Jeffrey Parks grew up in northeast Bethlehem attending BASD schools. After graduating from Lehigh University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School he returned to Bethlehem to help his hometown recover from deindustrialization, a global phenomenon that resulted in the city losing its primary employer Bethlehem Steel. Parks advocated for the arts as a vehicle to bring the community together, encourage people to stay here rather than leave and distinguish Bethlehem as a community that cherished the arts and welcomed diversity. Parks founded Musikfest, Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem and the Banana Factory arts center. His vision for a 10-acre arts campus around the iconic Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces led to the development of the SteelStacks Arts Campus. Today Bethlehem is a thriving community with robust visual, performing and digital arts programs, attracting new residents and businesses and offering opportunities to access the 21st Century economy.
In his “retirement” Parks has served as Chair of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, written a book about Bethlehem’s renaissance: “Stronger than Steel”, and serves as COO for his LHS Grad son Jonathan Parks’ creative business Alibi Music, LP.