SANTA MONICA (December 21, 2021) — Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM) has announced that after 25 years with the organization, CEO Kathleen Rawson is stepping down from her role on January 21 to assume her new role as CEO of The Hollywood Partnership.
Since joining DTSM as CEO in 1997, Rawson has been a steadfast and influential leader, guiding the non-profit organization that oversees the world-famous Third Street Promenade and surrounding neighborhood to the forefront of urban place management, successfully transforming the district into the largest property-based assessment district in the state of California with a budget of just over $10 million annually. Under Rawson's leadership, DTSM established award-winning enhanced hospitality and maintenance services and a comprehensive marketing and special events program to ensure that the Promenade remains one of the most celebrated public spaces in the world and Downtown Santa Monica continues to grow into a diverse, economically vibrant, safe and welcoming place.
"It has been an absolute privilege to serve this incredible community for the last 25 years. I am immensely proud of the work we have done at DTSM and would like to thank all those who I have had the pleasure of working with along the way," said Rawson. "It has been my honor to serve alongside the many DTSM staff and board members, businesses, property owners, and citywide partners that have been dedicated to this community during my time here. I look forward to my next adventure in Hollywood but will miss Santa Monica dearly."
During her tenure, Rawson consistently enhanced the organization's annual event series through culturally relevant live entertainment and an expanded public art program, including celebrations of Día de los Muertos, Black History Month, and SaMo PRIDE. In the winter of 2007, Rawson established ICE at Santa Monica, one of the first outdoor ice skating rinks in the region. This beloved holiday destination attracts an average of 200,000 spectators and 50,000 skaters each season and has evolved into a cherished community gathering space where Santa Monicans and visitors can celebrate with their loved ones and learn to skate on real ice.
A true champion for both the business and residential communities, Rawson dedicated much of her time at DTSM developing and lobbying for local laws and programs that would bring a diverse and meaningful mix of uses to the downtown and help to create a safe and welcoming experience. Rawson was at the helm during the COVID-19 pandemic, personally visiting and working with local businesses to ensure that they had the information, supplies and permits needed to operate safely. Seeing a need to prepare for economic recovery, Rawson worked with the Board of Directors, downtown stakeholders, and the City of Santa Monica to develop the Third Street Promenade Stabilization and Revitalization Plan, a robust action plan that will guide the organization and the district through the aftermath of the pandemic.
"There is no overstating the positive impact Kathleen and her work with DTSM have had on the downtown district and city as a whole," said Santa Monica City Councilmember Gleam Davis. "She has carried out the best vision for this community that we could hope for and we're confident the foundation she has built will take the organization to even greater heights during its next chapter."
Rawson has worked in Santa Monica for more than 30 years. Prior to joining DTSM, she held roles with the Holiday Inn Hotel at the Pier (now the Wyndham), The Huntley Hotel and the Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau. She currently serves as the Board Chair for the International Downtown Association and previously served as chair of the Santa Monica Malibu Education Foundation and the Venice Land Use and Planning Committee for the Venice Neighborhood Council.
"Kathleen has been an invaluable presence at DTSM, providing sound leadership and insight over the past 25 years," said Board Chair Barry Snell. "We, as a Board, are extremely grateful for the dedication and hard work she has devoted to the prosperity of the district and only hope to continue to grow upon what she has accomplished."
The DTSM Board of Directors will engage in an executive search for a new CEO in early 2022.
About Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM, Inc.)
Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. is a private non-profit 501c(3) that works with the City of Santa Monica to manage services and operations in Downtown Santa Monica that promote economic stability, growth and community life within Downtown Santa Monica. DTSM, Inc. manages the Property-based Business Assessment District (PBAD) that encompasses the area bounded by Ocean Avenue (W), Wilshire Boulevard (N), Lincoln Boulevard (E) and the Santa Monica Freeway (S). For more info, please visit DowntownSM.com or follow us on Instagram and Twitter @dtsantamonica or Facebook at DowntownSantaMonica.