Carrie Kelly Resigns as Director of Downtown Santa Barbara

Carrie Kelly, executive director Downtown Santa Barbara Organization | Credit: Paul Wellman

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State Street can’t catch a break, and the problems keep piling on ― online shopping, homelessness, overregulation, natural disasters, an absentee chamber of commerce, and a disruptive turnover of leadership at Downtown Santa Barbara (DSB), the organization in charge of promoting local businesses. Now, after just 15 months at the helm, Executive Director Carrie Kelly is resigning amid a global pandemic that’s shuttered nearly all State Street stores.

In a letter sent Monday to Wildcat owner Bob Stout, president of DSB’s Board of Directors, Kelly gave her two weeks’ notice and explained she had accepted a position with the Arizona Association for Economic Development. Kelly relocated in 2018 to Santa Barbara from Arizona, where she worked as a nonprofit consultant and director of the Mohave Community College Foundation. Kelly said the move back would bring her “closer to our families and friends who need us right now.”

“I believe it is also a good time for me to move on,” Kelly continued, “because DSB will face many budgetary challenges over the next year, requiring strong direction from the Board and perhaps a combining of efforts with similar organizations and leaning on your partners as you manage and build DSB’s budget.”

Prior to Kelly, Maggie Campbell led Downtown Santa Barbara. She abruptly resigned in 2018 after four tumultuous years that reportedly culminated in several heated arguments with city councilmembers. Kelly did not respond to requests for comment. According to the most recent tax filings for the nonprofit organization, the executive director position earns $124,238 a year.

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