St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership announces new CEO
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership is pleased to announce it has hired Joni James, an award-winning Florida journalist, as its new chief executive officer. Marine scientist Peter Betzer, who has served as CEO and president for the past seven years, will continue as the Partnership’s president, ensuring that the Partnership’s impressive success with marine science and technology initiatives will continue.
“With Joni’s arrival, the Partnership has the staff to take on additional challenges and expand its reach,” said Rob Kapusta, chairman of the Partnership’s Board of Directors. “We’re excited to have her on board.”
James said the role was too good to pass up. “The same reason I got into journalism, to contribute to the community, is core to the Partnership’s mission,” James said. “I’m looking forward to building on the Partnership’s history and making my adopted hometown an even better place.”
James, 48, served as the Tampa Bay Times deputy of editorials from 2008 until earlier this year and was a distinguished veteran of the Capital Press Corps in Tallahassee before that, having also worked for the Miami Herald and the Wall Street Journal there. Her ability to delve into complex topics and distill them for the public has won her top awards in editorial writing four times from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. She has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the Walker Stone Award from Scripps-Howard. She is a graduate of Wake Forest University and will receive her master’s degree in mass communications in May from the University of Florida. She joined the Partnership on April 20.
James, her husband Mark Howerton and their daughter have called St. Petersburg home since 2007.
For more than five decades, the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership has been working to support sustainable urban growth and development in Florida’s best downtown. A non-profit, shareholder-supported organization, it was integral to helping establish the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, building the city’s internationally acclaimed marine science complex and initiating the St. Petersburg Trolley system. Its most recent initiatives have included luring the BLUE Ocean Film Festival and supporting St. Petersburg College’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at LumaStream.