Jane grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, so small that her father was the mayor, a high school teacher, a football coach, a bus driver for the football team, and an honorary police officer—often simultaneously.
Since this article was published, Jane has officially accepted the role of President and CEO of Downtown Van.
“It was an ideal place to grow up,” says Jane. “The kind of town where it was the norm to disappear for hours in the summer with a pack of neighbourhood kids on bikes only to return home for food or when dusk had fallen.”
At 19, Jane left her hometown and moved to Ithaca, New York, to attend college. “Although 45 minutes from home, Ithaca was a world away,” she explains. “I’ll never forget my grandmother calling to tell me she prayed for me every night that I was in the “big city” even though the non-student population at the time was only 30,000.” Jane ended up living in Ithaca for eight years. While there, she developed a passion for service and advocating for issues important to the community.
Jane has since found her way to Vancouver, where she is the Interim President and CEO of Downtown Van. “I have worked for Downtown Van for five and a half years and previously held two roles in other organizations that were within the current boundaries of our BIA, so the majority of my career has been downtown,” she says.
Downtown Van is a non-profit organization that represents 7,000 businesses and property owners in the central 90-block area of Vancouver’s downtown core—supporting them and making Downtown Vancouver a place where everyone feels welcome drives them. The team members are economic development, community safety, placemaking, and events experts. They’re passionate about making Downtown Vancouver a destination like no other.
“Vancouver is the perfect city for me,” says Jane. “I love that it can be both gritty and graceful and feel at home here. Specifically, I like how walkable Vancouver is.” Jane enjoys visiting local businesses and getting to know those running and operating them. “Joe from Mangez Mangez is my newest friend,” she kids. “I have become addicted to their Conquita wrap; it’s so good!” Additionally, Jane enjoys grabbing coffee at local cafés and sipping her drink while watching the seaplanes take off and land in Coal Harbour.
“As I previously mentioned, I am passionate about serving my community, and it is a critical time to work in Downtown Vancouver. There is no shortage of need, but there is so much to look forward to,” says Jane. The team at Downtown Van lives and breathes Downtown Vancouver, and how the downtown core moves forward as a community dominates every one of their discussions. “Whether it is revitalizing Granville Street, advocating for businesses large and small, working with partners to improve safety downtown, helping to bring workers back to the office, or working with the city to reduce barriers associated with doing business in Vancouver, we’re all in,” she says.
Downtown Van is also committed to creating a fun, vibrant, and inclusive downtown experience that entails activating public spaces, delivering events like Summer Movie Nights and the Granville Block Party, and sponsoring 50 festivals and events. “Looking further down the road, we’re also motivated by working with partners to host upcoming large-scale events such as the Invictus Games in 2025 and the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” she says.
When asked about some of the highlights of running Downtown Van thus far, Jane replied, “I can’t answer that question without first mentioning how fortunate I was to have worked under the leadership of Charles Gauthier, the Association’s CEO from 1992 to 2021. I add the opportunity to work with incredible Board Chairs and Board Members and an incomparable staff team.” A more recent highlight for Jane was seeing the first cruise ship return to Canada Place post-pandemic. “That ship represents so much,” she says. “It reminded us of what we had been through—a symbol of hope, resiliency, and promise. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.”
You can learn more about Downtown Van right here on our website!