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updated: 7/26/2012 11:28 AM

Lombard Town Centre looking for new leadership

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The organization that promotes downtown Lombard fired its executive director, saying new leadership is needed to best execute its plan to bring more shops and services to the area.

Lombard Town Centre Executive Director Karen Stonehouse was dismissed this week after the nonprofit group's board decided there are differences between her strengths and their goals for the position, Colleen Whittington, publicity chairwoman, said.

"The direction that Lombard Town Centre is going in and Karen's forte really wasn't meshing," Whittington said.

She said the organization wants its executive director to focus most on bringing new businesses to Lombard's downtown, centered around St. Charles Road, Park Avenue and Main Street.

During Stonehouse's two years leading Lombard Town Centre, eight new businesses -- including a butcher shop, coffee shop, dance apparel store, cabinet shop, hair salon, marketing and graphic design firm and two photography studios -- made their homes in downtown Lombard.

"We accomplished some good things in downtown Lombard and got a bit of momentum going," she said.

A deli and a wine-tasting bar are coming soon.

"We've done a great job so far with filling some of the vacancies and we really need to focus on that," Whittington said.

While its plan for promoting downtown Lombard evolves, Lombard Town Centre President Walter Smith said the organization is actively seeking its next day-to-day leadership. Whittington said a handful of candidates, including some from Lombard, already have been interviewed in the hopes of hiring Stonehouse's successor by mid-August.

Stonehouse said she was surprised by the board's decision but wishes the best for downtown Lombard business operators.

"I have a generally positive feeling about the job I did and the downtown community itself," Stonehouse said. "It was rewarding because you're helping people and you're helping a place."

The next executive director will be hired for 30 hours a week, just as Stonehouse was, using $38,500 in funding from the village. The group received a $3,500 increase over last year's funding after convincing trustees to continue supporting a part-time executive director to lead downtown revitalization efforts.

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