The Kirkland Downtown Association (KDA) recently announced that after five years, executive director Barbie Collins Young is resigning to pursue other passions, but will remain involved with the community.
Young has lived in Kirkland since 1990 and has deep roots within the community. Her position will be filled by the KDA board president Jim Kress and part of the responsibilities will be split off into a new full-time events manager position, filled by Tessa Hanson.
“It was five years ago when I accepted the position as the events and development manager for the KDA,” Young said. “That was a part-time position when I started and then it became full-time when I took on the role of director and executive director.”
Hanson served the KDA last summer as the Kirkland Wednesday Market manager and “won kudos for her work growing the market and her energy she brought to all the events,” according to a KDA press release.
Young leaves the KDA on good terms and with a “great working relationship” with the board of directors, according to the release. Young worked as the face of the KDA during her time there and said her favorite part of the job was working with the community.
“I chose this time as the KDA is now in a strong position to continue to move forward with the same momentum,” Young said about stepping down as executive director. “I feel confident in the KDA staff and board of directors to continue to grow the organization as the Kirkland downtown expands with the addition of Kirkland Urban. I am ready to focus more of my energy on other pursuits.”
She added that her proudest accomplishments at the KDA includes being able to organize a dedicated team of about 500 volunteers and implementing creative ways to bring local business owners together.
“There was a big learning curve to understand and a lot going on,” Young said. “My role was to really manage all the events, implement new ideas and creative ways to make them better.”
KDA board members praised Young’s work for the community, partially crediting the nonprofit’s success to Young’s enthusiasm and leadership.
“For five years Barbie Collins Young has been invaluable as the executive director of the Kirkland Downtown Association and we are a far better organization for her leadership,” board member and Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet said in the release.
“Barbie Collins Young brought effusive energy to the KDA. Whether rallying volunteers or working with the board, Barbie was always upbeat,” board member Glenn Peterson added.
Young is equally proud of the KDA as an organization, saying she’s confident it will continue to grow with its current momentum. She added that locals should realize many downtown events are hosted and organized by the KDA, not the city itself — including Kirkland Wednesday Market, Kirkland Wine Walk, Kirkland Art Walk, Celebrate Kirkland, the summer concert series, classic car show, Winterfest and Santa’s Mailbox.
“I know that everything is going really well,” Young said. “We’ve got some incredible people we’ve hired on and an incredible board of directors, so I feel very confident in that. And I had to feel that confidence, that things would keep on operating and moving forward in a way they have been.”
While Young moves on from her official role with the KDA, she plans to continue being involved with the Kirkland business community and helping out as much as she can.
“I won’t be too far away, I’ll still have my heart and my hands with the KDA and the community itself,” Young said. “I’ll find my fix in some way because it does feel good.”