Theresa Cameron is leaving Van Ness Main Street at the end of May to join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Strathmore as vice president. She will be greatly missed.
Cameron was hired as Van Ness Main Street’s first executive in January 2016, two months after the organization won the District’s “Main Street” designation. Her energy and tenacity were instrumental in getting Van Ness Main Street off the ground and off to a running start. She leaves with many accomplishments under her belt, including a stable organization in a strong financial position to weather this transition.
Cherie Lester, who has been working with local businesses on improving their social media presence and marketing, will take on the role until the end of September, which will allow time for the Van Ness Main Street board to hire a replacement by October 1.
Cameron tells us she is sad to leave, but this new position is an opportunity that she could not refuse. She came to Van Ness Main Street with an arts and culture background – one that she quickly put to use with monthly “Jazz @ VN” performances at local businesses. She has enjoyed working with our businesses and is leaving Thai Pad with a $20,000 grant to replace their kitchen’s ventilation system from the Department of Small and Local Business Development. She was successful in shepherding their application through the government bureaucracy.
She has also pushed Van Ness Main Street to expand its territory north to the Politics and Prose block. She had already started working with Little Red Fox, Politics and Prose and I’m Eddie Cano. To support these efforts, Council member Mary Cheh is working to secure funding in the DC budget for this expansion. Theresa hopes the property owners and businesses will support the work of Van Ness Main Street like the businesses at Van Ness have.
Where would the Van Ness-UDC farmers market be without her? Cameron is always there, greeting neighbors and giving helpful hints to vendors in their offerings and displays. She is proud of how the market has expanded to include non-food vendors and host musical artists and cooking demonstrations.
Another big accomplishment is the plan for public art installations at three Van Ness locations. Cameron led the community process in vetting artists and their concepts. The first installation is funded by the Whittle School and will be located there, at Connecticut Avenue and Van Ness Street. Currently, Whittle is working on getting the permits for the installation. Cameron, in the meantime, is working on a grant submission to the DC Commission of the Arts for the second installation.
Cameron is frustrated to be leaving some unfinished business. Van Ness Main Street has been awaiting word from the District Department of Transportation on starting the community process for a new streetscape design. She had hoped that the project would be further along by now. She also wished that there had been more movement from UDC on filling its empty retail space along Connecticut Avenue with pop-up stores, especially at 4250 Connecticut. But she hopes to see a pop-up retailer in the Student Center by the Fall.
In the end, her biggest hope is to see the Van Ness Retail Plan, a joint study by UDC, Bernstein Management Company and Van Ness Main Street, implemented. She will be back to see the progress. Let’s not disappoint her.
Cameron has worked tirelessly to enliven Van Ness and make it more welcoming to local businesses and residents. Thank you, Theresa, for your dedication. We wish you the best in your new position.