Kelly Everman returns to Downtown Frankfort Inc. as interim director

Kelly Everman is returning to Downtown Frankfort Inc. as the interim director. (Rosalind Essig/rosalind.essig@state-journal.com)

Downtown Frankfort Inc. (DFI) announced Friday that former director Kelly Everman is returning to serve as interim director while the organization searches for a new leader.

DFI Board President Harry Carver said Everman, who was the director from 2008 to 2011, will act as interim director for four months. Board members opted to bring in an interim director because they were not ready to post the position, he said.

“I think we’re really rethinking how we do things and how we go about doing our business downtown, so I think she’ll be an integral part of that process this summer. … In terms of hurrying up and hiring a permanent director — we wanted to make sure that we were putting the right person in the position for where we wanted to go,” Carver said.

Everman was selected because of her experience and reputation, Carver said. The need for a new director follows Kim Strohmeier’s departure in March. Carver said she will receive the same compensation, which is $37,000 annually.

As a former director himself, Carver said Everman’s perspective will be important as the organization re-evaluates itself.

“We’ve both had this discussion about looking back on having done this before, from the staff standpoint, how do we do things differently from where we are right now,” he said. “That’s an important piece of looking at how the organization functions.”

Everman is looking forward to coming back amid what she describes as DFI’s “evolution.”

She said she never expected to be back at DFI, even temporarily, and her first reaction was “no.” But she couldn’t turn away from her love for downtown Frankfort and the opportunity to be a “catalyst for positive change.”

“It takes a lot of courage to reflect, whether you’re doing it as an individual or whether you’re doing it as an organization,” she said. “To reflect on: where are we and what are we doing that works and what are we doing that could be fine-tuned. I just think that DFI is at a really interesting threshold.”

Everman said she’s in a unique position because she has history with the organization but has now had some distance from it, so she can offer her thoughts about what is effective as the organization goes forward.

“Everybody, on the outside, it’s so easy to look at it and say … ‘You should be doing this and you ought to be doing that as an organization.’ But once you’ve been in that position and you’ve lived it, you have a much better sense of what works and what doesn’t work,” she said.

The process of evolving will probably be messy, she said, but “that doesn’t scare me, that doesn’t scare me at all.”

One reason Everman is excited to be back at DFI is that downtown is in what she called a “really interesting, fertile time with lots of possibilities”  because of movement on some of the buildings.

She is also looking forward to collaborating with Frankfort/Franklin County Tourism Director Robin Antenucci, Kentucky Capital Development Corp. (KCDC) Director Terri Bradshaw and Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce Director Carmen Inman — who she said will be a great team of women.

“So, collaborating with those women that I respect is going to be fun,” she said.

As DFI looks at how to go forward, Carver said those organizations, as well as city and county governments, will be a part of the conversation.

Concern expressed by City Commissioner Robert Roach about DFI is “fair,” Everman said, because public officials are supposed to be critical of how efficiently their funding is used. She plans to attend the next city commission meeting on Monday to let the commission know that she’s back at DFI and ready to pick up the reins.

Everman said she left DFI in 2011 because she felt like she had done all she could with the organization at the time and wanted to move on to other things, especially creative endeavors. Since leaving, she self-published a collection of essays she wrote while she was living in Key West and led classes on the book “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.

“I have quite an entrepreneurial spirit that I have to feed every now and then,” she said with a laugh. “And while I love working as a team, I also enjoy doing some things on my own, where I’m creating things without any structure.”

Everman hasn’t ruled out the possibility of coming back on permanently at DFI. Her contract is for four months with possible extensions, she said.

“My reasoning for taking it on an interim basis was that I think DFI is in a process of going through some changes and evolution, and who knows how that’s going to pan out in the end,” she said.

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