Alberta Main Street surges with new vitality and a renewed effort to develop Alberta Street as a successful and equitable commercial district.
That mission has always been core to the 11-year-old nonprofit. However, the 2018 passing of its dynamic founding executive director, Sara Wittenberg, was a shock. That, and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic left the organization with unsure footing.
Shortly before she died, the organization had been honored with a 2019 Great American Main Street Award.
Today there’s a revived energy among the board of directors. Alberta Main Street is back on track to build opportunities for local businesses and organize events to celebrate the street’s diversity and vigor.
Renewal on the street is in progress with new businesses opening, the return of Halloween day trick or treating and plans for the future. “Alberta Main Street is a nonprofit, but it should still be run as a business,” said new chair Devon Horace, whose career is in business leadership.
Devon moved to Oregon five years ago from New York state to join Nike as technical operations manager. Last year, he earned one of the last Concordia University master’s degrees in business leadership and management. He also directs Horace Consulting Agency to support Black, Indigenous and people of color who start mid-level companies.
He joined the Alberta Main Street board in June. “My thought process is ‘How can I make a difference as a young African American male in Portland?’”
Devon believes his identity and experience are a good fit for Alberta Street with its history as a predominately Black neighborhood.
Celebrating the area’s rich heritage and diversity remains a large focus. Plans for this month’s holiday event Dec. 5 include a Black Santa Claus in a pandemic-safe giant snow globe at the Alberta Main Street office.
“He’s not only for Black kids,” Devon advised. “This is more about representation and expanding upon imagination. Perhaps next year’s Santa will be Asian.”
Devon reported an increase in staff and volunteers is in the works, and the board’s priorities for the next three years are:
- Collaborating and outreach
- Increasing partnerships
- Supporting area businesses.
Woven into those priorities is continuing the strong relationships already established with the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Venture Portland and Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon.
For more information about Alberta Main Street’s mission, volunteer opportunities and more visit AlbertaMainSt.org.
“We’re back,” Devon said. “We’re here to stay, and we’re here to make things better.”
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.