Portland Downtown, a nonprofit that strives to keep downtown Portland thriving, has appointed Cary Tyson as its incoming executive director.

Before moving to Maine, Tyson served as executive director for the Washington State Microenterprise Association and director of Main Street Arkansas. Since 2017, he has served as the director of economic and community development for the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments.

Cary Tyson is the incoming executive director of Portland Downtown. Photo by Dero Sanford

Tyson brings a wide-ranging background in downtown revitalization, public service, community development and partnership-building to his new role, according to a news release issued Thursday. A sought-after consultant and recipient of numerous of awards for leadership and innovation, Tyson holds a master’s degree in public administration and is a certified volunteer manager.

An executive search committee led by Portland Downtown board chair David Packard and comprised of board members and community leaders, was created last fall to steward the nationwide search for a new executive director, it said.

“We are so excited to welcome Cary Tyson as the leader of Portland Downtown,” Packard said in the release. “His background in downtown management, economic development and urban placemaking will be a great asset to our organization and to the downtown community we serve.”

Tyson said he is looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

“Portland Downtown’s mission is more important now than ever,” Tyson said in the release. “I look forward to working with our staff, board, business & property owners, and nonprofit partners to ensure that our community – even in the midst of great uncertainty – remains vital and vibrant. I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that has, and always will, create positive change.”

Tyson will assume the role of executive director on Tuesday, replacing Casey Gilbert, who has led the organization since 2015.

Gilbert said her contract with Portland Downtown was coming to an end in June, and that she recently earned a Ph.D. in public policy from the University of Southern Maine, so she decided to “embark on an entrepreneurial adventure” and launch a consulting practice. Her new business is called PowerWith Consulting and will be based in Melbourne, Florida.

“(I) will be able to work with clients all over the United States and abroad, remotely,” she said. “I’ll also be exploring opportunities to teach at local colleges and universities in the Melbourne area.”

Portland Downtown, a nonprofit downtown improvement district, said it strives to stimulate a thriving, vibrant and sustainable downtown community.


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