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Head of White Rock BIA resigns, citing ‘opportunity I could not turn down’

White Rock Business Improvement Association’s executive director has resigned.

Jennifer Brandon made the announcement Monday afternoon; her resignation is effective April 20.

“I have so loved my time working within the White Rock business community. I was not seeking a position; I was offered an opportunity that, for the advancement of my career, I simply could not turn down,” Brandon states in a news release.

Brandon – who has been in her role for less than a year – told Peace Arch News she took a position as “marketing manager, lead generation” with Christianson & Company, an event and association management company in Vancouver.

“They reached out and I couldn’t say no,” she said.

The 41-year-old has been at the helm of the BIA for less than a year. She was announced as the new executive director last May 25. That announcement followed a quest to fill the role that began in August 2016, when former executive director Douglas Smith resigned after two years in the position.

Smith had taken over for Lyn Hellyar, who served for about a year.

Prior to Brandon’s hire, the executive director role was filled for two months by Alana Souter, then after Souter quit, by Russ Davies, who was executive director when the BIA formed in 2005.

Brandon – who said she plans to continue to live in White Rock – told PAN the high turnover is not the “scary story” that some may think.

“It really has all been kind of circumstantial, based on the people,” she said.

She described coming into the executive role last year as “challenging.”

“It was at a strange state, where the membership wasn’t necessarily as engaged as the board would like them to be,” she said. “It was great to… just get there and figure out what they need from us.”

Brandon said steps taken in her 10 months with the BIA have included a social-media campaign that told individual businesses’ stories; and, increased communication between the city and local businesses.

“I think they felt in the dark a lot,” Brandon said of BIA members.

In Monday’s news release, Ernie Klassen, president of the BIA’s board of directors, highlighted Brandon’s efforts to “reconnect our members.”

“We’re now in a position to continue moving forward,” he said.

“We’re very confident in our vision for the organization and know we are poised to move ahead without interruption to the services we provide our members,” Klassen states.

Asked what advice she has for the next executive director, Brandon said the role “really is about listening to the membership.”

The next three years will be particularly challenging for them, she added, pointing to ongoing and planned construction. People need to know that those businesses are still open and accessible, she said.

“It is going to be amazing, no doubt,” Brandon said of the end result of construction and revitalization efforts. “But in that interim, our businesses are going to suffer.”

Tracy Holmes

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