Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Downtown Org. names new director


After going six months without an executive director, the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization announced yesterday it has hired Bill Collyer to take the helm of the 1,400 member non-profit.
Collyer, who has worked in sales and management at the Santa Barbara News-Press since 1985, will inherit an organization responsible for such events as 1st Thursday, the Downtown Holiday Parade and the Downtown Art and Wine Tour.

“We are excited to welcome Mr. Collyer as head of the organization’s professional staff,” said Bill Duval, president of the Downtown Organization’s Board of Directors. “Bill brings rich experience in the Santa Barbara community as well as a legendary work ethic to the job.”
Collyer’s hiring occurred in-step with a reorganization of the Downtown Organization’s executive staff, a process that included the promotion of Jennifer Rose, the organization’s marketing director, to the newly created position of operations director.
Mary Lynn Harms, who has worked as a development manager for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for the past five years, will replace Rose as the marketing director.
Collyer is the organization's third full-time director. He replaces former executive director Mark Chaconas, who resigned from his post last August, just six months after being hired.
At the News-Press, Collyer was most recently the commercial printing manager and was responsible for coordinating and overseeing the printing of all publications not affiliated with the News-Press.
He has also served as the PTA president at Roosevelt Elementary and Santa Barbara Junior High Schools.
Chaconas took the reins from Marshall Rose, who was with the organization for 10 years before leaving to open the Hollister Brewing Company with his son Eric Rose.
Jennifer Rose said the lengthy search for a new executive director was the result of a thorough search by a 10-member executive search committee.
“They wanted to make sure they found the right person,” she said, adding that the process was not open to applicants, but prospective candidates were sought out instead.
Jennifer Rose said the organization has managed to keep its head above water for the past six months despite the lack of a director.
She said 1st Thursday events have continued to grow, attracting 4,000 to 5,000 people each month.
The Downtown Organization represents businesses located within the borders of Anacapa, Chapala, Micheltorena and Gutierrez Streets. According to a statement from the organization, some of its goals are to keep downtown Santa Barbara clean, attractive, safe and vibrant.
Jennifer Rose said Collyer will be able to immediately begin representing the organization at public meetings and other events that she and other staff members haven’t been able to regularly attend.
“We really haven’t had someone be able to be out there in the public as much as we used to,” she said. “It’s going to be really positive for the downtown merchants and downtown as a whole.”
Attempts to reach Collyer for comment were unsuccessful.

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