Downtown Chapel Hill

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Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership Names Matthew Gladdek Executive Director


CHAPEL HILL, NC – Following an extensive search, today the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership (Partnership) Board of Directors announced Matthew (Matt) Gladdek as its new Executive Director. Gladdek’s service will begin on Monday, January 14, 2019.

“We are thrilled that Matt is joining the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership,” said Board Chair Elizabeth Sasser. “He is a thoughtful, visionary leader who will work collaboratively to make downtown Chapel Hill a more vibrant and inclusive place.”

In this role, Gladdek will: 1) bring stakeholders together to reach a clear and compelling vision for the future of downtown Chapel Hill and a clarity of purpose for the Partnership; 2) create a bold strategic plan that positions the Partnership for greatest impact; and 3) ensure long-term organizational sustainability with the acquisition of new investments and increased engagement among stakeholders.

"I am honored to come back to Chapel Hill and serve in this exciting role for a community I have always loved,” said Matt Gladdek. “I look forward to helping Chapel Hill define its priorities for downtown, to fulfill those desires, and to make downtown Chapel Hill a place everyone loves to be.”  

Gladdek most recently directed policy and planning for Downtown Durham, Inc., where he led the Downtown Durham Master Plan and helped facilitate the extensive public process that directed the plan and created a shared vision for downtown. His appreciation for community and economic development began in Buffalo, NY, where he was raised. After working in the Massachusetts State Legislature for several years, Matt moved to NC and earned a Master’s in City & Regional Planning and a Master’s in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill. His passion for working with the community to create diverse and thriving downtowns and his experience at Downtown Durham, Inc., will be extremely valuable as he takes the helm of the Partnership.

“Matt has been a vital and well-respected member of the Downtown Durham, Inc. team,” said Nicole J. Thompson, CEO, Downtown Durham, Inc. “He has worked tirelessly to build on downtown Durham’s success. Though he will be greatly missed by all at DDI, we are happy to see him excel, and we wish him the best in his new position.”

The executive director search process gave the Partnership Board of Directors an opportunity to regroup and refocus. In August 2018, the Board contracted the International Downtown Association (IDA) to assess the Partnership. The four-person IDA review team brought in-depth experience with university downtowns from across the country, as well as expertise in data-based best practices. Their findings were summarized in an important report, which shaped and informed the new executive director job description.

The search process was expertly guided by Moss + Ross and the search committee included Elizabeth Sasser, Lecturer, Public Policy, UNC-Chapel Hill; Gordon Merklein, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Real Estate Operations, UNC-Chapel Hill; Elizabeth Flake, Manager, Underground Printing; Pam Hemminger, Mayor, Town of Chapel Hill; Mark Sherburne, General Manager, The Carolina Inn; Susan Brown, Director, Chapel Hill Public Library and Executive Director for Community Arts & Culture, Town of Chapel Hill; Scott Maitland, Proprietor, Top of the Hill Distillery.

“We are delighted to welcome Matt back to Chapel Hill and have him lead the Partnership at this important juncture,” said Sasser. “His community engagement, economic development, urban planning skills and more will be a tremendous asset for the downtown community.”

About the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership: The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership maintains, enhances, and promotes downtown as the social, cultural, and spiritual center of Chapel Hill through economic development. The Partnership brings together more than 175 business and the resources of the Town, University, and community to create a healthy economic environment for the downtown business district.


·      For immediate comment about this hiring announcement, contact Elizabeth Sasser, Chair, Board of Directors, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, at 919-260-6444,

·      To request an interview with Matt upon his on-boarding in mid- to late-January, contact Elinor Landess, Interim Executive Director, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, 919-928-5735,