San Luis Obispo Downtown Association Executive Director Deborah Cash is retiring in December after 18 years as the organization’s head.
“The organization itself is in good shape, and the timing is optimum for this change,” said Deborah Cash in a message to downtown businesses Wednesday. “We are financially secure and well staffed, have a strong board and committees, we hold high quality and successful events and we are well regarded among downtowns across the state and country as a model to emulate.”
Cash joined the organization in 1991 as an intern and later as independent contractor for communications, reports and other special projects. She was hired as the executive director in 1995.
Cash, a tireless advocate of the downtown, is credited with transforming the organization from the Business Improvement District to the Downtown Association, refocusing its mission on economic development and promotional events.
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She also transitioned the association from a city advisory body to an independent nonprofit organization, enabling the organization to take political positions.
During her tenure Cash earned the designation as a certified Main Street manager and successfully obtained the Great American Main Street Award in 1999. She launched a plethora of events and ideas to improve the downtown, including Concerts in the Plaza, Downtown Foresters, lighting in the downtown and the BoxArt Program that solicited artists to paint utility boxes throughout the downtown.
“She has been an incredible advocate for all of the downtown for such a long time,” said Ermina Karim, president and chief executive officer of the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. “She has been an integral part of making sure our downtown continues to evolve and remain vibrant for both residents and visitors.”
Cash, a Cal Poly graduate, said she is retiring to spend more time with her husband, Wyatt, and their family and friends. Her last day with the Downtown Association will be Dec. 31.