Rev. Dr. Shelley Best ’10 Named One of Connecticut’s Great Innovators

December 7, 2022
Rev. Dr. Shelley Best

The Rev. Dr. Shelley Best, D.Min. ’10, has been highlighted as one of 11 innovators in the inaugural “Innovators Issue” published by The Hartford Business Journal and New Haven Biz. The selected are “individuals from diverse backgrounds and fields who are change-makers -- helping to improve the lives of people, shape industries, and bring new or better solutions to age-old problems.” The publication “recognizes talents from a range of disciplines including the arts, real estate, venture capital, entertainment, business, life sciences, philanthropy, and more.”

In the Hartford Business Journal interview, the Rev. Dr. Best recounts that while she was getting her Doctor of Ministry at Hartford International, she got closer to art by painting and expressing “herself theologically on canvas.” And when she graduated, “her path to the pulpit merged with the focus of her doctorate: faith-based community development — the involvement of faith-based institutions in the economic revitalization of local communities — and its outgrowth, social enterprise.” 

In April, she became the CEO of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, an organization that “helps fund a wide variety of arts enterprises in Hartford and the Greater Hartford region.” With this appointment, the Rev. Dr. Best is working towards fostering the model of a social enterprise “in other arts and other organizations throughout the city and Greater Hartford region, especially among more traditional venues.” She, like many, realizes that the arts in Hartford are Eurocentric and don’t represent the area’s inhabitants. She strives for art to represent the community “so that all people get to see and experience their stories in galleries, on stages, or through music. ”

Through the recently created Reenvision Arts initiative, the Arts Council “helps arts organizations gain new audiences — critical to survival — by pivoting from traditional themes to those focused on “DEIAJ,” which the Rev. Dr. Best says stands for “diversity, equity, inclusion, access and justice.” It is one way to achieve her goal.

Congratulations, Shelley! 

Access the Hartford Business Journal article, written by HIU alum Tom Verde '09, at this link

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