Downtown Durham Inc., which has been without a permanent leader since April 2016, named Nicole J. Thompson as its new CEO on Tuesday.
Thompson – who will take charge of the downtown advocacy organization on Feb. 13 – replaces interim CEO Lew Myers, who has led it since April 2016.
Myers was made interim head of DDI after its previous CEO Geoff Durham was tapped for the CEO role at the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce last year.
Thompson joins DDI from her most recent position as executive director of the Lake County Economic Development Corporation in Leadville, Colorado. Before that, she worked in different positions across Virginia, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth as well as King George and Fairfax counties.
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“Downtown Durham is uniquely wonderful,” she said in a statement. “I look forward to engaging with all of downtown’s stakeholders to strengthen our best traditions, to work through our challenges, to identify and welcome new opportunities and to include everyone in our success.”
Thompson also has experience in the Durham area, earning a Master of Arts in city and regional planning from UNC as well as working as a community economic development coordinator with the Durham-based N.C. Institute of Minority Economic Development.
At the Institute of Minority Economic Development, Thompson worked previously with Myers. She will be the fourth CEO of DDI and the first female.
Courtney James, the current DDI chairman, said a search firm was used to identify candidates for the position and nine people were interviewed.
“She has a very strong economic development background, which will be a very good thing for us,” said James, who has been on the DDI board since 2012.
“Everyone that we talked to that had any interaction with her were all very complimentary and focused on her creative energy.”
James said that Thompson will likely first focus on the rollout of DDI’s master plan for downtown, drafting best practices for downtown parking and continuing a downtown lighting improvement plan.