Who We Are
Downtown is the diverse, unique and thriving heart of Durham, and is welcoming to all.
To enhance the environment, economy and vitality of downtown Durham, while preserving and enriching its distinctive culture and strong sense of community.
Downtown Durham, Inc. (DDI) is a 501(c) 6 organization, formed in 1993 to serve as a catalyst for downtown revitalization.
With more than $1.7 billion dollars invested over the past 20 years, downtown is now a thriving climate able to support additional business, retail and housing growth. Since 1993 Downtown has grown from just 160 residents to more than 1,500; added over 300 new businesses; increased its annual visitors by more than 1 million; and added nearly 2 million square feet of new office space. Investments slated for the near future will bring total dollars invested to nearly $2 billion.
In 2012, DDI became the entity responsible for the downtown Durham Business Improvement District, a .8 mile area where property owners are assessed a small additional tax to create a cleaner, safer and more vibrant downtown community. The tax is used by the BID to fund the Ambassadors program, which provides maintenance services that supplement those offered by the city, as well as to develop and fund district-wide placemaking and marketing initiatives that support businesses located in the district.
- Diversity is the foundation of Durham’s vitality and creativity.
- Downtown is the heart of Durham. It is welcoming to everyone and must reflect and honor Durham’s diversity.
- Diversity includes shared success in the form of access to ownership of businesses and property in downtown and adjacent corridors.
Nicole began her career in economic development while working for the Institute of Minority Economic Development in downtown Durham in the early 90s. Since then, she has worked in economic and community development on the state government, local government and nonprofit/community levels in North Carolina, Virginia and Colorado. She has experience in leading economic development efforts and growth in both rural and urban areas. Prior to coming to Durham, Nicole spent four years in Colorado, where she was the Executive Director of the Leadville-Lake County Economic Development Corporation. While in this position, she worked tirelessly to advocate for responsible and strategic economic growth and development in Lake County. Nicole graduated from the University of Richmond with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Urban Studies and received a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Anna is the linchpin between the organization’s various functions. She oversees internal operations and systems and assists with fundraising and marketing activities.
Anna has spent her career in marketing, public relations, and small business management. While with a regional marketing firm, she supervised agency operations, including staffing, financials and client accounts, and she negotiated client media buys. She transitioned to the client side with a Durham-based real estate development company, where she was responsible for internal and external communications, government relations, event planning, media relations and branding. Most recently, Anna owned and oversaw the day-to-day operations for a specialty retail bakery in downtown Durham’s Five Points area.
Anna graduated from Elon College (now Elon University) with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications.
Patrick Holt, DDI's Marketing & Communication Assistant, spent most of his childhood in Durham. Through his work in graphic design and public libraries, Patrick has made a career of delivering the best information to the audience that needs it in the best way possible. He has a particular interest in supporting local arts communities, serving as co-organizer for the first nine years of the Durham Comics Fest, establishing the Triangle Comics Creator Network, and gathering resources for these writers and artists through the Triangular Comics e-newsletter.
Patrick graduated from Winthrop University with a BFA in painting and graphic design, and he received an MS in library science from UNC Chapel Hill.
Rebekah is the Economic Development Research Analyst for DDI. She has a background in GIS, data management, parcel analysis, site analysis and market analysis. As an ED Research Analyst, Rebekah performs statistical analysis and conducts secondary research by gathering information from numerous sources. She focuses on ways to synthesize and convert data gathered into materials for effective information comprehension. Rebekah has experience working on multifamily and mixed income projects throughout the Southeastern U.S., including major metro areas and specific neighborhoods. Rebekah graduated from North Carolina Central University receiving both a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Geography, and a Master’s degree in Earth Science.
Melissa was born and raised in Raleigh, NC, has lived in Durham for the past 17 years and feels very fortunate to now call the Bull City her home. Melissa is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and a Minor in Urban Planning. Melissa also holds a NC Real Estate Broker's License. She began her career working in management for 10 years with two locally owned and operated small businesses: the Great Outdoor Provision Company in both Raleigh and Durham, and A Southern Season located in Chapel Hill. Melissa began working for Downtown Durham, Inc. in 2006, and has served in various roles for the organization during that time. In her spare time, she enjoys getting outside whenever possible, hiking, backpacking, fishing and canoeing, and she’s always planning her next adventure in Southern Utah.
Connor coordinates a variety of projects related to downtown revitalization, economic development, public policy, special events, community relations and marketing. He administers the Public Space Project and other placemaking initiatives.
Prior to joining DDI in 2019, Connor gained experience in communications and support roles in the fields of economic development, urban planning and arts administration.
Connor graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economic Development and Dramatic Art. He also is a working actor and musician and enjoys cycling, backpacking, and skiing.
As the Director of Marketing & Communication, Gina's most important role is telling the compelling story of downtown's businesses, organizations, residents and visitors in order to build on the success of this thriving and uniquely Durham community. Gina is responsible for branding, marketing, internal and external communications. She also leads the planning for many of the organization's major events.
Gina has spent her career working with nonprofit and governmental organizations, which has allowed her to follow her passion of serving and educating communities. In her most recent positions prior to joining Downtown Durham, Inc., she led marketing and communications teams at the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of Computer Science and Durham County Library.
Gina graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, and from North Carolina Central University with a Master of Library Science degree.
Erik is the face of the Clean & Safe Ambassador Program for DDI. Since 2015, Erik has been the Ambassador Operations Manager, responsible for a team of ten full-time Ambassadors.
Erik has spent his career in natural resource management, landscaping and hospitality. After several years of managing operations in the landscape maintenance and design field, he transitioned to the hospitality industry, where he managed a platinum golf club, overseeing both landscaping and food and beverage operations. Immediately prior to joining DDI, Erik managed food and beverage operations and guest services for a large conference center.
Erik graduated from The Evergreen State College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Ecology and Natural History.
Board of Directors
Self-Help Credit Union
Emerson Land Planning, PLLC
Lennox and Grae
Nonprofit Executive Search Consultant
Brenda A. Howerton
DDI Office Location
115 Market St, Suite 213
Durham, NC 27701
Tell Us About It
What’s great about downtown Durham, and what could be better? Your thoughts are always welcome.