Van Ness Main Street did not have to go far to find its next executive director. She has lived in Van Ness for nearly two decades.“We are thrilled that long-time Van Ness resident Gloria Garcia has joined as our second Executive Director,” Sarah Cumbie, the chair of the Van Ness Main Street board, said in a statement. “She brings a deep and unique skill set to the position, including business development, fundraising, and marketing and branding.”
Garcia’s vast and varied nonprofit and NGO experience includes years at the World Bank and managing the U.S. cotton industry’s marketing, public relations and trade relations in Latin America. She picked up an appreciation for sustainable, walkable, and aesthetically pleasing urban communities at the American Society of Landscape Architects, and gained extensive fundraising experience at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and most recently, Raising a Reader.
Van Ness Main Street and its new executive director need the support of the whole community to make Van Ness a standout commercial corridor. And she is ready for the challenge.
“As a nearly 18-year resident of Van Ness, I am very excited and energized to work with the VNMS board and all the stakeholders to make Van Ness a beautiful, sustainable, walkable, and vibrant economic and cultural hub,” Garcia said in a statement.
Garcia takes the reins from Cherie Lester, who has been the interim executive director since May 2019, when the Main Street’s first executive director, Theresa Cameron, left to join the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Strathmore as vice president. Cameron had brought Lester on board as a social media consultant for local small businesses. Lester continued to work closely with them. Among her other accomplishments: She began reaching out to “emerging entrepreneurs” in the neighborhood, and that outreach in turn persuaded Nicole Crowder Upholstery to open a pop-up shop which won neighborhood raves. The arts and crafts space for children at the 2019 Van Ness UDC farmers market was another Lester touch.
Lester wants to make this a smooth transition.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time as Interim Director of Van Ness Main Street and am grateful for the support, encouragement and guidance from Theresa Cameron, the VNMS board, Cristina Amoruso, Marlene Berlin, Mary Beth Ray and the entire Van Ness community. It has meant so very much to me along the way,” Lester told Forest Hills Connection.
“With Gloria Garcia now at the helm, we can look forward to a restructuring of VNMS, creating opportunities for increased economic growth and positive change within the corridor.”