The fledgling Kendall-Whittier Urban Main Street program has hired its first director, a Tulsa native with nonprofit experience in locales around the country.
Elizabeth Howell, president of the organization's board of directors, said Donna Spitler has been hired to serve as the group's full-time director from a pool of approximately 25 applicants.
Spitler was an attractive candidate for a number of reasons, Howell said.
"Her experience, and she still had a passion for the Kendall-Whittier area," Howell said, explaining that Spitler had grown up in Tulsa before going on to serve as the executive director of nonprofit organizations in Mill Valley, Calif., and Eureka Springs, Ark. "Her grandparents had property here, and she had very fond memories of the Circle Cinema. She wants to see (Kendall-Whittier) restored and rejuvenated, which is our mission, as well. She has a wealth of experience in nonprofit organizations."
Spitler was scheduled to begin her work on June 15 and will be attending the executive director training program staged by the state Department of Commerce, which oversees the Main Street program. She already has attended a statewide historic preservation conference, Howell said.
Members of the board of directors will be undergoing a training session of their own, Howell said, before they turn their attention to finalizing the organization's first strategic plan, which is due by the end of July.
Other items on the board's agenda include continuing fundraising efforts and putting together committees dealing with Main Street's four primary areas of focus: design, economic restructuring, promotion and organization.
The organization's office will be located in the old No. 7 fire station from which Howell's landscape design and site planning business, Howell & Vancuren, operates at 601 S. Lewis Ave.
Kendall-Whittier's application to the Main Street program was accepted in February. The area is often cited as the first urban shopping district in the city outside of downtown, with parts of the district dating from 1916. It already is home to a number of successful revitalization projects, including the Circle Cinema.
The Main Street program provides technical and training assistance for preservation-based commercial district revitalization. It has been around for more than two decades and has more than 40 members around the state.
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