Introducing | New NYFA Board Member: Justin Tobin
“I want my kids and their generation to live in a world where art and artists can continue to make a difference in people’s everyday lives. The best way to ensure that is through the support of organizations like NYFA, which is why I’m proud and excited to be involved.”
The New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) recently named four new members to its Board of Trustees: Tiana Webb Evans, Lorin Gu, Howard Pyle, and Justin Tobin. We are pleased to share our recent conversation with Justin Tobin, founder and president of DDG.
DDG is a consultancy that works with Fortune 500 companies to guide the development and growth of their innovation practices; help them adopt different ways of working; and create a new set of processes, metrics, and mindsets in order to become more entrepreneurial in their approach to growth and innovation. Tobin founded DDG to be a company built on great people who are diverse but like-minded in their passion for innovation, growth, and blazing new trails for companies, in 2009. Previously, Tobin was Vice President of Interactive Strategy and Transformation at American Express, where he developed Amex’s first social media strategy and mobile offering. Tobin is a New Yorker, born-and-raised, who lives in Greenwich Village with his wife and two children. In his spare time, he’s a Level III-Certified snowboard instructor.
NYFA: Why did you decide to join the NYFA board?
Justin Tobin: The simple answer is that I joined the board because I whole-heartedly believe in NYFA’s mission to empower working artists and emerging arts organizations. Growing up with artist parents, being a musician myself, and now living with my wife and children who are artists, I have learned that artists have a unique role in making the world a better place. Unfortunately, that role is not always valued in the way it should be, especially in today’s world, which makes the role NYFA plays so essential. I want my kids and their generation to live in a world where art and artists can continue to make a difference in people’s everyday lives. The best way to ensure that is through the support of organizations like NYFA, which is why I’m proud and excited to be involved.
NYFA: What do you hope to bring to NYFA as a board member?
JT: I hope to bring a sense of what I call “creative pragmatism” to the organization. What this means to me is that, as an entrepreneur, to be successful in my career I have to strike a good balance of both left and right brain thinking. As I mentioned before, I don’t want to just help NYFA survive, I want it to thrive as a more self-sustaining organization. From my point of view, that requires a tremendous amount of analytical and creative thinking on it’s journey to becoming the global beacon for artists it can and should be. I also don’t mind, frankly, being a bit provocative, which can be helpful in conversations as we continue exploring new ideas to accelerate NYFA’s growth.
NYFA: What advice do you have for emerging artists?
JT: Some of the best advice I ever received growing up was around the importance of learning other languages and sharing your language with others. In the context of NYFA, this means that artists need to help other people, especially non-artists, understand what it means to be an artist. The flip side of that advice is equally important, in that artists need to find ways to understand the non-artist perspective. For example, they should have the opportunity to think like entrepreneurs, to learn the language of commerce. When artists understand non-artists and vice versa, they have more empathy for what the other is trying to do. This can open up all kinds of opportunities and is the same thinking that went into NYFA’s Symposium on Cultural Entrepreneurship that occurred earlier this year. This event was so important because it explored the potential synergies between left and right brain methods which, ultimately, benefits everyone.
– Interview conducted by Ryan Hudak, Executive Assistant
Image: Justin Tobin, Courtesy of Justin Tobin