Downtown Oak Park, a nonprofit taxation district for downtown businesses, has selected Shanon Williams as its new executive director, according to DTOP Board President Cindy Summers.

Williams succeeds Max Austin-Williams, no relation, who departed from the position in August after his husband relocated for a job in Sydney, Australia.

The DTOP district is a so-called Special Service Area that imposes a tax on property owners that is used promote business development in the area.

DTOP includes properties along Lake Street from Harlem Avenue to Forest Avenue and along Marion Street from Ontario Street to North Boulevard.

Williams, an Oak Park resident since 1989, started as a part-time marketing associate at DTOP in 2007 and has since been promoted to marketing director, according to a DTOP press release.

DTOP notes in the announcement that Williams has taken on increased responsibilities over the last decade overseeing “tremendous growth” in DTOP-related events, such as Thursday Night Out and Oaktoberfest.

“Taking on the executive director role is a natural next-step for Shanon as the organization’s mission is to promote business growth and development in the Downtown Oak Park business district,” Summers said in the press release. “I think she will bring a lot of energy to the position.”

Summers tells Wednesday Journal that DTOP received more than 30 applications for the position.

“She’s been very enthusiastic and pro-Oak Park and believes in the businesses in the area,” Summers said in a telephone interview.

When Summers opened her downtown shop, Sugar Fixé Patisserie, 119 N. Marion St., six years ago, she says half of the storefronts were empty. Williams’ and DTOP’s efforts “have made a significant difference in the vibrancy of the district,” she said.

Williams is a former Oak Park business owner who ran a children’s outwear business that included retail and wholesale sales, according to DTOP.

“I value this organization’s commitment to celebrate local businesses and the Oak Park community,” Williams said in the press release. “I have been honored to be a part of Downtown Oak Park’s development over the last decade, and I look forward to leading the organization into its next phase.”


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