Santa Barbara Downtown Organization Finally Names Top Executive

Carrie Kelly

After almost a year with an interim leader, the Board of Directors of Downtown Santa Barbara Organization announced Carrie Kelly has been hired as its new executive director, according to an Oct. 28 press release. 

Kelly has worked in the legal, nonprofit and government sectors in Indiana and Arizona during her 15-year career.  She has a bachelor’s in art history and a master’s in public affairs from Indiana University in Indianapolis. 

The new Downtown Organization leader is relocating to Santa Barbara with her husband, daughter and a dog next month and will begin work in early December, officials said. 

She has her work cut out for her with the mounting vacant square footage on State Street, among other issues. The Downtown Organization is an advocate for the merchants and property owners of the downtown Business Improvement District in Santa Barbara with more than 1,400 members.

In January, the Downtown Organization named Dave Lombardi as interim director in the wake the resignation of Maggie Campbell.

Campbell was hired as executive director of the Downtown Organization in 2014 after coming to the South Coast from St. Louis, Mo. She left as State Street saw a number businesses close and after disagreeing about a plan to put a 7-Eleven store at the corner of Ortega and State streets. The space still is vacant.

Lombardi owns Distinctive Framing ‘N’ Art store and gallery. He has served on the Downtown Santa Barbara Board of Directors since 2008. He was vice president in 2011 and was board president in 2012 and 2013.

Lombardi ran the organization during the executive director search process.

“Santa Barbara has such a unique downtown and I am anxious to jump in and work with stakeholders to tackle big issues,” Kelly was quoted as saying in the release. 

Current board President Traci Taitt said she is excited about Kelly’s appointment.  

“The Board of Directors of DSB could not be happier to have such a talented professional as our next executive director,” Taitt said. “We look forward to supporting Carrie in leading our efforts to ensure downtown is a vibrant, welcoming environment where businesses can prosper, and visitors are engaged and comfortable.” 

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