As soon as Jenée Padmore, the new Executive Director of the Clarendon Alliance, established her work email, she “hit the pavement” to meet local business owners.
In these conversations, she learned that “there is still some lack of clarity on what the Alliance is,” Padmore told ARLnow. “What we want to be able to do is let people know that we are here to be a voice for the community.”
About 50 businesses are members of the Alliance, a voluntary organization that promotes the neighborhood and its amenities while connecting individuals and businesses in Clarendon to each other and the rest of the county.
“We’re not just an organization that benefits businesses, but also people who live in Clarendon,” Padmore said.
A veteran special events planner, Padmore will also organize the Clarendon Day street festival — a yearly tradition that went virtual last year — and host events supporting Clarendon’s businesses and residents. She anticipates reincorporating in-person initiatives as the weather warms and people feel comfortable going out.
Padmore also wants to review the ideas that her predecessor, Elizabeth Crocker, could never realize due to COVID-19.
“Our goal is to back up look at all these things we were trying to accomplish and see if there are ways to implement them in this coming year,” she said. “These engagement opportunities will have to be innovative because we can’t have large-scale events and we know people are Zoomed out.”
Other approaches may have to be old-school, as Padmore said the Alliance needs to reach businesses and neighbors offline as well as online.
That is in her wheelhouse, having developed a regional census initiative to educate hard-to-count populations. Padmore also executed coronavirus relief for businesses in Northern Virginia and was an economic development associate for the Town of Vienna and the NoMa Business Improvement District.
“Jenée brings a wealth of experience in community organizing, economic development, nonprofit management, and event production,” said Scott E. Pedowitz, President of the Clarendon Alliance Board of Directors. “We are looking forward to working with a leader of her caliber.”
Ultimately, Padmore envisions partnerships among the Alliance, civic groups and businesses that lift up Clarendon.
“We are an urban village, and in a village, we all assist each other,” she said. “When you develop that sense of community… residents see it, visitors see it, and it attracts more people to the community.”
Photo courtesy Jenée Padmore