After seven months leading the Pleasanton Downtown Association, Zac Grant stepped down last week from his role as executive director "to pursue another opportunity," he confirmed to the Weekly on Tuesday.
"Although my tenure in Pleasanton was brief, it has been both pleasant and productive during a very challenging time," Grant said in an email.
"Because resources are still scarce at PDA, it was the right time to depart both for the organization and for me," Grant said. "I look forward to continuing my support for PDA through friendly advice, volunteer support and good wishes always."
During his time as executive director, Grant said the association "began a process of navigating the COVID era toward a new normal, including foundations for longer term programs such as Weekends On Main and table service in outdoor parklets on Main Street," and that he is "grateful to the board, the membership, and our partners at the city of Pleasanton."
While the search for Grant's replacement is underway, the PDA's former longtime executive director Laura Brooks -- who changed her last name from Olson after getting married -- is returning to her old position on a temporary basis.
Grant was hired to lead the PDA in May after former executive director Tiffany Cadrette -- who held the position for nearly two years after Brooks' departure -- resigned to take a marketing role with the Alameda County Fairgrounds.
Brooks told the Weekly that she's been involved with the PDA for the past six months, and said Grant specifically asked if Brooks would take over for now. "I'll be available to train whomever they hire, but I'm definitely not coming back (permanently)," Brooks said.
That's not only because Brooks started her own consulting business after leaving the PDA in 2019, following a 10-year run overseeing the association, but also because she now lives in Alabama.
Despite not being able to handle business in person, Brooks said there's currently two staff members on site acting as "boots on the ground," and that her decade of experience should also help while the PDA searches for a new permanent leader.
"I've been a part of it for the last six months, so I'm not coming in cold, which is what I think has made this doable," Brooks said. "We're making sure businesses know the PDA is fully operational and behind them."
Brooks added, "Obviously COVID showed us that we can work from wherever pretty successfully. Being able to work on certain projects -- the parklets, Weekends on Main -- doing that is not difficult for me, I was the executive director for 10 years, so those relationships still stand. And again it's just for the interim; this would not be feasible for the long term, of course."
PDA Board Director Terri Terry said that Brooks "knows the business inside and out. We are very fortunate that she has time to take this project on."
According to Terry, the executive director position will open up next month, with interviews expected to start in February and someone hired by March.
The PDA is looking for a very seasoned leader, Terry said, and "we are definitely going to be looking at somebody who has an executive director with nonprofit experience, and somebody that has a track record."
Though an ideal candidate would be "somebody local, that already knows our city and how our city operates, it's not mandatory that they be from Pleasanton," Terry said. "We just really want somebody that is qualified to do the job."