A Marietta native has been hired as the new director of ReStore Marietta, a nonprofit that works to promote the downtown district.
Monday was the first day on the job for Jean G. Farmer, 53, who's filling the post held by former director Mallory Greenham for the last year and a half. Greenham resigned to take another position May 18.
"She's coming in at a really great time," Greenham said Tuesday. "Marietta is about to become a Main Street community, and Jean seems to be very passionate about her hometown. It's not an easy job, and I hope the community will welcome her with open arms."
A 1977 graduate of Marietta High School where she was student body president, Farmer moved to Charleston, W.Va., attended the University of Charleston, and earned a degree in interior design.
"I think that fits great with this job. There's a lot of historic preservation going on in downtown Marietta," she said. "I also worked 23 years in Charleston in the commercial design business."
Farmer later moved to Toledo, then to Columbus where she worked as a bank marketing director and became president of the Baltimore Chamber of Commerce near Pickerington.
Jean G. Farmer
Position: Director of ReStore Marietta.
Education: Graduate of Marietta High School and University of Charleston, W.Va.
Family: Husband, Matt Farmer.
"The chamber was a volunteer position, but I think it was good preparation for this post," she said.
She's also an artist who works in both painting and metal sculpture mediums. Some of Farmer's work in rusted metal sculpture has been on display at West Virginia's Tamarack facility near Beckley.
Since moving back to Marietta two years ago to help take care of her ailing father, Bob Given, Farmer has been working as a title researcher for a company that contracts with the oil and gas industry.
"But I was checking out my Facebook page one day and saw ReStore was in need of a director," she said. "After a lot of soul-searching I came to believe that I should take this position. It just seemed that my talents and interests had come together for this job."
ReStore Marietta board president Dave Schramm said taking over as director of ReStore Marietta can be a daunting task, but he believes Farmer is a good pick for the job.
"She has a lot of experience in business and the arts, as well as with nonprofits," he said. "We're very fortunate to have found her so soon after Mallory went on to bigger things. But Mallory has laid a great foundation for Jean and the board to build on."
Schramm said the board received resumes from several impressive candidates, but after interviews Farmer was chosen to take the post.
"On her very first day she had to deal with a full-blown board meeting," he said. "I know she'll do very well."
Farmer is spending her first few days in office making the rounds and getting to know ReStore partners and businesses in downtown Marietta.
But she's most excited that Greenham submitted a final application last month for Marietta to become a Main Street community, and a team from Heritage Ohio that oversees the state's Main Street program is slated for a visit to the Pioneer City later this month.
"Mallory's done a great job in putting this together and now Marietta's finally in line to become a Main Street community," Farmer said. "And I plan to stay that course."
The Ohio Main Street Program works with communities across the state to revitalize historic or traditional commercial areas, according to the Heritage Ohio website.
Based in historic preservation, the Main Street approach was developed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to save historic commercial architecture and the fabric of American communities' built environment, but it has become a powerful economic development tool as well.
Schramm said once the Heritage Ohio team makes its visit in late June, the next step will hopefully be to designate Marietta as an official Main Street community.
"At that time we'll probably transition our name from ReStore Marietta to Main Street Marietta," he said.