Blog: New BIA director deals with challenges

New BIA Executive Director Don Blakeney with BIA staff members, from left, Julia Nelson, and former BIA Executive Director Maribeth Ellis

“We are used to white females, not white males,” I said, jokingly, to the new executive director of the Chinatown/International District Business Improvement Area (BIA).

Don Blakeney was hired this month. Former director Maribeth Ellis left the agency to take care of her aging mother. The first BIA director was also a white woman.

Why should a white man lead the BIA? Some might carry the assumption that the board decided to choose a white man to represent the district for political reasons. If an Asian were picked, he or she might show favoritism toward certain ethnic groups.

The truth is, Don has many new ideas to make the ID a better community. He has experience working in New York City’s Times Square, dealing with issues similar to those facing the ID such as drug addiction, safety, and panhandling. He did not just show up at the interview. To demonstrate his knowledge and skills, he gave a PowerPoint presentation. Above all, he believes in the strengths of our community.

And yes, he loves Asian food. We had dim sum at the Jade Garden. And we served him congee with preserved egg. Most white people resist congee. Don gulped it up.

Don, you are formally accepted into the community.

What is one of the most immediate challenges he has to deal with?

“The negative reviews about the ID on the Internet,” Don said.

The problem with most people is that we like to complain and not bother to praise. Many of those criticisms are not really fair.

Folks, if you have positive experiences in our area, go on the Internet and rave on Yelp or Facebook. If your bad experience was a one-time encounter, please give the ID another chance. Don can show you how to experience the real ID! ♦

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One Response to “Blog: New BIA director deals with challenges”

  1. Jen Power says:

    Congrats to Don on the (now relatively) new job. He’s done some great work on Capitol Hill. I look forward to working with Don and the CIDBIA, especially with the new streetcar that’s coming to both our neighborhoods in the near future.

    ~ Jen Power
    Capitol Hill Community Council

    PS Congee is amazing! Happy to hear that Don has as good taste in food as he does in neighborhoods :)


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