Cristy Dunn is presented with the Pinnacle Award for Volunteer of the Year at the Johnson County Center for the Arts. Photo by Mona Alderson.
By Meg Dickens
Johnson County Center for the Arts Executive Director Cristy Dunn was named the 2020 Pinnacle Award for Volunteer of the Year on June 25, at the Pinnacle Awards luncheon at the Johnson City Country Club.The Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association bestows the award annually to an individual who shows a significant commitment to tourism in Northeast Tennessee and has made an economic and community impact.
Dunn is a Johnson County native with deep roots within the community. She has established a multitude of events and groups through her art and enthusiasm. One such event is the four-day festival Long Journey Home, which Dunn’s 2015 mural of Tom Dula set into motion.
Now there are six murals, which make a self-guided walking tour known as the Mountain City Musical Heritage Mural Mile. “The murals have restored pride in our community and resulted in the Long Journey Home Festival which draws visitors from far and wide to celebrate authentic mountain music,” Dunn explained.
Dunn works with a multitude of organizations and groups through programs including the Johnson County Senior Center, local library, school system, Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM), and the Berea College-sponsored Air Shift Program. She also has ties to the International Guild of Realism Art (IGOR), the Art Renewal Center, and Tennesseans for the Arts.
Dunn shares her creative talents with the public. From 2011 to 2017, she worked as an art teacher at Johnson County High School. Dunn still teaches art but through the Johnson County Center for the Arts. These classes are in high demand, and center officials report that spots fill almost immediately.
“Cristy Dunn is a small-town girl with a global vision. Her work on the Musical Heritage Mural Mile, the Long Journey Home Festival, and the Johnson County Center for the Arts has a huge impact on this area, raising the standard of living for all in this community while drawing visitors from around the world,” reads her nomination. “She manages to juggle the demands of these activities as well as her role as a single mother of three boys with true grace. She never fails to respond to others with kindness and genuine interest. Her contributions to this area cannot be overstated.”