As president and CEO of Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership, Jane Jenkins brings over 36 years of experience in downtown revitalization and management. An internationally recognized speaker on urban issues, Jenkins is the former chairman for the International Downtown Association Board of Directors, and earned accreditation from the Congress for New Urbanism in 2014. Heavily involved in the OKC community, Jenkins began her career as an educator before pivoting into the revitalization sector. Jenkins plans to step down from the DOKC in March to start her own consulting firm. We caught up with Jenkins and got her thoughts on …

… her career shift.

In 1986, an opportunity presented itself and I took a leap of faith. I answered an ad in the Tulsa World (no internet in 1986) for an historic renovation position in Wagoner. For all I knew, it was a construction job, but I ended up on the ground floor of the newly created Oklahoma Main Street Program. I never meant for the change to be permanent; I always considered it a “break” from teaching. Over 36 years later, I am still on my “break.” What I miss about teaching is the sense of community that permeates the walls of a school. I missed football on Friday nights and coffee in the teacher’s lounge. But what I missed the most were the students. Fortunately, through the magic of Facebook and other social media, I am still in touch with many of my former students.

… her proudest accomplishments at DOKC. 

I am proud that we have been able to establish and brand a separate identity for all the districts that make up downtown Oklahoma City. I am proud of the district manager program and the green team. The light curtains on Broadway were my idea during my first holiday season in Oklahoma City, but I am most proud of the team that I have built. The staff members at DOKC are solid professionals, committed to the work of urban design and placemaking.

… Downtown in December. 

We start our planning for the holiday event season in the middle of summer. Downtown in December is our largest fundraising effort for Downtown OKC Partnership, and the funds raised not only go toward promoting the numerous community events and attractions taking place downtown during the holiday season, but allow us to activate and promote downtown all year long. 

It’s a great way for businesses to engage with the downtown community during the holidays and create brand awareness, all while supporting a healthy downtown. Downtown in December first started in 2002 with only the tree lighting, ice rink and holiday lights. The series has since grown and evolved to include over 30 attractions, with community partners from across the city. Plus, the OKC tree lighting can now be enjoyed from the comfort of your home while shopping our local stores online. View this great showcase of how OKC celebrates the season by watching the Virtual Holiday Special online at downtownindecember.com.

… her passion for revitalization and preservation. 

I grew up in Virginia and South Carolina, so I have always been interested in colonial history. When I was a college student, I worked summers and breaks at the County Assessor’s office in Charleston. The office was in the heart of the Charleston historic district, so I walked around historic buildings every day and researched historic properties as part of my job. When I learned that the Main Street Program was based on historic preservation as an economic development tool, I knew I had landed in the right place. 

… what’s next. 

I am launching a consulting business and hope to work with communities and organizations on a variety of subjects, from building organizational capacity to commercial revitalization and activation. I plan to read more books, spend more time at the lake and travel for longer periods of time. I also hope to visit my family in South Carolina more often. Maybe I’ll learn to garden or cook – but that’s not likely.

… her hopes for the future of the organization. 

My hope is that the organization will continue to be a strong advocate for good urban design, small business services and downtown activation. At some point, I would love to see more shared parking arrangements as opposed to building new parking structures.

… her farewell to DOKC.

It has been a memorable and satisfying experience serving as the president of Downtown Oklahoma City Partnership for almost fourteen years. I am looking forward to writing chapter three in both my personal and professional life, but I will always remember my time in downtown Oklahoma City as the pinnacle of my downtown management career.

… her favorite OKC district.

All six of downtown’s districts are different and each has its own personality and charm. I love them all equally.