The Pleasanton Downtown Association has announced the hiring of its new executive director, Bridget Karl, the former president and CEO of the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles County.
"I am honored to be here. I get a small-town feeling every time I walk into a business," Karl said in a statement from the PDA. "The local businesses shape the identity of Pleasanton's downtown; they reflect the history of this beautiful city and create relationships with the community, with local government, and are essential to the economy."
"I look forward to working with the PDA members and continuing their great work, making downtown a richly rewarding place to visit and shop," added Karl, whose first day on the job in Pleasanton was Oct. 24.
Karl worked for the chamber in the small town of Calabasas, which is on the outskirts of the Los Angeles area, starting back in 2007 and in various capacities, including an initial term as chief executive during 2012 to 2016. She returned to lead the chamber following a vacancy in 2019 to 2021.
"She served as the CEO of the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce for many years where she successfully grew the organization, developed and executed numerous events, worked closely with civic leaders and supported the members through networking and community events," according to the PDA.
Some of Karl's notable achievements include successfully partnering with the Special Olympics so Calabasas could become a host town for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games. The host town program was a three-day program where cities welcomed athletes and were responsible for the costs of hosting their delegations before the opening ceremony of the games.
According to the PDA, she has also been active in fundraising for causes such as The Avon Foundation Walk, a former annual breast cancer walk that ended in 2017; the Cancer Support Community, a nonprofit cancer support organization; and Maria's Birthday Wishes for the Homeless, a nonprofit that gifts treats like cupcakes to homeless people.
The news of Karl stepping into her new position comes almost one year after former executive director Zac Grant stepped down to pursue other opportunities after just seven months on the job. Former PDA leader Laura Brooks returned to her old position on an interim basis after Grant's departure last December.
Brooks, who led the association for 10 years until 2019, left the PDA not just to start her own consulting business but also to move to Alabama. She has been working with PDA members via Zoom during the past 10 months.
"We are so happy to welcome Bridget and look forward to her leading the PDA," PDA Board President Bryan Bowers said in a statement. "She brings with her a very strong background of nonprofit leadership and a great understanding of fundraising, special events and much more. We are excited for our members to get to know Bridget and for all the great things to come for the PDA."
One of the PDA's achievements in the last couple of years amid the leadership instability was the creation of the Weekend on Main program, which is when portions of Main Street are closed every first weekend of the month for easier pedestrian access to businesses and restaurants.
The PDA and the city first came up with the program to address COVID-19-related economic impact on local businesses.
This November's First Weekend on Main this Friday afternoon through Sunday will feature a downtown sidewalk sale from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday (Nov. 5), where businesses can take to the streets to kick off the holiday shopping season.