Jon Scholes, the V.P. of advocacy and economic development at the Downtown Seattle Association—the group that advocates for downtown businesses—has been chosen as the group's new president and CEO.
Longtime DSA directer Kate Joncas was tapped by Mayor Ed Murray to become deputy mayor last June.
Scholes has emerged as an outspoken and charismatic advocate for downtown density and transit (DSA has been part of the labor, social justice, and green coalition that's been pushing expanded Metro funding all year) and also as a proponent of an urbanist plan to connect the downtown waterfront to Capitol Hill's Pike-Pine district.
Scholes is currently on Murray's housing affordability task force and is a critic of the council's first pass at reforming affordable housing policy by levying a new fee on developers.
Today's announcement from the DSA says:
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with our board and lead the only organization focused on making Downtown Seattle the premier place to live, work, shop and play,” said Scholes. "The City of Seattle’s success is inextricably linked to the health of our urban core, which makes DSA’s work to dramatically improve our public spaces and the urban experience, and to attract new investment and development, so vitally important. I feel very fortunate to live in the heart of the place I love, and to lead the organization that has a nearly 60-year history of shaping its future."
Today’s announcement comes following an extensive four-month search process which identified a number of exceptional candidates locally and nationally. The process was led by a CEO selection committee consisting of DSA Board members Barbieri, Zahoor Ahmed, Patrick Callahan, Mark Houtchens, Jane Lewis, Jack McCullough and Carla Murray. The committee also retained the services of the international executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart, a firm involved in a number of other recent high-level executive searches in the region.
“Jon takes the DSA helm at a point when the association is healthier than ever – membership is at an all-time high, a new office is fostering stronger staff and community collaborations, a seasoned team of staff and board leadership is securely in place, and is collectively poised to take DSA and Downtown Seattle to the next level,” added Barbieri.
DSA has nearly 600 corporate and non-profit member organizations, more than 800 residential members and 120 staff serving the association, and its affiliate organizations Commute Seattle and the Metropolitan Improvement District.
The DSA is unusually liberal for a business organization—distinguishing it from the more conservative Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, whose own head Maud Daudon abstained from voting on the $15 minimum wage as a member of Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee because her membership couldn't agree to support the proposal.