GENOA – The woman who spent the last 8 years helping transform Genoa's downtown is taking her talents to a new role at Northern Illinois University.
Mim Evans, executive director of Genoa Main Street Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to revitalizing downtowns, is stepping down from her post to work as a full-time research associate with NIU's Center of Governmental Studies.
At her new job that starts in January, Evans said she will work with Illinois Main Street, the state's program to improving downtown areas. Evans will continue to volunteer with Genoa Main Street.
"This is an excellent opportunity for me to do the work I've been doing on a broader level," Evans said. "I'll take what I've learned and work with the Main Street community on a broader level."
Only the third executive director for the Genoa program, Evans has helped Genoa Main Street win seven state awards in four categories, including for fundraising programs, said Gordon Jones, Genoa Main Street volunteer and past board president. The organization has more than 100 volunteers and is led by an 11-member board of directors.
Evans also was instrumental in the introduction of the community ice skating rink, the expansion of the Open Air Market and the introduction of the Wet Paint Project in which volunteers painted downtown building fronts to give the community a fresh look, Jones said.
"She's always very positive and convincing her ideas would work," Jones said. "She's such a great person to work with. If not [for her], I wouldn't still be volunteering after all these years."
Jones has been involved with Genoa Main Street since its inception in 1996.
Linda Underwood, president of Genoa Main Street's board, said the organization already has started looking for a replacement.
Genoa Main Street would want someone who has strong administration skills and strong event planning skills, is able to write grant requests and press releases, and has strong interpersonal skills, Underwood said.
"This is a huge loss for us, but we're very happy for her," Underwood said. "The new job suits her."
Evans said Genoa Main Street is in a very good place and that she is not concerned with leaving her post as executive director.
"Genoa is such a great community," Evans said. "That's why we've been able to accomplish the things we've accomplished. People really care about the town."