UPDATE: We received an email from outgoing Executive Director, Lisa Thompson answering a few questions we sent.
Why are you leaving after such a short tenure? I’m leaving because I was recently offered a wonderful position working for the Executive Vice President and Chief Preservation Officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. I’m very passionate about the good that Main Street programs can achieve, and this is an opportunity for me to work with Main Street programs across the country.
When will your final day be? My final day is today – Friday, May 6th. I was offered the job with the National Trust just last Friday, and I informed the Annapolis Partnership on Monday that I would be leaving. My contract with the Partnership provided that I should give five days’ notice.
What, if any, advice can you offer the Annapolis business community going forward? I would encourage the business community to embrace the “Main Street” approach. It is a preservation-based organizing framework that enables communities to revitalize downtown and neighborhood business districts by leveraging local assets. As a wonderful city that is full of history and creative energy, Annapolis seems tailor-made for this approach.
Lisa Thompson has resigned as the Executive Director of the Annapolis Partnership after three months on the job. A Maryland native, Thompson came to the Annapolis business community by way of Waterford, Virginia where she headed up an tour and crafts exhibit for Waterford Homes. Prior to that she was the Director of the Department of Main Street for the City of Paducah, Kentucky; which is a similar program to the Annapolis Partnership.
The Annapolis Partnership bills itself as a business organization; however much of it’s funding and to a lesser degree its oversight is by the City of Annapolis and the Main Streets Annapolis Partnership program. The Annapolis Partnership evolved as a merger of sorts from the former Annapolis Business Association which some felt was ill-conceived.
Businesses continue to struggle in the downtown area. Former Mayor Cohen established and provided seed funding for the Annapolis Economic Development Corporation which was a private entity disbanded in current Mayor Michael Pantelides’ first year. Pantelides continued to maintain the Main Streets Annapolis Partnership program and hired an additional Economic Development Director, Hollis Minor, who has duties shared between the City and the County. Meanwhile, the City provided funding to the newly named Annapolis Partnership and also held Board seats which was never the case with the Annapolis Business Association. However, Annapolis Partnership (the business community) was never offered a voice on the City Council.
Neither Annapolis Partnership President Doug Smith, nor Lisa Thompson, had not responded to our email at the time of publication.
We have also learned that Mayor Pantelides is pulling back the funding that the City agreed to pay to Annapolis Partnership. The $50,000 per year was being paid in monthly payments to the organization, but the City advised the organization that the payments will cease as the Mayor re-evaluates the program. The City has also requested that the organization not look for a new Executive Director at this point.
Thompson’s short term was tenacious at best according to a local businessperson and member of the association, he was surprised at her initial selection, “There were many dynamic individuals that wanted that position. Many that truly understood the challenges businesses face in Annapolis and the potential for growth. Going forward, we need an Executive Director that isn’t afraid to roll up his or her sleeves to get the job done. There are several people that come to mind and I hope the board acts quickly to secure one of them.”