Kelly Kruse

The Downtown Racine Corporation hired a new executive director to lead the local non-profit.

Kelly Kruse, a former advertising account executive with the Journal Times, is assuming the role effective immediately, according to a press release. She replaces Devin Sutherland, who served in the position for the past 14 years.

Downtown Racine works heavily with local merchants, helps businesses find locations and organizes events downtown like Party on the Pavement. As executive director, Kruse will oversee these operations and meet with city and county government

Kruse worked in her role at the Journal Times for 13 years and has and holds a Master’s of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse. She also served on the Downtown Racine board.

“It was important we found somebody with local ties and a local feel for Racine,” James Venturini, chairman of the board, told Racine County Eye.

The board intentionally cast a small net for the position, Venturini said. And Kruse stood out having already worked with a number of the downtown merchants in her position at the Journal Times.

“We currently have phenomenal momentum in downtown,” Venturini said in a press release. “Racine and we are confident that she will be a great partner to our Board, the merchants and businesses of downtown, and all of our other key stakeholders in continuing economic growth in downtown.”

In a released statement, Kruse said she plans to use her experience with “fundraising,marketing and event planning” to further the successes of downtown.

“DRC is focused on attracting new businesses to downtown Racine to compliment our current core,” Venturini said. “And Kelly will be the perfect person to help us accomplish that.”

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.