Former executive director of Carver Community Center leaves legacy in arts community

Ms. Jo Harolyn “Jo” Long Williams, passed peacefully on Oct. 12 at the age of 71

SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio has lost a leader in the world of the arts. Ms. Jo Harolyn “Jo” Long Williams, musician, visionary leader, and community advocate, passed away peacefully on Oct. 12 at the age of 71.

Jo became the first executive director of the Carver Community Cultural Center in 1976, a position she remained in until 2000.

The Carver Community Cultural Center became globally recognized as a leading cultural institution trademarked by Jo’s visionary multicultural programming and uncompromising commitment to equitable access for all.

Many have spoken of her visionary and transformative role as an arts administrator as well as her support for the early work and careers of so many artists. Williams brought up a generation of cultural leaders while laying the framework for so many other cultural arts institutions to come into existence and thrive.

“A lot of people have talked about her as being a visionary. And that’s really an understatement. There’s not a lot of words we can use to accurately capture the impact that Jo had on the cultural landscape of not just San Antonio, but really on a national and even, to some extent, a global level,” said Cassandra Parker Nowick, executive director of the Carver Center.

Almost all have spoken of her fierce love and commitment to community, representation, inclusion and equity. In the world of the arts, Jo Long is indeed legendary. However, this is just one aspect of her identity. She was also beloved by her family, circle of friends and faith community.

Her life, legacy and loss are felt deeply by so many.

“She wanted to make sure that regardless of economic resources, whatever other barriers may exist. At the Carver was someplace where anybody could come and experience exemplary art and learn about different cultures from around the world.” Said nowicki

Prior to coming to the Carver, Jo began her career at Southern Methodist University as founding director of the Community Center for the Arts Association from 1972 to 1976. Her legacy of service continued after her tenure at the Carver as well aswhen she went on to serve as an administrator at the San Antonio College Christian Student Center.

A memorial service in celebration of her life will be held in the theatre named in her honor at the Carver Community Cultural Center located at 226 N. Hackberry St. on Oct 30. at 11:00 a.m.

About the Author:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.