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Board taps Holly Masek to be the next director of the RDA

Board taps Holly Masek to be the next director of the RDA

The board of directors for the Rochester Downtown Alliance has gone with a Harvard-educated urban planner as its next pick to lead the organization.

Holly Masek is set to take over as executive director on June 17. She will replace Sarah Oslund, who has served as interim director since last year. Oslund, like her predecessor Jenna Bowman, now works for the city.

Masek — whose education includes a bachelor’s degree in human geography from Boston University and a master’s degree in urban planning from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design — was selected following a nationwide search. While most of her experience has been in New England, Masek does have family and friends in the Midwest.

“Both Rochester and the RDA are at exciting moments of transition and opportunity,” said Masek, according to a news release. “The RDA’s mission of bringing vitality to downtown is more important than ever. I look forward to working with the RDA team, as well as the wider Rochester community, to shape the future of the organization together.”

In announcing the hire, Board Vice Chair Jeanine Gangeness cited Masek’s “premier educational background,” as well as her experience working with special service districts, as reasons for her selection.

Most recently, Masek worked in Boston for the Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, a private real estate investment firm that primarily deals with retail and office spaces. Her role, according to LinkedIn, was to “develop placemaking, community engagement, and tourism strategies.”

As head of the RDA, Masek will be responsible for a number of events, such as Thursday Downtown and SocialICE, as well as other downtown-focused initiatives. The organization reports to approximately 320 stakeholders.

Sean Baker is a Rochester journalist and the founder of Med City Beat.

Cover photo: Holly Masek / Submitted

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