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BENNINGTON — John Shannahan, the longtime executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation, has decided to step down from the post.

Shannahan photo

John Shannahan, longtime executive director of the Better Bennington Corporation, said Thursday that he has decided to step down from the position.

His decision was announced Thursday in a release from Susan Plaisance, president of the BBC board.

Michael McDonough, also a member of the board, has accepted the position of interim executive director of the organization, which supports and promotes the downtown and its businesses.

The officials said the change comes as Bennington’s downtown is emerging from the difficult year of the COVID-19 pandemic with new and existing businesses expressing optimism and confidence in the future.

Shannahan was lauded by BBC board members during the recent presentation of their annual report and future plans for his efforts to ease the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“Visions conceived before the pandemic have withstood a challenging time and emerged ready to have a positive impact on Bennington for years to come,” said BBC Vice President Michael Keane in the release.

“John Shannahan has served the BBC and the Bennington community with distinction for many years, tirelessly, and effectively by supporting Bennington’s businesses and downtown cultural life during the many months of the pandemic,” Plaisance said.

According to the release, Shannahan will serve as an independent contractor for the BBC for a few months, assisting McDonough as the organization’s board conducts a search for a new, full-time director.

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“The pandemic struck as the town began seeing real changes,” the release stated. “The Putnam Block Redevelopment and a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) district designation started the ball rolling with new businesses opening, including a distillery, a brewery, restaurants, and shops, as well as new residents moving in to new second floor apartments.”

“All those exciting changes, along with the stresses of the pandemic, made it seem like the right time for me to step away, and for the BBC to think about restructuring and preparing for the challenges of the next five years,” Shannahan said.

“It’s so exciting to see all of this happening all over downtown after spending so many years working to address challenges faced by Bennington and countless other communities near and far.

Watching all our efforts come to fruition and now being able to personally enjoy them is a dream come true for me.”

McDonough is a lifelong resident of Bennington, a graduate of Notre Dame University and a retired architect.

He is a former president of the BBC, and an appointed member of the Vermont Downtown Board, serving since its inception in 1998 under the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. He also chairs the Bennington Planning Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission.

“I am honored,” he said, “to assume this temporary position as we examine the BBC’s role in this new era of downtown vitality which Bennington is entering. I am greatly indebted to John for the leadership role he has provided in the life of our downtown and look forward to working closely with him during this transition.”

“We are extremely fortunate to have Michael, an able, experienced, and dedicated BBC trustee willing to take on the task of seeing us through our search for a new executive director.” Plaisance said. “He understands our mission to lead and support public and private efforts that promote and enhance downtown as the vital commercial and cultural heart of the community.”

Plaisance is the advertising director for the Bennington Banner.

Jim Therrien writes for Vermont News and Media, including the Bennington Banner, Manchester Journal and Brattleboro Reformer. Email


Jim Therrien reports for the three Vermont News and Media newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield Republican, and the former North Adams Transcript.


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