Roger Igielski, president of the Waukesha Downtown Business Association, has resigned from the leadership position after being president of the organization for several years.
The following is Igielski's resignation letter:
Five years ago, Karen White of the Little Swiss Clock Shop asked me to run for President of the WDBA. Before I could give her an answer, I asked one question and shared one comment. The question I asked was if the organization was willing to change in order to improve? Having led many initiatives over the years, the one constant that I always bring to the table is change, which generally also brings about more teamwork and organizational improvement.
I was elected in 2008, when the WDBA had 12 members. We now have over 70 downtown businesses in membership. While I was not responsible for individually soliciting each of those members, I’d like to believe that I played a part in improving the WDBA, which may have made it more appealing to belong. While numbers are not the end all of success measurement, they are a part of the picture. Something less quantifiable and thus, harder to measure, is the change in atmosphere that has developed within our membership. While not perfect, I see a greater spirit of cooperation, trust, camaraderie, agreement in vision and mutual marketing of each other’s businesses than in the past.
Another item of success in the downtown has been the growth of Freeman Friday Night Live. When I was asked to take over FFNL in 2009, there were a few stages and several hundred people who attended. Five years later, several factors have brought us to the point that we now have nine stages and thousands in attendance. As you know, due to the large crowds attending the event, the police department decided to close the streets three years ago. This action actually fostered even greater attendance due to the increased safety of the event for young families to bring their children. The sidewalks would have never accommodated the size crowd that comes out each week as well as the numbers of wheelchairs and strollers that can be seen at the event.
As I mentioned above, the second half of my conversation with Karen White involved a comment that I made, which was that I would not hold the position indefinitely. You may know that I have a full time career in the counseling profession, in addition to running Allô! Chocolat along with my wife. Our business is doing well and has grown over the years, but there are more challenges and growth that we are preparing to venture into. Since the shoulders of my wife are already carrying quite a load, more time and attention to our business is required of me. Over the past few years I have also become a grandpa of two, the joy of which is indescribable! I enjoy every moment with them and look forward to spending even more time with them in the days ahead.
Last fall, I did not plan on running for re-election but was encouraged to do so by the WDBA nominating committee, because of the instability that existed at the time in the downtown. I was told that I could always resign before my term was up if necessary. After the Waukesha Downtown Business Association ran an amazing 2012 Christmas parade, Silver Bells with our horse drawn carriage rides, a Santa Run of 500 runners, strolling carolers, a tree lighting and over $5,000 donated to charity, assisted with a second year of Guitar Town with forty plus guitars and 19 murals, a tremendous 2013 Freeman Friday Night Live season, an incredible Farmer’s Market as well as a host of other vibrant activity in the downtown, I believe that the WDBA and downtown Waukesha are in a great place, so the time is right for me to resign the presidency of the WDBA.
I would like to thank the WDBA officers and members, our city leaders and my wife Carrie who have been so supportive and encouraging over the past five years. I’ve shared my “puzzle piece” story many times, but once again I see the “mural” of downtown Waukesha as a picture puzzle made up of thousands of individual pieces. I’ve been privileged to be one of those puzzle pieces for the past five years and I believe that my service has made a positive difference in downtown Waukesha. I challenge everyone to shop, dine and live local to maintain the vibrancy of our downtown business community.