John F. Kern, Director of Creative Programming & Innovation
John Kern, a Michigan native, couldn’t help but be intrigued when Chris Moore first told him about the idea to bring Vicksburg’s old paper mill back to life. Despite his Michigan roots, Kern still hadn’t known much about the village of Vicksburg or its paper mill, but when he visited in Summer 2015, he knew immediately that he wanted to be a part of this project and help bring Chris Moore’s vision to life.
In September 2015, Kern and his wife Jackie Koney permanently moved to Vicksburg to be fully immersed in this project and, most importantly, in the community. With an extensive background across several disciplines—primarily education but also audio and video production, marketing promotions, and public speaking—Kern is the perfect fit to directly engage with the people of Vicksburg and its surrounding communities and generate excitement about restoring The Mill.
“Vicksburg is an all-around great place—to live and to visit—and I believe that The Mill will create a space for younger generations to get excited about and want to invest their time,” Kern said. “Restoring The Mill, which has been such a vital part of the community for decades, and reviving it into something new will make Vicksburg a more sought-out place for experiential learning, and could even be used as a model for small towns. A lot of great things will come of this project, and I’m glad to be a part of it by spreading the word to our community and beyond.”
In addition to his work with The Mill, Kern is heavily involved in other community organizations and resources that the town of Vicksburg has to offer. He serves on the board for the Vicksburg Farmer’s Market, has some of his personal photography work featured at the Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, and also runs the artist residency program at The Mill: The Prairie Ronde Artist Residency. He also has much experience in public speaking engagements within and outside of Vicksburg.
After graduating from Michigan State University in 1988, Kern continued his education, earning supplemental degrees from Augsburg College in Minneapolis and from the University of Washington in Seattle. He spent several years working as a teacher through QSI Virtual Learning Services and as a freelance digital marketing blog writer, both of which taught him skills that he can dedicate to his work for The Mill at Vicksburg.