Co-founder Steve Heckler will leave the popular Twin Cities Jazz Festival in 2023

The co-founder of the hugely popular Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Steve Heckler, will retire in 2023 after his 25th presentation. He will be succeeded as executive director by Dayna Martinez, vice president of programming and education at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts.

“It’s time,” Heckler said Thursday. “Table [members] are over 70 years old. What will be the future? I just got my Medicare card last month.”

Martinez will work part-time with the Ordway and part-time with the TC Jazz Festival. She will officially become CEO in October 2023.

Heckler said the extended transition will give Martinez the opportunity to learn the inner workings of the free, multi-day, multi-stop festival in downtown St. Paul.

TC Jazz Fest attracts over 30,000 people to see some 70 musical acts on two dozen stages over three days. The musicians are paid but the festival is free, thanks to sponsors and subsidies.

Heckler, who has worked full-time for the TC Jazz Festival since 2013, will retire after the June event.

At the Ordway, Martinez organized the music and dance programs, supervised education and community engagement teams, and served as director of the Flint Hills Family Festival. Before joining the Ordway, she worked with a music management company in New York.

“She knows the complexity that goes into producing these things and raising funds, the changes that are happening in the city. She has all of that,” Heckler said. “It’s just a matter of how it all comes together and how the jazz community works. I’m really confident.”

Willie J. Johnson