Special to Find It In Fondren

A Fondrenite quietly working behind the scenes this past year has officially come into the fold as the newest member of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation staff.

Jackson native Angie Noble has accepted the title of Special Projects Director for the non-profit, a role she has served in part-time since the late Mary Jo McAnally, FRF’s associate director, took ill in late 2014.

Noble is a Belhaven University graduate who later went on to become a paralegal. After marrying in 1996 and moving back to Jackson prior to the birth of her first child in 1998, she says the years she spent as a stay-at-home mom ultimately lead to where she is today.

“I was a really good Junior Leaguer those years,” she laughs of the decade she spent rearing her children — three of them — and helping plan events and special functions. It’s where she connected with Jim Wilkirson who would later become FRF’s Executive Director. When he called Noble to help him through a “difficult time” during McAnally’s illness, she agreed to fill in.

When Noble came in in February, Zippity Doo Dah® was her “baptism by fire,” so to speak. She laughs: “It was quite the shock. I had no idea what all went into it!” Then came the first-ever Mississippi Craft Beer Festival last June. “When Jim saw I was excited, with my special events history, he let me run with it. We didn’t know how it would turn out (being the first year) but Derek Nelson and Matt Jeffries (Capital City Beverage and Southern Beverage, respectively) were incredible to work with. Being a sold out event, it turned out better than anyone anticipated.”

2016 is already in high gear. Right away, Noble wants to be more involved with FRF’s annual fund drive. “I want to help raise awareness of this organization’s contribution to the neighborhood,” Noble explains. “I think so many people are undereducated about what goes on in this office.”

She points to the all-encompassing role the non-profit serves in, part Chamber of Commerce, part city hall. “Since day one, I’ve never answered a call or heard Jim answer one where we couldn’t help. One hundred percent of the time, whether it’s something that falls under us or not, (Jim) goes out of his way to resolve the situation. There’s no Fondren question we will turn away. I don’t know if folks understand that — that it’s about quality of life.”

In 2016, Noble says cohesiveness is her aim. “We have so much positive energy in Fondren and so many organizations and entities doing great things for the neighborhood. But I think we can do even more as we put our passions and resources together. We all want the same thing. We all have the same goals.”

Also on her full plate, Noble hopes FRF can make this — sooner than later — the year the Federal Transportation Enhancement Grant happens. Administered by the City of Jackson, the project that will bring better pedestrian access, landscape and lighting to the historic business district, has stalled out over time. “We’re ready to see this amazing project come to fruition,” she says, “and I know our merchants and residents are excited for it, too.”

With skill and passion like this, Noble could go elsewhere but she says, Fondren is worth the investment. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else. Jackson has so much to offer as a whole, but this — this neighborhood – is the melting pot. I just love it.”