A major theme that I heard in my first year at the Downtown Partnership was that Anchorage residents were unclear about what exactly we did as an organization. Some folks would sing the praises of our Security Ambassadors but have no idea we organized the Tree Lighting Ceremony or they got their ice-melt delivered in the winter but had no idea that we did youth employment training in the summers. This confusion went the other way as well. We still field calls for the Fire Department and Parking Authority. What struck me then and what impresses me every day now is that there has been one person that has steadily stewarded all the things that we do (and helpfully addresses the needs that are not necessarily our role) for nearly a decade.
Ruth Quinlan is more than just the manager of our Downtown offices (and the Board President of Friends of Pets), she is the glue that has held together our organization as it has evolved through changes in leadership, different city administrations and organizational focus. She is more than the constant and the institutional knowledge. Ruth is the one, more times than I can count, that has stood in as the voice of the Anchorage Downtown Partnership. And while there was some question about what we do, there has never been a doubt of who we are.
Because of Ruth’s kindness and patients people our organization is one of the first that people will turn when they need to ask for help. Because of her competence and attention to detail, Ruth is the name given to new hires Downtown and business owners Downtown as the first to call when they are getting started. Because of her ability to adapt, Ruth is the reason that when anyone in the office or around town has a new idea they come to 333 W. 4th Avenue and run it by her.
As much as it has surprised me that someone can take literally hundreds of phone calls a week for a decade and still keep the books for a million-dollar company and yet still take the time to be a friend and a support system and a thoughtful colleague, it is even more surprising that she has the same answer to every new challenge and changing direction: yes. When I came on just over two years ago I have put more on her than anyone in the organization (including myself). She has never once shrunk from the challenge or allowed new responsibility to distract her from an existing commitment. She has been unafraid to take on new challenges and opportunities.
I am writing this letter to not only acknowledge a terrific member of our community but to challenge myself and others to follow the example. I believe that we are faced with a moment in this city where we can collectively make a dramatic change with the simple act of saying, “Yes.” I believe that when we are asked to break our routine or address a stranger’s issue that we do not shrink from the opportunity even when it is not ‘our job.’ I am calling on myself this year to be unafraid of what I don’t know or are unfamiliar with. And I look forward to meeting new friends and partners along the way.
– Jamie Boring Executive Director of the Anchorage Downtown Partnership, Ltd.