Friday, March 1, the Bee Vradenburg Foundation and COPPeR will jointly host a celebration of Edmondson's decade of work with the Foundation and transition over to the Downtown Partnership.
The party will be held from 5-7 p.m. at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media, 315 E. Costilla St. Beer, wine and light snacks will be provided.
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Edmondson will leave her post of 10 years as executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, a nonprofit that helps raise funds for the arts locally.
“You know, there are few things that could have lured me away from the Foundation, but this is one thing I found so exciting and challenging and full of great possiblities,” she says.
Nearly 70 applicants vied for the Partnership job, according to a press release sent out today, and were vetted by a search committee that consisted of representatives from local government, members of the Partnership, the Business Improvement District, the Downtown Development Authority, Community Ventures and others. After multiple interviews, a presentation and answering written questions, Edmondson won the job, and will start March 4.
Praise for the development ranged far and wide, from Mayor Steve Bach, to the Vradenburg Foundation, which writes in a press release today, “Susan has been an indefatigable champion of the arts, a visionary leader and dedicated partner as the foundation has advanced the excellence and impact of the arts in the Pikes Peak region over the past decade. She personally has exhibited much of the same passion and zeal as Bee Vradenburg herself...”
On Twitter, the consensus was similarly glowing.
@susanjed Congratulations on your new position!! You are already a great asset to downtown, this just makes it official :)
— SparrowHawk Cookware (@SparrowHawkCook) February 12, 2013
Congratulations @susanjed on your new role as CEO of Downtown #ColoradoSprings Looking forward to the upcoming #Awesomeness!
— John Olson (@JO_Urbanist) February 12, 2013
Edmondson has served on many local boards, including chair for the DDA, but took a leave of absence to apply. She has also chaired the boards of Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, CASA and the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum. Along with the DDA, she still serves on the CSPM board as well as the Colorado Springs World Arena board.
In addition, Edmondson co-founded the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR) and has even volunteered to help the DDA in its application to become an emerging creative district by Colorado Creative Industries.
For the future, Edmondson hopes to continue the Partnership’s mission to improve downtown and help it grow.
“I think the real similarity between arts and downtown is they bring people together for shared experiences, certainly we know that the arts are one of the real success stories of Downtown, but obviously this job involves much more than that as well. It really is bringing together lots of shared interests and finding alignment in various projects to move things forward downtown.”
She cites projects like the recommendations outlined by the Urban Land Institute Report, the proposed baseball stadium or a children’s museum.
“I think I was hired because of my passion and vision for downtown as well as my track record of actually getting things done. To me, there are so many great projects that are bubbling right now that all have so much potential.”
As far as an actual plan, Edmondson wants to make downtown more accessible to entrepreneurs and developers.
“My approach is more the way that we’ll do things. I want to make it easier to do business downtown.”
“Whether you’re doing a new residential development or you’re a mom and pop shop fulfilling a dream, we want to help streamline that process and make it easy for people to do great things downtown, be it a new festival, some new creative endeavor. We want to help make it happen.”
When asked about where she sees the Partnership in the future, Edmondson is similarly practical.
“To me, I’d say it’s less about growing, and more about accomplishing what’s in front of us," she says. "I think we have great assets already downtown, such as America the Beautiful Park, unique retail small businesses, great events and certainly great people. So now we need to harness all that to make even more good things happen and bring people downtown.”
As for the Vradenburg Foundation, Edmondson says the board there is working on how it wants to fill her position; an e-mail newsletter says it “will soon be soliciting resumes to fill the staff opening left by Susan’s departure.” Edmondson assures that the Foundation will continue on, donating money to local arts organizations.