BENNINGTON – The Better Bennington Corporation on Wednesday announced its new executive director, a Pownal resident with experience promoting concerts, stage-managing plays on Broadway and organizing an online business listing for her home town.
Jenny Dewar will start in the position on Monday, replacing longtime director John Shannahan, who stepped down in July.
"The BBC Board of Directors welcomes the energy and skill that Jenny will bring to our expanding and vibrant downtown,” board President Susan Plaisance said in a media release.
“Dewar has a wide-ranging background that fits the BBC extremely well,” the release stated. “Her extensive resume includes stage managing 15 Broadway shows and many regional shows and tours, as well as organizing countless events for both theaters and corporations before moving to Vermont in 2006.”
Dewar said she hopes to help continue Downtown Bennington’s revitalization with an increase in public events to draw people downtown and a refocusing of the BBC website, social media, and marketing efforts.
“I am very excited to get back to free downtown events now that the pandemic is a bit more under control,” she said. “Mayfest has been terribly missed by everyone I know. We are also planning a weekly summer event series for early Thursday evenings on the splashpad stage that will be launched by Mayfest and bookended by new happenings at the end of the outdoor event season.”
Reached by phone Thursday, Dewar said one of her prior jobs was to oversee promotion of concerts for Williams College, involving some 125 student concerts and other music events annually.
She also served as a mentor to student stage managers at the college, and was the stage manager for three Williamstown Theatre Festival summer productions.
Her work experience also included dancing in theater productions. Among plays she stage-managed on Broadway were an “Our Town” revival staring Paul Newman and revivals of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Chicago.”
Dewar spent several years as the concert/event manager and visiting artist coordinator for the Department of Music at Williams, where she increased attendance substantially through creative marketing strategies.
She also operates her own small business in Pownal, Karin’s Place, an inn/retreat that hosts events like corporate or health-and-wellness retreats, family reunions and wedding accommodations.
Dewar worked several years ago with current Bennington Community Development Director Shannon Barsotti, also of Pownal, to create the DiscoverPownal website, providing a listing of businesses in town.
“I can’t wait to get started and meet every small business owner in the downtown area, so I hope they are prepared for me to be coming to their places to get acquainted,” Dewar said. “That will, of course, be one of my main priorities in the first couple of weeks on the job.”
Of Bennington’s downtown, she said, “It has been wonderful seeing people out and about again – going to restaurants, kids playing in the splashpad, tourists coming back. We hope to continue and build new activities to bring more and more people to downtown Bennington. It is truly a special place.”
Of her predecessor, she said, “I have big shoes to fill in succeeding John Shannahan, and I hope to do him proud. He will be sorely missed.”
Shannahan is expected to assist Dewar during the transition period.
“We are grateful for the enormous contributions of John Shannahan and look forward to continuing the momentum he worked so hard to help create,” Plaisance said.
She added that the board was assisted by “an outstanding Search Committee,” and chose Dewar from a pool of qualified applicants.
Dewar can be reached as of Monday at the BBC office, 215 South St., and by phone at 802-442-5758.