My colleagues and I keep thinking we’ll wake up from this very bad dream at some point, and things will be back to normal. Not having Adam Jones-Kelley at the helm of the Conway Data ship still does not compute, weeks after his passing. He steered this ship from the relatively safe harbor of magazine publishing and association management to the oceans of opportunity waiting for us in advisory services, global FDI events, marketing, analytics and consulting. In doing so, he made Conway a worldwide force in location attraction and economic development. And he never let us forget why we do what we do: To better the lives of those in the cities, regions and countries we work with around the world.
It would take the rest of this issue to share my many memories of working with Adam at our Peachtree Corners headquarters and around the globe — in Switzerland, Ghana, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, China, Australia and many other places. His love of wildlife knew no bounds. If there was a zoo or wildlife refuge anywhere near where he was traveling, it was on his itinerary.
More importantly, Adam loved his coworkers. He considered us family and had a streak of generosity that’s normally only found among family members. Exactly 10 years my junior, I often thought of AJK as my kid brother that I tried to keep out of trouble, because he could be pretty spontaneous. It sometimes worked.
Among Adam’s legacies is the vastly improved look of Site Selection compared to its former days. He was passionate about making sure our covers and every page in every issue looked award-winning. He wrote many articles, too, and had a way of keeping readers’ attention to the very end of those articles and leaving them wanting more. That’s the sign of a great writer. And it’s that example that makes our editorial stand apart.
I spoke with Adam’s mother, Laura, in the days after his passing and asked how she was doing. She recalled flying the family plane as a youngster with her father, Conway Data founder Mac Conway. While she was at the controls, things could turn dicey — changing weather and other circumstances. At those times, Mac had one message for her: “Fly the plane, Laura!” Stay on course, in other words, no matter what.
We are just as focused on our mission. Circumstances have changed in the worst way, but the journey continues. We are stronger on our journey thanks to Adam’s leadership and friendship.
Till next time,
Mark Arend, Editor in Chief