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Downtown Association of Santa Cruz Board Appoints Interim Director and Initiates Downtown Strategic Planning Process

The Board of Directors of the Downtown Association of Santa Cruz voted unanimously at its regular meeting in June to appoint Abra Allan as its Interim Executive Director and to engage in a joint public/private planning process to explore strategic opportunities and management structures for the administration of downtown management, marketing, advocacy, hospitality, cleaning, maintenance and other services. 

Allan recently stepped down as Executive Director of Motion Pacific Dance after a ten year run, initially as the owner, and ultimately, after converting the organization to a not-for-profit organization, as Director. Prior to, and concurrent with, her tenure at Motion Pacific, Abra founded and produced Dance Week Santa Cruz, one of downtown’s most anticipated and beloved annual events. She is also the co-director of First Friday Santa Cruz.

“I have known Abra Allan since 2009” recounts Valerie Moselle, Acting Downtown Association Board Chair and Co-Founder of  Luma Yoga, Inc. “More recently, I have had the privilege to see her in action professionally as our two businesses have come into partnership in support of Dance Week, and in coordination with First Friday events. Her commitment to our community is strong, and her experience working in the Downtown as a business owner and as an event producer are ideally suited for the role. She has all the skills we need to guide us through the transitional period over the next year. I am greatly looking forward to working with her.”

Allan will be serving in a limited and focused capacity, working with and supporting the existing Downtown Association board and staff as well as managing the administration of a strategic planning partnership with the Downtown Association, the Downtown Management Corporation and the City’s Economic Development Department. The forthcoming strategic plan will provide guidance and direction for Downtown program management as well as inform future staffing needs. Upon the completion of the strategic plan, Allan will assist the Board of Directors in the Executive Director search process. 

“I am excited and honored to be appointed as the interim director of the Downtown Association” says Allan. “especially at such an important time, as the community looks toward the future of Downtown Santa Cruz. I am hopeful that my extensive experience in community building and group facilitation, as well as my longstanding relationships in the Downtown business and leadership communities will provide a strong foundation for the work ahead.”

Looking Forward

The City Economic Development Department has engaged with Progressive Urban Management Associates (P.U.M.A.), a national leader in downtown and community development, to engage community members and stakeholders in a strategic plan for Downtown Santa Cruz. PUMA has 30 years of experience in Downtown district strategic planning, Business Improvement District formation and renewal, and equitable communities strategy.

“After reviewing proposals from a number of the top Downtown strategy consulting firms in the country, PUMA was a clear choice given their vast applicable experience in the field and their strong commitment to inclusive community engagement.” says Bonnie Lipscomb, The City’s Economic Development Director, “We are excited to work with their team to bring best practices in downtown operations to Santa Cruz.”

The strategic planning process will begin this summer and include several points for community and stakeholder input over a five to six month period. A report with strategic recommendations will be presented in early 2020.


Abra Allan can be contacted at or at 332-7422— x6

For Business Membership or Operations matters contact Sonja Brunner at or 332-7422 x3

For Marketing and Events matters contact Marina Toft @ or 332-7422 x 5

About the Downtown Association
The Downtown Association is a not for profit organization funded, primarily through an assessment of Businesses in the Downtown District. The organization is charged with promoting and advocating for Downtown Santa Cruz and manages a number of programs including downtown events, marketing promotions, the Downtown Information Kiosk and the Downtown Ambassador Program.

About the Downtown Management Corporation
The Downtown Management Corporation is funded by an assessment of Downtown property owners on Pacific avenue and one block east and west. The Assessment provides funding for the Downtown Ambassador program, as well as uncle poop waste removal and other programs focused on a clean, safe and welcoming Downtown.

About the Economic Development Department
The Economic Development Office is your go-to resource for all things business in Santa Cruz. From guiding new businesses in setting up shop, to navigating the permitting process, from helping large-scale infrastructure projects move forward to helping grease the wheels of the business community, they are passionate about supporting a flourishing and expansive local economy. Seriously, they’re there to help.

About Progressive Urban Management Associates
Known for their market-based planning approach and ability to stimulate inclusive community engagement, they care deeply about their clients and the communities in which they live, work and thrive. their team values long-term relationships with downtowns, commercial districts and neighborhoods – large and small. They embrace the opportunity to spark the ideas that make a place more vibrant while retaining the characteristics that define it as the unique place it is. Their plans are crafted with realistic and implementable strategies to take clients to the next level.

“Progressive Urban Management Associates’ visionary and tactical thinking about urban place management was instrumental in the successful completion of our Downtown Berkeley strategic plan and district management plan.”  John Caner, CEO, Downtown Berkeley Association