SKOWHEGAN — Jennifer Olsen, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan, has been named the new executive director of Waterville Main Street.

She takes over Oct. 8.

“The opportunity to work with a larger Main Street program that’s in a different stage of its development is a good opportunity for me professionally,” Olsen said Tuesday.

She added, “I’ve had fun here in Skowhegan.”

Olsen came to the Skowhegan organization in March 2010.

Successes in Skowhegan have included developing a downtown strategic plan, leading and implementing a community-wide branding initiative and helping the town secure a $400,000 in Communities for Maine’s Future grant to redesign the pedestrian walkways in downtown.

“For me doing the branding for the town was a great experience to get us in the habit of giving positive messages about ourselves,” Olsen said. “It was very powerful to go through that process and see the community rally about that.”

Emilie van Eeghen, president of Waterville Main Street, said Olsen was one of 30 applicants who applied for the position.

“Jen clearly has first-hand knowledge of the Main Street program and the experience necessary to step into the executive director position and continue the good work of our organization,” van Eeghen said in a release. “We feel very fortunate to have found such an outstanding candidate and we look forward to working with her.”

Waterville’s outgoing executive director, Shannon Haines, said she has worked with Olsen during the last two years and found her to be professional and effective, as well as creative and fun to work with.

“I think she is going to be a wonderful fit for our community,” Haines said.

Olsen and Haines worked together to bring consultants Arnett Muldrow to central Maine to develop community branding for both Skowhegan and Waterville.

Olsen said she looks forward to the challenge of moving from a community of about 9,000 to one with about 16,000 residents. She said under Haines, Waterville’s organization has made good progress as a Main Street program community.

“Shannon’s leadership inspires all of us who are involved in this work, the community is very engaged in strong collaborations, and that’s really healthy,” she said. “Although I will miss working in Skowhegan and with the fantastic people who have supported Main Street while I worked there, it’s still my home and it’s ready to grow in new ways.”

Gene Rouse, president of Main Street Skowhegan, said the board will announce its transition strategy in the coming weeks.

“Jen has built a great foundation for the organization, and put us in a good place to move forward,” Rouse said. “We are sad to see her go and are happy for her in her new endeavor.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

 

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