Kathleen Eriksen drove from Michigan last week to help write the next chapter of downtown Tucson’s story.

She will be the fifth chief executive officer for the Downtown Tucson Partnership, taking over for former CEO Michael Keith, who retired after six years in the position.

The owner and founder of a downtown development and consulting firm in Michigan, Eriksen said she will spend the first 30 days meeting with various stakeholders and listening to their concerns.

After the listening tour, Eriksen will begin to work closely with the partnership’s board to map out an updated mission for the nonprofit.

The Michigan native said that while she has been to Arizona several times, her first visit to the Old Pueblo came a few months ago when a executive search firm contacted her about the position.

More than 100 candidates applied for the post, said Randi Dorman, board chairwoman of the Downtown Tucson Partnership.

Dorman is excited about Eriksen’s experience working with neighborhood groups, businesses and downtown historic districts.

City Councilman Steve Kozachik also thinks she will be a good fit for downtown Tucson, which is part of the ward he represents.

“When I interviewed Kathleen I was impressed with her passion for urban redevelopment and the fact that she has worked in environments where multiple competing interests had to be balanced,” he said. “Those include small businesses wanting to expand, concerns over gentrification and neighborhood interests as well.”

Prior to establishing her consulting business, Eriksen co-owned and operated four businesses in downtown Jackson, Michigan.

The Downtown Tucson Partnership is a nonprofit created in 1998 to carry out services for the Downtown Business Improvement District. It receives both public and private funding. Eriksen’s salary will be $140,000 a year.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@tucson.com or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Reporter with the Arizona Daily Star. I cover politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona.