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Downtown casts new director

Theater leader wants to bring more ‘drama’

June 29, 2007

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Rick Marquez will turn over his job as director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. to Jane Pennington next month. Pennington now is development director for the Lawrence Community Theatre. They were in Downtown Lawrence Inc.'s office in the U.S. Bank Tower, 900 Mass., on Thursday.

Rick Marquez will turn over his job as director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. to Jane Pennington next month. Pennington now is development director for the Lawrence Community Theatre. They were in Downtown Lawrence Inc.'s office in the U.S. Bank Tower, 900 Mass., on Thursday.

Three questions with ... Rick Marquez

Rick Marquez, outgoing director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., talks about why he's leaving. Enlarge video

Three questions with ... Jane Pennington

Jane Pennington, incoming director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., talks about her new position. Enlarge video

Three questions with Chris Burger

Chris Burger, President of Downtown Lawrence, Inc., talks about Marquez's departure. Enlarge video

Downtown Lawrence Inc. casts new director

Downtown Lawrence Incorporated is getting a new director - pulling a leader from the world of theater. Enlarge video

Installation of new waterlines will be nearly complete, road repairs will be in the works and merchants will be busy cleaning up after the biggest sale of the summer.

Just in time for Jane Pennington to begin her new job.

"It's a good time to start," said Pennington, who becomes director of Downtown Lawrence Inc. on July 23. "There will be a little break, to kind of get my bearings before things start jumping too quickly."

Pennington, development director for the Lawrence Community Theatre, is taking over from Rick Marquez, who is leaving after 14 months to manage the meat and seafood department at the Community Mercantile Co-op.

As the top administrator for Downtown Lawrence Inc., Pennington will schedule events, promote commerce and otherwise work on behalf of the organization's 113 member residents, businesses and others interested in the continued health and vitality of the city's central business district, which has more than 250 business professionals and companies.

As residential options increase in and around the area - Pennington herself lives on Massachusetts Street, a few blocks south of downtown - the association continues to have a variety of interests to represent as the self-proclaimed "Heart of the City" faces a seemingly endless list of pressures.

Whether it's the district's own rising tax assessments or the threat of new and expanded retail developments at the edges of town, Pennington now finds herself cast in the middle of it all. To get into the part, she plans to draw upon her recent role as lead fundraiser for the Lawrence Community Theatre - which considers itself a downtown institution, at 15th and New Hampshire streets - to help boost visibility for the district and, she hopes, bring rave reviews.

"I'm ready to bring some drama downtown," she said, with a smile.

Before working for the community theater, Pennington spent four years as executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County.

Such experience and community involvement helped lift Pennington to the top of a long list of candidates for the director job, said Chris Burger, president of the group's board of directors.

"Jan really stood out with her ability to organize and bring people together," said Burger, an attorney with Stevens and Brand. "She has lots of great, creative ideas, too. We're very excited."

It's up to Pennington to pick up where Marquez is leaving off, Burger said, and continue working to draw people into the downtown area - an area that is nearing the end of weeks of construction related to installation of new waterlines beneath Massachusetts Street, and is eagerly awaiting the annual Downtown Lawrence Sidewalk Sale, set for July 19.

A week from today, Marquez will leave his office inside the U.S. Bank Tower and head over to The Merc, a natural foods cooperative that was born downtown and has since grown into a major operator at Ninth and Iowa streets.

He knows Downtown Lawrence Inc. is in good hands.

"We've laid a good foundation," Marquez said.

Comments

nell 7 years, 6 months ago

"The Merc, a natural foods cooperative that was born downtown "

Did the Merc have it's beginnings downtown? I thought it began as a bulk purchasing coop in East Lawrence.

stuckinthemiddle 7 years, 6 months ago

nell The first location I remember for the Merc in the early 70s was on Mass Street... maybe where Buffalo Bob's is... or around there...

George_Braziller 7 years, 6 months ago

"I'm ready to bring some drama downtown," she said, with a smile.

One of the best things that she could do first is meet with the East Lawrence Neighborhood Assocication and talk about the "drama" that is already taking place downtown. Old West Lawrence has the pool and park as a natural barrier. For us it's in our front and back yards.

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