Innovation Center to Welcome Macon-Based Public Relations and Communications Professional Jessica Walden for Open MIC Night


MACON – Mercer Innovation Center (MIC) Open MIC Night this week will feature communications consultant Jessica Walden on March 1 at 6:30 p.m.

Walden, a native of Macon, was born to the family of music executives who managed artists such as Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Her family legacy and passion for her hometown led to the formation of Rock Candy Tours, a Macon music history tour company owned and operated by Walden and her husband, Jamie Weatherford, a third-generation candy manufacturer.

Walden began her career in public relations and events at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. She later worked as a writer and editor for several local print publications, including Macon's 11th Hour, where she served as the alt-weekly's first editor.

In 2009, she became director of communications and outreach for the College Hill Alliance, the administrative office for the wildly successful College Hill Corridor project that leveraged more than $200 million in a two-square-mile area of Macon's most historic neighborhoods.

Following the sunset of the College Hill Alliance in 2015, Walden works as a communications consultant with a primary focus in community development and non-profit branding and marketing. Her current clients include the Community Foundation of Georgia, the Peyton Anderson Foundation, and EveryoneOn, a national non-profit based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on digital inclusion initiatives.

In 2015, Georgia Trend magazine named Walden one of the state's “40 Under 40.” Five years earlier, Macon Magazine declared her one of the city's “Five Under 40.” She was the Bragg Jam Music Festival's first marketing chair and served in that capacity for 10 years. She is a member of Leadership Georgia (2013), Leadership Macon (2009), Macon's Downtown Rotary Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting's Macon Advisory Council.

Walden received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Georgia State University. She is a graduate of the Georgia Academy of Economic Development and earned a certificate of non-profit management from Georgia's Nonprofit University.

Earlier this year, the Mercer Innovation Center began hosting Open MIC Night as part of its programming intended to develop the already rich and thriving culture of entrepreneurism at Mercer, as well as to foster relationships, network and collaborate with entrepreneurs, the local community, other universities and beyond.

The Center plans to continue the speaker series on Tuesday evenings. To be added to the MIC listserv or to be considered as a speaker for the series, contact Dr. Riley at

Upcoming speakers will be announced on the calendar of events at

About the Mercer Innovation Center

The Mercer Innovation Center is an effort by Mercer University, along with community partners such as the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Birch Communications and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, to advance a culture of innovation and develop a thriving community of entrepreneurs, with a focus on utilizing technology to foster economic growth, create 21st century jobs and attract and retain talent. The Center is an institutional effort – led by the Stetson School of Business and Economics – that crosses academic disciplines and geographic boundaries to draw from all of the University's colleges, schools, departments and operating units. Community memberships are available, as the Center's activities and resources are intended to be available to Mercer students and non-students alike. For more information, visit

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.