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Head of MainStreet Roswell resigns

Kathy Lay says that she intends to remain in Roswell and to help her successor at MainStreet Roswell. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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MainStreet Roswell, a leading economic development organization in the city, is looking for a new executive director following Kathy Lay’s decision to resign.

Lay informed the board of directors a few days ago of her decision, and her resignation will be effective April 30.

She emphasized that she has appreciated the work with the nonprofit during the past four years, the support of the MainStreet board of directors and the partnerships she has developed with the city of Roswell and other organizations.

She also said that MainStreet Roswell is financially and organizationally strong.

“I am not leaving because anything negative has occurred, or anything with the board or the city or anything like that,” she said. “I honestly believe that we have a place where we are supposed to be and a purpose we are supposed to fulfill, and I feel that now is the time for me to find a new path.”

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She said that she plans to find an opportunity that will allow her to remain in the city along with her husband, James Lay. She said she can think of several possible future avenues, including in education or working with youth. Prior to joining MainStreet, she had been the preschool director and a teacher for Valley Christian Academy before it closed in July 2016.

Lay also said that she intends to stay involved with MainStreet Roswell, including as a resource of information and help to the new director.

“I want to make a transition and be as helpful as I can be to whoever takes the position,” she said.

The nonprofit’s executive director is the sole paid staff member. He or she handles an annual events and project budget of about $170,000, works with an eight-member board of directors and manages volunteers for events and projects.

The organization is known for arranging for Christmas lights and decorations in the downtown area and for coordination of such annual events as the Electric Light Parade, the Chile Cheese Festival and the Farmers’ Market.

Until this year, it also coordinated the popular UFO Festivals. This year, the event is being handled by a special events firm hired by the city of Roswell. MainStreet plans to participate by hosting downtown entertainment and coordinating a “passport program” to reward visitors to downtown businesses and stores.

Lay said the organization also is planning a move from the city building it now occupies near City Hall on North Richardson Street to the fourth floor of the J.P. White Building on West Third Street.

Juliana Halvorson, board president and a vice president and marketing director for Pioneer Bank, said the organization hopes to find a local person, someone “invested in the community.”

“Our goal is to get someone where they can give two weeks’ notice and still have training time available with Kathy,” Halvorson said. “She still said that, even if it takes longer, she would still be willing to step up and help them learn.”

Halvorson said the new person will have “big shoes to fill,” praising Lay for her organizational skills and mediation skills, among other abilities.

“We are hoping to have a personality like Kathy, very dynamic, outgoing, not shy,” said Halvorson. “Someone who is self-motivated, who can work without a lot of supervision, knows what the job is and does the needed tasks without being told.”

Halvorson said the position starts with a salary of $35,000, with the potential for an increase to $40,000 after six months.

MainStreet Roswell will mark its 38th anniversary this month. Its mission includes historic preservation of the downtown area and economic development efforts.

During Lay’s tenure, the organization regained national accreditation in 2019 from the Main Street America organization, enabling it to qualify for more funding and free assistance from technical experts associated with the Main Street network; obtained grants to redesign downtown storefronts; made national presentations about local events; and developed the concept and coordinated the funding and work to create a mural on the side of the International UFO Museum and Research Center.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.