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DHDC executive director resigns

7/25/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

The resignation of Downtown Hays Development Corp.'s executive director has started a conversation about the position and the future of the organization.

Megan Colson served 10 months in the leadership role. The opportunity to develop her other passions, such as her Colson's Photography business, shaped her decision, she said.

"I just personally have some other opportunities I want to look into pursuing and some other things I'm really passionate about I want to follow," she said. "And this kind of was the right time to do it before a big year of events and things happening."

Colson enjoyed her tenure with DHDC.

"I have absolutely loved my time there working with the market and all the businesses and people coming in," she said. "I'm very excited for downtown, and I will be a huge supporter for a long time."

The teamwork between local groups was something she enjoyed while coordinating events.

"I think we have a growing and budding community," she said. "There truly are a lot of wonderful people in our community who volunteer their time to see that we have great events downtown to bring people as well as collaborate with other organizations, whether that be the Chamber or businesses and nonprofits."

Colson plans to remain in Hays. Her resignation is effective immediately.

Stacey Smith, DHDC president, said the organization valued Colson's contributions.

"We have appreciated Megan's efforts and wish her all the best in her future endeavors," Smith said in a statement.

The board of directors now is seeking a replacement.

The city of Hays is invested in DHDC's success. The Hays City Commission has awarded the group $762,092 in subsidies since 2000, and DHDC has requested $53,655 for the 2015 budget, according to city records.

Mayor Henry Schwaller IV, a former DHDC board member, said he hopes the nonprofit identifies its long-term vision before choosing Colson's successor.

"Instead of hiring a new director immediately, I hope the board takes time to think about where the organization is going," Schwaller said. "Once it thinks about strategy over the next year to two years, it may or may not need a director. And it may find other opportunities working with other organizations."

Smith, however, said the group has a clear vision for the future.

"Absolutely we know who we are, where we want to go and we're going to make sure that we put the right person in place," she said.

Schwaller said the board's original mission has changed "substantially," and it could use the job vacancy to reconsider its role.

"Right now, the organization is really focused on downtown events, and I know that they're trying to transition to something that focuses on really getting people downtown, business recruitment, that sort of thing, which is a lot different from just being an event organization," he said.

"But they're struggling to do that," Schwaller said. "This will give the board a chance, with Megan's departure, to think about, 'How will we make these things happen, what elements and people are we going to need to have in place beyond an executive director to transition the way DHDC operates.' "

Smith said events are only one aspect of DHDC's advocacy efforts.

"We've been very fortunate with our directors in the past that we've had. They've all made great contributions and led our organization to do some great things," she said.

Those working for DHDC are confident in its future, she said.

"We are sound and strong, and we're confident with where we're going," Smith said. "We look forward to putting some really great initiatives in place, and we'll continue to help downtown grow in all sorts of ways."