I wanted to do when I grew up. I knew I didn’t want to be a nurse like my mother. By the time I got to college I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher. I think I’m still trying to grow up.

Are there any community “hidden treasures” you think more people should know about? It’s got to be the city parks and trails … I don’t know if half the city knows what we’ve got. Also, Theatre of the First Amendment. It’s not hidden, but it’s a treasure we don’t pay enough attention to.

If you could go on a road trip right now, where would you go? There’s only one thing to do if you’ve never done it, and it must be on everyone’s list, is drive cross-country … there’s so many quirky things in America, like the largest ball of rubber bands. Sea to shining sea.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Happy, healthy and enjoying life in the area.

Personal goals: I want to treat others as I would like to be treated. I want to put a smile on somebody’s face every day. There’s so much unhappiness in the world and I just want to make somebody smile. Now if I’ve got to act like a clown to do it, I’ll do that.

— Lea Mae Rice