ITHACA N.Y.—The Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA) announced Nan Rohrer, a Baltimore-based consultant with a lengthy business development background, will become the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer. 

The organization, along with John Guttridge, the chair of the DIA’s Board of Directors, released a statement June 5 to announce. Rohrer will relocate to Ithaca from Baltimore, MD to start work by early July. 

Rohrer succeeds the organization’s former Executive Director Gary Ferguson, who announced his pending retirement from the DIA in February of this year after 24 years.

It is widely accepted that Ferguson was fundamental in growing downtown Ithaca during the last 20 years. During his tenure, three new hotels opened, 1,000 new housing units were constructed and he orchestrated several 10-year strategic plans outlining economic growth. He also had a major hand in building out the Commons during and after its reconstruction, according to past reporting in The Ithaca Voice. 

“Downtown Ithaca is well known nationally as a unique community gathering place filled with local dining and retail, cultural experiences, concerts, festivals and much more that make it the center of the city and region,” Rohrer said in the announcement. “I am excited to bring my expertise to Ithaca and build upon the great success of the DIA and Downtown already achieved under Gary’s years of extraordinary vision and leadership.” 

Ferguson’s replacement was chosen following an extensive nationwide search process conducted by HRS, a Pittsburgh-based executive search firm. The process was led by Ashely Cake, former DIA Board Chair and owner of The Watershed and the Downstairs on West State Street, along with a group of six volunteers. 

“Given the overwhelming success of Gary’s leadership and downtown’s exponential growth and development, it became important for his successor to be someone with experience with large and growing Business Improvement Districts,” Cake said in the statement. 

Rohrer fits the bill. She currently lives in Baltimore, Maryland where she has spent “over 20 years leading and working” with organizations focused on downtown/neighborhood revitalization and economic development, according to the statement, which goes on to outline her qualifications. 

She served as the President of the Midtown Community Benefits District (similar to a Business Improvement District in New York State), where she headed a staff of 30 and presided over the interests and needs of four different neighborhoods before stepping down in fall 2021.

For 11 years, she served as the Vice President for Economic Development and Planning with the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore. Here, she worked on projects small and large that touched all sectors of the downtown community. 

Rohrer also served as a consultant, specializing in long-term planning and project management and assessment. Her local government experience began in Baltimore City Hall, where she served as a neighborhood liaison and Director of Partnerships.

Judy Lucas is a General Assignment Reporter for The Ithaca Voice. Have a story idea? Comment or question? You can reach me at or on Twitter @judy__lucas.