I have to start this post by acknowledging how fortunate this organization is and has been to receive the benefit of such unique and decidedly talented people in our staff members.
As you know, Alex’s last day working with the Downtown Association was yesterday. With the timing of my travel schedule and the many pressing priorities, I feel as though we didn’t give Alex as proper of a send off as she deserved, but I am comforted to know that, not only isn’t she going far, but her new position with business development for the University’s Alumni Association will provide a valuable bridge for our organization, and I know will be a fantastic position for Alex. To say nothing of how lucky they are to have her.
It has been wonderful to work with Alex in very evolving roles here and to watch her fearlessly build and support a community of young professionals while expanding the reach and perspective of the Downtown Assocaition. I know I speak for Sonja and myself when I say we will miss her support, skill, charm and humor in the office.
Thank you, Alex and all the best.
And now to the question of what’s next, in terms of Staffing.
Here are my thoughts, based on what I see as the priorities and needs for the Downtown Association in the immediate and foreseeable future. I would certainly appreciate any feedback, ideas or suggestions pertaining to this. I do not feel an urgency to fill a position, rather a commitment tofully understanding what the needs are, and then finding the right person to join our team.
Since Kim left in the Fall her position has not been replaced and her tasks were distributed among Sonja, Alex, a little bit to the Kiosk and mostly to myself, with a small amount of the design work contracted back to Kim. The good news is it provided good budget savings which was needed to help address cost overages with the rebrand, and reduced holiday sponsorship revenue. Additionally, out of necessity, it led to identifying some big efficiencies in how Kim’s job was done and we were able to streamline and even automate some things that have saved a bit of staff time. The bad news is that some functions have dropped off in Kim’s absence, especially in terms of social media.
I believe the biggest impact we can have will come from very coordinated and thoughtful marketing efforts, including social media, mass media, and leveraging our members and our community to celebrate Downtown and to really exploit our new brand. This takes dedicated staff and will be the priority for a new staff position.
2- The Kiosk
The Kiosk is celebrating our 5th anniversary coming up in April, (and yes, we’re going to make a very big deal of it) Alan and Vnes have both been there since day one, and frankly, I hope they will both be there forever. When we move out of winter hours and we go back to 7 days and expanded hours, it will be necessary to bring on a third person, as we do every year. It has been a bit hard, though we’ve had some pretty good success finding someone willing and available to work only one or two shifts each week, but the schedule really works well otherwise, and I would rather not change it. I see an opportunity for the new position to include 1 shift a week at the Kiosk. This covers the staffing challenge, but more importantly, it really connects our main marketing person directly to our most visible program and visa-verse. There are numerous other hidden potentials as well.
3- My Focus
As I mentioned, I did take on a bit of Kim’s role when she left. Over the years, in my tenure as the Director, we have continued to add and expand programs. I have made adjustments to the staffing to address the needs as they change and evolve and we have adjusted our budget to pay for the Info Kiosk, The Trolley, The Downtown Identity Project, The Branding, a Membership Position, etc. We have increased the budget, but not substantially. We have become focused greatly on operations and programs, including a large advocacy program, but we, or I should say, I have not nurtured organizational development and administration as much as is needed.
In creating a new position, and evaluating existing positions, a primary concern will be that of allowing my focus to shift a bit from operations to administration. My ensuring that we have qualified, directed and empowered staff to focus on programs such as marketing, events and other ongoing activities, my focus can expand to provide improved board management, reporting, resource development and overall administrative direction.
We are a very robust and productive organization and I believe we have an opportunity to be even more productive and effective as move forward. The months ahead will be exciting and full as we build our workplan for the next year, continue to work toward the launch of Downtown Streets Team, work diligently to develop an informed and thoughtful position on the proposed parking structure, Build a new Website and continue to implement our new brand, and continue to recruit and engage new board and committee members.
I look forward to working with you all in the months to come. Please do let me know if you have any questions or comments.