Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Janyce “Jan” Hursey will be the new executive director of Summerville Downtown Restoration, Enhancement and Management (DREAM), the organization announced Tuesday morning.
Hursey has been serving as the interim executive director since May. Before that she worked as the assistant to the executive director for three years.
“Jan brings with her a wealth of knowledge and passion for downtown Summerville and her experience leading the organization during the past six months has been proven to be a valuable asset to the community,” said Brian Mitchum, DREAM board president.
The Board of Directors also announced on Tuesday the organization’s merger with Friends of Summerville DREAM, Inc., and subsequent name change to Summerville Dream, Inc. The merger goes hand-in-hand with DREAM’s switch to 501(c)3 tax status.
“This status will provide the opportunity to increase and strengthen the effort to promote downtown district on a larger scale,” Mitchum said.
According to Hursey, those opportunities come from benefits of the new tax status: the group will be eligible to apply for more grants, and financial contributions from donors will now be tax deductible.
Previously DREAM was a 501(c)6, another nonprofit classification, which Hursey said made the organization “totally dependent on city, county and state Accommodations Tax” allocations.
While DREAM is undergoing many changes, Hursey said they’re for the better.
“I’m very excited,” she said. “There’s a lot of good things on our horizon.”
Her goals for 2014 include educating the community on DREAM, successfully taking over the Sweet Tea Trolley Tours and putting more “feet on the street.”
Each of the goals feeds into DREAM’s overall mission, which is to support and enhance the quality of life in Summerville, starting in the historic downtown area.
“A lot of people [businesses] think they can’t be a part of Dream if they’re not in the historic downtown area and that’s just not true. We consider downtown the heart of Summerville and work our way out from there,” Hursey said.
The misconception is the driving force behind her goal to teach the public about the organization. She hopes the education will help increase foot traffic, what she calls a “feet on the street” movement.
Taking over the Sweet Tea Trolley Tours is another element of increasing foot traffic. Starting in February, DREAM will begin managing the trolley tours program and will begin by increasing tour dates to the first three Fridays every month. She said the new tours will also begin and end in the historic downtown area.
Despite the organization’s ambitious undertakings and wide reach, DREAM has what Hursey calls a “two-person office.” Hursey is the organization’s only full-time employee and works with two other part-time employees. But Hursey feels prepared; after all, she has a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism from the University of New Orleans.
“I started out my career on that path, and ended up taking a 20-year hiatus. But for the last four years I’ve actually been using that again,” she said.
What did she do during the 20-year gap? Hursey lived abroad, in the Shandong Province of the People’s Republic of China where she taught English as a second language at a university.
“I know enough Chinese to get myself in trouble,” she said with a laugh. “I could order at restaurants and get directions. They used to make fun of me when I traveled to big cities though – I learned the language in northern China so I had an accent and when I would talk the people there would laugh at my northern accent.”
Similarly to her favorite thing about teaching in China, Hursey said her favorite part of working for DREAM is the people.
“I just love working with all of the downtown retailers. We’re a close-knit family all working together to make Summerville more successful,” she said. “It’s fun to watch Summerville grow. Downtown is an ‘it’ place right now and we’re working to keep it that way.”