DownTown Issaquah Association hires executive director

December 16, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 10:15 a.m. Dec. 16, 2011

Days after the DownTown Issaquah Association’s executive director abruptly resigned, the merchants group selected a board member and Issaquah resident as a replacement.

Karen Donovan is the nonprofit organization’s next leader, DownTown Issaquah Association leaders announced Friday morning. Donovan leads Space Media, a full-service advertising agency specializing in music and events. The agency’s clients include The Puyallup Fair, plus several local government agencies in the Northwest.

“For the past year, I have thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the DIA board and the downtown community,” she said in a statement. “My board experience and professional experience will transition nicely with the executive director position.”

In addition to professional and DownTown Issaquah Association commitments, Donovan is involved in local arts and education organizations, including Arts Corps and the Issaquah Schools Foundation.

Donovan succeeds former Executive Director Annique Bennett, a onetime cultural events coordinator for the organization. Bennett resigned Dec. 6 after months at the DownTown Issaquah Association.

The merchants group has experienced several changes in leadership since February.

Starting last year, the board redefined the roles for association employees. The board decided to let go of longtime Executive Director Greg Spranger in February.

The change came after DownTown Issaquah Association board members decided to eliminate the executive director position and, after Spranger applied for the replacement position — community relations manager — the board hired another candidate, Tanya Alter.

Longtime Cultural Events Manager Michael Johnson resigned after the board decided not to select Spranger.

Bennett then came onboard as Johnson’s replacement. In the late spring, Alter left the organization. Months later, board members combined the community relations and cultural events staff positions into the executive director role for Bennett.

Following Bennett’s resignation, board President Lynn Rehn praised the former executive director for positioning the organization for 2012. Donovan said the DownTown Issaquah Association is prepared for the coming year.

“The goals DIA has set for 2012 are on target. We are finishing up the new DIA website and it will be ready to launch Jan. 1,” she said. “We are very excited about the wine walks that will be held in downtown Issaquah the first Friday of February, March and April. Stay tuned for more details.”

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