LIBERTY — Jameson Howard steps into the role of Historic Downtown Liberty Inc. executive director May 26.
The recent William Jewell College graduate, who majored in non-profit leadership, applied critical thought and inquiry and business administration, is a familiar face already. In the fall 2019 semester, it was not uncommon to see Howard with the late Vicki Vance, the executive director through the more than a decade HDLI has existed.
“I started last August and put in a full semester with her,” he said. “I was able to work with Vicki and get to know some of her mindset. She would hit at me, asking me if I would want the role. By the middle of the school year, I knew it would be a great opportunity.”
Patrick McDowell, an HDLI board member and promotions committee chair, said the team is excited to have Howard on board.
“I worked with Vicki for nearly 12 years so change is hard but the fact that Jameson has been selected makes it a bit easier,” he said. “Vicki and the board identified him as a potential director in the fall of 2019 when Vicki considered retirement in summer 2020. While it didn’t work out like we had hoped, it’s exciting to see Vicki’s vision come true with Jameson.”
Rob Jones, the current board president, said Howard was identified by Vance early in his tenure.
“While working as our intern, we saw him as a really strong candidate to be a future executive director for a main street community,” he said. “His ongoing performance solidified Vicki’s initial assessment and it was clear we didn’t want to lose the opportunity to engage Jameson as our ED.”
Howard said he is honored the board has given him a chance.
“I got to observe and learn so much from Vicki,” he said. “I am so thankful for the time I got with her and I believe it helped prepare me to start this. I couldn’t have asked for a better role model, teacher and advocate.”
Vance, 71, passed away April 21. Vance taught for Liberty Public School District for 26 years. After that retirement, Vance then stepped into the role of HDLI executive director.
Howard grew up in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis. He sought out a small college and a chance to play golf which William Jewell offered.
“I want to jump in and give it my all,” he said. “I have a lot of energy and excitement. I have supporters here. Vicki left such a great impact and my plan is to keep that ball rolling. I am fortunate to come into the job.”
Howard said he plans to look at the many events HDLI does and see if there are additions or improvements that can be made.
“We want to grow as an organization,” he said. “A big part of the job is having the store owners and managers know me. I want them to know that we exist for them. I have been sending cards to the downtown business owners to offer a note of encouragement. I am inspired by Vicki’s approach and hope to continue that.”
McDowell praises Howard’s people skills.
“He has a can-do attitude and a steadfast commitment to downtown,” McDowell said. “We’ve seen that in his work with us over the last nine months. There’s a hope and a future for downtown after coronavirus and Jameson is going to do a great job transitioning us into the next chapter of our organization.”
Jones said people will see Howard’s strengths in communication and a genuine interest in the success of all the stakeholders in the Downtown Liberty Business District.
“The HDLI Board has purposefully moved towards Jameson’s youthful energy and new, fresh ideas,” he said. “We are looking forward to watching Jameson step up and lead Downtown back from the coronavirus to a vibrant and bustling downtown.”