110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Bittersweet parting, as family plans move to Punta Gorda
By Pat Andrews
posted May 6, 2013 - 7:42:23pm
It will be a bittersweet parting for Mary Beth Harris, when she leaves her job this summer as executive director of the MainStreet DeLand Association.
Harris notified the organization's board of directors May 3 that her family would be moving to Punta Gorda, after her husband, Ty Harris, accepted a job as assistant county attorney for Charlotte County.
Mary Beth Harris plans to keep working until June 15 for MainStreet, a city-supported nonprofit that promotes Downtown DeLand and stages events to bring people to the central shopping district.
"I'm going to miss DeLand and my family here, but I'm very excited for Ty and this new chapter in our lives," Mary Beth Harris said. "We'll always have ties to Volusia County. My parents are here, and Ty's mom is here. We'll be back to visit."
Harris took the reins at MainStreet in December 2012, after Executive Director Jack Becker retired. Before that, she spent a year as assistant director. Before that, Harris had been a MainStreet volunteer for 15 years.
The MainStreet Association will immediately begin the job of accepting applications and hiring a new executive director. Advertising of the job began May 8, and by the end of that day, four applications had already been received. The job pays between $35,000 and $45,000.
"Luckily, we've been given a lot of time to begin the recruiting process," MainStreet Association President Savannah-Jane Griffin said. "We hope to hire someone in the next couple of weeks, if possible."
Griffin said Harris' departure will be bittersweet for her, as well.
"I'm definitely sad to see her go. She's done an amazing job," Griffin said. "I'm happy she's going to be able to be with her family."
The Harrises have three children. Mary Beth Harris said she is "super excited" to be a stay-at-home mom for the first time.
Ty Harris, also, will be doing something new — working in land development on the government side. A partner with the Daytona Beach firm of Storch & Harris, Ty Harris has been on the private side of land development for 15 years, in Dade and Volusia counties. He will remain "of counsel" with Storch & Harris, which counts some major land developers among its clients, but none in the Charlotte County area.
Mary Beth Harris said she and Ty both grew up as "Air Force brats," so they are experienced movers. Both attended DeLand High School. Mary Beth Harris graduated from Stetson University and went into banking, while her husband earned his law degree from the University of Miami, after completing his bachelor's and master's degrees at Florida State University.
For both of them, Mary Beth Harris said, DeLand is the place they have lived the longest. Helping develop DeLand's Downtown business district by working with the MainStreet organization was very special, she said.
"It was my dream job," she said. "I'm going to cherish the relationships and the memories, and take them with me."
The departing executive director expressed confidence about her replacement.
"Savannah-Jane Griffin, the president, and the rest of the board are very focused on the MainStreet team and mission, and they'll make a very good decision," Mary Beth Harris said. "There's going to be the perfect candidate out there."
Griffin, too, was optimistic about the opportunity.
"It's hard to see a person go, but it's healthy for an organization to have change," she said.
Sarahrose Ministeri, the assistant director Mary Beth Harris brought on board, said she is looking forward to working with the next executive director.
Ministeri, who has been active in the Downtown DeLand community for years, had high praise for Mary Beth Harris.
"I'm going to miss her. She's been a wonderful boss. I'm very happy for her and her family," she said.
Harris reminded the community that it takes more than a good director to make an organization like MainStreet DeLand prosper.
"The thing that makes DeLand such a wonderful community is everyone's dedication to DeLand," she said. "It's been a successful MainStreet since 1983; it will continue to be. We have a great city to work with, and that's not going away."
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