New HDLI executive director dives into role

Danelle O’Connell can be seen in downtown Liberty with her detailed day planner, sunglasses and water bottle. O’Connell is the new Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc. executive director.

LIBERTY — Danelle O’Connell joined Historic Downtown Liberty, Inc. as executive director. In the past few days, it has not been uncommon to see O’Connell visiting local businesses and chatting with staffs. In the next few weeks, she will meet with leaders from various organizations such as Clay County African American Legacy Inc.

“One of my biggest passions,” she said, “is to see community mobilization. I am thrilled with grassroots volunteers and the relationships that can be built. That’s one of my goals, is to see those relationships build even more. I’m here to own this position.”

O’Connell is HDLI’s third executive director. For more than 10 years, Vicki Vance served in the role. She passed in April 2000. Her successor came in the form of former intern Jameson Howard, who took on the role for about 18 months.

HDLI Board President Aimee Gray said O’Connell comes to Liberty by way of the Parkville Main Street program, where she helped create successful downtown events.

“She is very enthusiastic and is excited to help take HDLI to the next level,” Gray said.

O’Connell also served as director for the Selling to the World Initiative in Eastern Kentucky, which paved a pathway for artisans to become successful entrepreneurs by employing a comprehensive approach that includes education and daily hands-on mentoring in entrepreneurship, business plans, internet sales and marketing, advertising, inventory management and production strategies.

“Kentucky was such a challenge to take that incubator forward,” she said. “I love the start-ups. At the incubator, it was about teaching the artists and crafters how to market themselves and their products, how to price them, even how to use the computer. It was about giving them the tools to use.”

O’Connell’s name may also be familiar to some in the region as she also served as prevention coordinator for Tri-County Mental Health Services. She managed coalition teams to reduce underage drinking across three counties. Family brought her back to the Northland.

“My goals right now are to continue to meet people within the city, county, William Jewell College, the chamber, education here and more,” she said. “I want to get to know our brands and the brands of those around us. It’s about listening and learning first. My mind spins with all that can be done. I look forward to bringing people together to talk and listen as well.”

Southeast Editor Kellie Houx can be reached at kellie.houx@mycouriertribune.com or 389-6630.

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