By Roni Robbins
In some ways, Lilli Jennison’s life and career aspirations have come full circle. The AJT’s creative and media designer was raised in Atlanta by strong women with artsy souls and solid work ethics. At the paper, she juggles a number of tasks, from designing advertising to placing editorial content aesthetically on our pages.
And when she’s not at work, she’s developing videos, serving as a youth group advisor, selling on eBay, playing with her pets, reading and shopping.
Staying busy was a philosophy she learned growing up.
Jennison, 24, and her older sister, were raised by a single mom along with their grandmother and aunt. “My grandmother babysat us all the time. She was very creative. “She had breast cancer and instead of seeing it as debilitating, she sang and danced in the Northside Hospital hallways with the doctors and nurses.”
While their mother worked, Lilli and her older sister – almost six years to the day – picked up artistry from their extended family. For instance, the family created and acted in its own version of classic fairy tales when Jennison was a toddler. She recalled one such film session. “My aunt had a video camera and we’d film shows. I was Snow White and my grandpa was the prince; my mom crawling on her knees played a dwarf, my grandma played the witch and my sister was the narrator.”
Jennison knew she wanted to pursue a creative career.
“I thought I wanted to do wedding planning and party planning.” She helped her sister with her wedding in 2015 and designed the invitations and programs.
After taking a 2-D AP art class in high school, Jennison began college as an art major studying graphic design at Kennesaw State University. Convinced she needed a career with more options, she got an associate degree in psychology at Georgia Perimeter College, only to return to KSU to major in public relations with a specialty in graphic design. “I didn’t want to do PR, but major in PR and do graphic design.” Go figure. Either way, her heart was in art and design.
In her senior year at KSU, she took a magazine class and interned at the AJT in the creative and media department. It was at that point that she fell in love with the news field. “I guess I always knew what I wanted to do, but just needed to wrap my mind around it.”
In addition to her internship, she held several jobs during college connected with the arts, including working at a Sandy Springs pottery shop and as an adviser for Congregation Etz Chaim’s youth department, a role she still holds during the school year. She also designs video montages for b’nai mitzvah and Etz Chaim holiday events.
“I’ve always been connected to the Jewish community in some way,” Jennison said. She attended Sunday School at The Temple and later, The Davis Academy and The Weber School. At KSU she was on the boards of Chabad and Hillel.
When she had the opportunity to go on Birthright Israel in 2015, Jennison saw it as a chance to connect with her grandfather, who died in 2008. He was a Holocaust survivor and served in the Israel Defense Forces. Perhaps it was that familial bond that somehow drove her to win a team-building challenge during Birthright in which participants competed to see who was the fastest to dress in a soldier’s uniform.
“There were three rounds and I went up against another girl,” Jennison recounted. “I like challenges.”
For her, assembling the AJT each week keeps that same pressure on. “It’s a challenge to put the puzzle pieces together. I love working to make something.”
One of her favorite recent puzzles was fitting eight couples under a chuppah for our Summer Love & Simchas cover.
She enjoys the collaborative work environment that allows her to brainstorm about designs with the editor and account managers. From her internship on, the AJT position has never really felt like work, she said. “It was something I view as fun.”
A positive spirit, no doubt, she also inherited from her family.