"I’m passionate about the concept of putting a person with an artistic background into government service because they can give you another way to look at things.” —Jacqueline Pimentel
Jacqueline Pimentel was a shy kid from Covina, but at home, she loved to sing and perform. Her mom always nudged her towards their community’s musical theater scene—Jackie was a Lost Kid in Peter Pan first, and then appeared in Beauty and the Beast and Oliver! "I needed a creative outlet," she said. "My mom always encouraged me to get out of my shell." Jackie joined the chamber choir during high school, where she became a classically trained vocalist, grew to love music in various languages and genres, and had the opportunity to be a member in a successful ensemble that traveled to New York to sing at Carnegie Hall and Seattle for their annual Performing Arts Heritage Festival.
At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and then the University of La Verne, singing remained a passion. At UNLV, she continued to study choral music, but when she transferred to La Verne, she leaned into learning about barbershop music by joining a quartet and the choir. She continued her theater interests by working part time in the box office and then became the school theater’s house manager. "When I wasn’t a part of the cast, I was in charge of the shows, so I really got to know how the front and backend of theater works," she said.
Fresh out of college, Jackie got an usher job at the Ford Theatres, where she switched between house duty, the entrance gate, and helping the house manager. She eventually transferred to the box office. "I saw so many art forms, so many local companies perform. I remember the intensity of TAIKOPROJECT shows. And I remember a trio of Bolero guitarists—it was summer, and the theater was packed—and singing along with my mom who was there that night," she said. "Everybody was so captivated by these three guys singing in Spanish to music that had been passed down to them, that a lot of the audience, and myself grew up listening to. The Ford was magic for me."
In between the Ford, and recuperation from a broken leg sustained during a brief foray into roller derby, she was also an usher at the Pantages Theatre. "That was a really interesting culture, all musical theater," Jackie said. "I worked with actors, musicians, videographers, people who were beauty queens and pageant kings when they weren’t working at the theater. There were so many different types of disciplines within the ushers, and I made a lot of friends."
Roles at the Ford and in the Caltech box office were next, a theater staff position at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, then a PA job at the Mark Taper Forum for Zoot Suit. In 2019, she applied—and got—a job as a communications coordinator at the Ford. "I learned how to market shows, how to support performers," she said. But when the Ford Theaters transitioned to the Los Angeles Philharmonic later that year, Jackie was placed in Countywide Communications with the Chief Executive Office, where instead of doing outreach about shows and events, she learned how the County and its departments communicated its myriad services.
Jackie rejoined some of her Ford colleagues in 2021, when she got a job at the Department of Arts and Culture as a Cross Sector Associate. She worked on the Creative Strategist program, which places artists and creative workers in County departments to develop and implement artist-driven solutions to complex social challenges. Phung Huynh, for example, used her art practice and experience as a refugee at the Office of Immigrant Affairs, where she developed community engagement activities that built trust between immigrants and the agency. "I’m passionate about the concept of putting a person with an artistic background into government service because they can give you another way to look at things," she said.
Jackie also worked on a Creative Strategist project with artist Olga Koumoundouros, who had a residency with the Los Angeles County Office of Violence Prevention (OVP). With OVP staff, Olga developed the book Violence, Hope and Healing in LA County: The Storytelling Project, which uplifts the voices and stories of survivors and those impacted by violence. "Seeing that project come to fruition, and at the book launch event, looking at the audience of storytellers and survivors, it reminded me of looking out at the audience when I worked at the Ford—I love seeing everybody being affected by art, and connecting because of it."