DownTown Issaquah Association replaces longtime director
March 1, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Downtown Issaquah booster Greg Spranger — nicknamed “Captain Downtown” — is out at the DownTown Issaquah Association after leading the organization for more than a decade.
DownTown Issaquah Association President David Irons said the organization is pursuing a different approach to boosting businesses and programs in the historic downtown. So, the board scrapped the executive director position Spranger held, and created a community relations manager post as a replacement.
The board hired Issaquah resident Tanya Alter for the post. Irons announced the appointment Feb. 28, the same day Alter started in the part-time position.
“When looking at her résumé, she had the attributes we were looking for in a candidate,” Irons said.
The organization put out a call for applicants in January; 42 people applied for the position, including Spranger.
“Greg was one of the finalists in the process,” Irons said. “When it came down to it, the board really felt that although Greg has done a tremendous amount of positive work — his list of accomplishments, you can’t get them on one page, and his awards are the same way — there was just a feeling at the board level that we’re looking at going in a different direction.”
Spranger started as executive director 11 years ago. The organization launched ArtWalk and opened the restored Hailstone Feed Store as a community space during the same period.
“Everybody likes to think that they can’t be replaced, but hey, that’s a fool speaking,” Spranger said.
Cultural Events Manager Michael Johnson resigned after the board decided to hire a candidate other than Spranger.
“I fundamentally disagreed with their decision to move away from Greg, who I think has been Issaquah’s greatest visionary that we’ve ever had,” he said. “I could sit here and list things that he’s been involved in and contribute to Issaquah’s character and economic vitality every single day.”
Irons, a former King County executive candidate, said the board spent months last year re-examining goals and resetting priorities. Members decided to reduce the number of part-time employees from three to a community relations manager and a cultural events manager. The board also outlined different priorities for the community relations manager position.
“It wasn’t that Greg didn’t have a lot of positive attributes,” Irons said. “Sometimes you need engineers and sometimes you need electricians, but you’re not going to take an engineer and have them do electrical work or take an electrician and have them do engineering work.”
Alter is responsible for managing and increasing DownTown Issaquah Association members, raising money for the organization, planning and coordinating events, and acting as a liaison between the organization and the city.
Leaders also intend for the organization to attract members beyond the historic downtown core.
Alter handled event planning, marketing and promotions for music acts and artists at the former Grimaldi’s Coffee House in Gilman Village, and special events for the Providence Mount St. Vincent Foundation, a Seattle nonprofit organization focused on health care.
In addition to serving as a parent volunteer at Issaquah Valley Elementary School, she teaches Jazzercise at the Issaquah Community Center.
“I’m really looking forward at getting more involved in the community, meeting all of the businesspeople and seeing what we as a DownTown Issaquah Association can do to grow the downtown community,” she said Feb. 28.
Spranger offered a good-luck message to the association, but he said he plans to steer clear of downtown events. In the meantime, he said he plans to return to the Issaquah History Museums — another passion.
“I know there have been some people thinking that I’ll come back and work the events, because we created the events and they’re all loved — ArtWalk, Fenders on Front Street and those kind of things — but this was a job. It helped keep me afloat,” he said. “Now, I have to figure out another way of filling a void there.”
Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.