Howley steps down as director of DNA; Brumfield is new board president

Published 12:57 pm Friday, January 19, 2024

NATCHEZ — Mickey Howley, executive director of the Downtown Natchez Alliance, has resigned.

Jo Ann Brumfield has been elected 2024 DNA board president.

Howley was not immediately available for comment.

Mickey Howley

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A press release issued by DNA just after noon on Friday said Howley’s resignation was effective Jan. 17. It gave no other information about Howley leaving his DNA position, nor would other DNA board members provide further comments. The press release said more information about a search to replace Howley as executive director would be forthcoming.

Howley came to Natchez from Water Valley, where he was Main Street Director for 14 years and was associated with the program from its start in 2006. Howley started in Natchez as director on Nov. 1, 2022.

Howley was invited to the White House in 2015 to speak on the success of the Water Valley Main Street program and its accomplishments in that city.

In the press release, Brumfield praised Howley’s contributions to DNA, including “raising awareness of the important role that residential development plays in the revitalization of a downtown.

“Upper floor lofts, condos, townhomes, long-term and short-term apartments, and even entirely new residential neighborhoods are essential to the permanent and sustainable revitalization of downtown,” Brumfield said.

Brumfield has been on the DNA Board since 2021. She has served as board secretary, president-elect, and chair of DNA’s promotion team, spearheading downtown events including Christmas in July, Fall Pumpkin Patch Festival and the Holiday Host & Toast Open House.

Brumfield’s long and successful career as a hospitality management and marketing professional includes positions at the Natchez Grand Hotel, the Natchez Convention Center, and the Natchez Eola Hotel. Because of her experience in Natchez’s tourism, hotel, and convention industry, Brumfield understands the dynamics behind a successful downtown. “It’s all about demand, about customers, about people,” says Brumfield. “The most important work any of us can do to revitalize our downtown is to incentivize people to live and work downtown, which in turn creates the demand for essential goods and services downtown. We cannot emphasize the importance of downtown residential enough.”

According to the press release, DNA operates in partnership with the City of Natchez and the Mississippi Main Street Association.

“I continue to be so proud of our city’s partnership with our hardworking coalition of the Downtown Natchez Alliance, Mississippi Main Street, the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce and our dedicated downtown merchants,” Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said. “Together we are making great strides for our historic downtown. The Natchez Renewal continues!”

Under Brumfield’s leadership, DNA will roll out its new ‘Destination Downtown’ media campaign and its robust strategic plan, which is organized around four volunteer-led teams: economic revitalization, promotion/events, design/beautification, and organization/partnerships, the press release said.

“We extend our heartfelt thanks to our many partners especially the Board of Aldermen and Mayor Dan Gibson, as we work together to make the Natchez Renewal a reality,” Brumfield said. “Our gratitude also extends to Mickey Howley and to all board members, including T.J. Baggett, Norma West, Brenda Zerby, Robert Pernell, Michael Pace, and Chesney Doyle, for their relentless dedication, as well as to Kevin Miers and Bubba McCabe, who rotated off the board in 2023, and to our invaluable board advisor, Dian Lusher, and our volunteers.”