Thomas will take the helm of public-private nonprofit
By Sam Catanzaro
The Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) Board of Directors has selected Andrew Thomas, to return as CEO. Thomas, who for the past decade has led the Westwood Village Improvement Association, will take the helm as the downtown Santa Monica area faces a range of issues including high vacancy rates and public safety concerns.
Thomas replaces outgoing CEO, Kathleen Rawson. He will now lead the public-private nonprofit, which works in tandem with the City of Santa Monica to manage services and operations in Downtown Santa Monica and the Third Street Promenade. Thomas will take the helm as vacant storefronts and public safety concerns trouble the area.
“The Board is excited to welcome back Andrew Thomas, whose wealth of experience in the placemaking industry and deep understanding of the core values of Santa Monica will allow him to make an immediate impact in DTSM,” said Barry Snell, Chair of the DTSM Board of Directors. “We trust Thomas will help the Board as it embarks on a thorough reassessment of the organization’s programs so we can continue to best serve our community, the property owners and businesses.
Thomas brings over 20 years of experience to the role, including serving as the director of operations for DTSM from 2001 to 2010 when it was known as The Bayside District.
In selecting Thomas, the Board said it was “confident it has found a progressive, transformative and coalition-building leader to serve as its next CEO and solidify DTSM’s position as one of the most renowned Business Improvement Districts in the industry.”
As CEO Thomas will now have to navigate the many challenges facing the area, including a Promenade plagued by vacancies and public safety concerns driven largely by the homeless crisis.
“It is an exciting time to be an urban placemaking professional, as our expertise and leadership has never been more needed given the challenges our traditional city partners are facing,” Thomas said. “Downtown Santa Monica, and particularly the Third Street Promenade, remains an economically vibrant, welcoming, diverse and innovative district with so much to offer. I am confident that with the support of the DTSM Board, the City and our many stakeholders, we can make great things happen and continue to be the envy of other cities across the globe.”
Prior to returning to DTSM, Thomas was the founding executive director of the Westwood Village Improvement Association (WVIA) for the past 11 years, executing the non-profit organization’s mission to make Westwood Village a clean, safe place through maintenance, security and programming. Thomas managed a budget of $1.7 million annually from assessments on 120 properties within the District. Thomas is also the past president of the California Downtown Association and former Chair of the Los Angeles Business Improvement District Consortium. He is a graduate of Tulane University.