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Harless hired to lead Center City

The Center City Association has hired former Springfield resident Bill Harless as its executive director.

Harless will replace former interim executive director Elaine Morris Roberts, who served in the position for most of 2013.

“We believe that Bill’s experience and particular skill set will be valuable in carrying out the agency’s mission,” said Steve McCready, the president of the Center City Association Board of Directors.

Harless worked for over 30 years in marketing and brand development at American Airlines. He was responsible for developing and maintaining several of the company’s membership loyalty programs.

Harless and his wife, Mary Ann, a Springfield native, will be moving back to the area from Colorado. They lived in Springfield from 2006 to 2011. During his previous time in Springfield, he served on the Springfield Art Museum Board of Directors.

“We’re really excited to be coming back home,” Harless said.

Center City’s mission is to be the “principal advocate” for downtown, according to the release. The organization partners with other downtown colleagues to increase development and events such as Holiday in the City, and assist with the Farmer’s Market.

Springfield is “just ripe for revitalization,” Harless said, and he looks forward to working with other downtown stakeholders.

“I’m excited to be a part of that,” Harless said.

The board felt Harless’ marketing experience would be beneficial to the organization’s growth.

“He has vast experience in bringing different groups together to understand the past, but move towards the future,” said board member Shannon Meadows, the city’s Community Development Director.

Harless will begin his duties on Monday. He will be formally introduced at the organization’s annual meeting on April 29.

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