By Naeisha Rose
Raquel Oliveras of Downtown Manhattan was chosen to be the new executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, according to an announcement made by the BID last week.
She will be stepping into the shoes of Maria Thompson, the beloved former executive director who passed away eight months ago in her 80s, according to Woodhaven BID Vice President Mathew Xenakis.
“Our previous executive director was Maria Thompson and she was like ‘Mrs. Woodhaven,’” said Xenakis. “She cared about the community… we didn’t want to give [the position] to anybody.”
As the new executive director, Oliveras will oversee the day-to-day functions of the business improvement district and execute programming and services for commercial tenants along a 25-block stretch of Jamaica Avenue, which includes 369 ground floor storefronts, according to the Woodhaven BID.
“I feel fantastic about getting the position,” said Oliveras. “The previous ED was working at that position for a long, long time… and people in the community deserve someone that will continue the work and do it well.”
Oliveras previously served as the program director of the Cypress Hills Business Partners at the Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation in the neighboring Brooklyn town where she conducted a Commercial District Needs Assessment in partnership with the city’s Small Business Services agency, according to Woodhaven BID.
During her four-year tenure, she implemented a multitude of organizing, marketing, and revitalization programming based on needs identified by the CDNA, which is a compilation of extensive engagements with local organizations through meetings and surveys that aims to highlight the strengths, weaknesses and potential for opportunities in commercial districts.
“I love the neighborhood,” said Oliveras. “Woodhaven has so much history and so much culture and it is so diverse and has a lot to offer. I hope in my position I can advertise everything that it has.”
Xenakis hopes that with this appointment that Oliveras will help with revitalizing the businesses and bring the BID into the future.
“Going forward we are looking to get more people involved in the BID, to get the message out about what we do… get our website going the right way, do more social media,” said Xenakis. “We are looking to make our neighborhood cleaner, graffiti-free, and we want her to make sure that there are no vacancies or very low vacancies.”
The new executive director can’t wait to take the Woodhaven BID to another level.
“They have a clear vision where there is more business coming to the avenue, they want it to be safer, cleaner, and we would like to attract more customers,” said Oliveras. “We don’t want people from the neighborhood to have to go to another neighborhood to shop and that’s the goal…to have a more vibrant Jamaica Avenue.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose