Historic Downer Avenue Business Improvement District
Press Release

Downer Avenue Business Improvement District Names Commercial District Veteran Elizabeth Brodek as Executive Director


Elizabeth Brodek.

Elizabeth Brodek.

MILWAUKEE (April 13, 2020)Elizabeth Brodek, a longtime leader of local commercial districts in Wisconsin, has been named executive director of the Historic Downer Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), the board of directors announced today.

In naming Brodek, the board cited her strong background in organizational leadership and community development and her six years of experience with BIDs. Brodek is currently executive director of The East Side Business Improvement District, a position she will continue to hold while leading the Downer Avenue BID.

“It’s clear to us that we’ve identified the perfect leader for the Historic Downer Avenue Business Improvement District,” said Michael DeMichele, president of the Historic Downer Avenue BID Board of Directors. “Liz’s experience is unmatched, not only as the executive director of The East Side BID, but as a statewide leader in the BID and nonprofit communities.”

Brodek said she was undoubtedly joining the BID at a strange time with business activity severely slowed due to covid-19, but she says there is a lot to be encouraged about now on Downer.

“We’re extremely fortunate that so many of our businesses are still open right now,” she said. “This street truly serves the neighborhood, even now, with Sendik’s, CVS, True Value Hardware on Downer, Breadsmith, Downer Wine & Spirits, Associated Bank, and so many restaurants like BelAir, Henry’s, and Pizza Man, that are still open for take out and delivery. Not every area can manage to still be so active while physically distancing. It’s really heartwarming to see this neighborhood continue to thrive in such adverse times. And we’re only going to get stronger.”

Brodek said she was excited to be working for a district that she grew up visiting. “Growing up in Racine, I had family in Milwaukee who lived right off Downer,” she said. “My earliest memories of Milwaukee are of grocery shopping at Sendik’s, going to movies at the Downer Theater and shopping at boutiques in the area. It’s awesome and an honor to be a steward for the businesses I grew up going to. I’m excited for all the momentum we have here.”

As executive director of The East Side BID since October 2018, Brodek has been working with nearly 100 properties with a total value of more than $174 million, runs two signature events (Summer Soulstice and Tomato Romp) and created five new programs in her first year. She also serves as a resource and advisor for many other BIDs and BID directors across the state.

From 2014 to 2018 as executive director of the Wausau River District BID, Brodek flipped the organizational budget from relying on public funding to receiving a majority of funding from private contributions, increased staffing, and led the organization to the nation’s highest Main Street organization award. She previously worked in Eau Claire with four very diverse BIDs in the city’s downtown corridor and grew significant and meaningful partnerships around their signature annual festival, before feeling a pull back to southeastern Wisconsin to be closer to family.

Brodek succeeds Steph Salvia, who had been Downer Avenue’s Executive Director since DATE____.

Brodek currently serves on the Urban Ecology Center Riverside Park Advisory Committee, Wisconsin Downtown Action Council Board and is the Vice President of the Wisconsin Conservation Voices Board of Directors.

About the Historic Downer Avenue Business Improvement District (BID)
The Historic Downer Avenue Business Improvement District is one of Milwaukee’s most popular East Side business districts known for its great dining, shopping, movies, and annual events. The commercial corridor itself is about two-blocks long, consisting of mixed-use buildings that are home to a variety of specialty shops like a grocery and fine wine store, casual restaurants, an independent book store, and a movie theater. For more information, please visit downeravenue.com and like us at https://www.facebook.com/DownerAvenue/ on Facebook.

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