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updated: 9/7/2012 3:59 PM

Lombard Town Centre director ready to recruit, raise funds

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Lombard Town Centre's new executive director has a background in nonprofit work and fundraising, lives in downtown Lombard and says she's ready to get down to business as soon as she assumes the post Monday.

Michelle Iwinski, who is stepping down from her job as business manager for the Tri-Town YMCA in Lombard, said she is ready to lead the nonprofit downtown promotion organization by recruiting new businesses and organizing fundraisers.

"I'm going to hit the ground running because I don't have to ramp up and get to know the area," Iwinski said.

She takes over about six weeks after previous executive director Karen Stonehouse was let go. When the organization dismissed Stonehouse, publicity chairwoman Colleen Whittington said her skills and background in urban planning didn't match Lombard Town Centre's goals.

Iwinski was chosen from 10 applicants for her professionalism and experience with nonprofits, said Walter Smith, Lombard Town Centre president.

"I think it was her working with fundraisers and sponsorships that really helped with the direction we want to go in," Smith said. "Those were the key things we were looking for to really move us forward in the next couple years."

Two of the fundraisers Lombard Town Centre runs -- a wine and beer tasting night held for the first time in July, and an annual golf outing Sept. 14 -- are events Iwinski has run for the YMCA. She said that knowledge will carry into her new job, as will contacts from community organizations she has volunteered with, such as the Outreach House at First Church of Lombard.

"This is a nice progression from volunteer work I've done in the past years, a lot of it within a three-block radius of the center of downtown," Iwinski said.

Most of all, Iwinski said she's motivated to help downtown Lombard thrive because it's so close to home. She lives two blocks away from the heart of downtown, where Lombard Town Centre's office is at 102 W. St. Charles Road.

"This directly impacts me," she said. "I don't think you'll meet anybody who's skin is more in the game."

Iwinski takes over as two new businesses -- a deli affiliated with Shannon's Corner Butcher Shoppe and a wine-tasting bar -- are set to open soon. She said she plans to entice more to follow using retail and restaurant grants offered by the village as part of her pitch.

"I'd like to dig even beyond that to sweeten the deal if I can find other grants that are available," Iwinski said.

Meeting more downtown business and property owners and starting to develop leads for potential new shops are also high on her agenda.

Iwinski was hired to work 30 hours a week and will be paid from a village grant of $38,500. Lombard Town Centre will begin the process in October of seeking village funding for next year's budget.

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