Co-founder gone from Park Silly Sunday Market |

Co-founder gone from Park Silly Sunday Market

A few years ago, Jewels Harrison and some of her friends decided to create a community event as a way to help them all stay in touch. The fruit of their labors turned into a weekly summer market attracting tens of thousands of people.

Last Friday her involvement in that effort ended when the not-for-profit Park Silly Sunday Market board of directors announced it was releasing her as executive director.

A press release from two board members did not explain the reason for the release, but Harrison on Monday said she’s pretty sure it was because she struggled to raise enough money for the group.

She didn’t blame anyone else or point fingers for the failure; she just said there were some challenges and that during hard financial times it is common for boards to replace executive directors.

"I’m saddened and confused by it. I’m also confident the board has a plan in place that will carry the organization forward in a positive way I hope the community will continue to support the events," she said.

As a nonprofit organization, she and co-founder Kimberly Kuehn were required by law to form of board of directors. Harrison said she is grateful for the service of those members including Town Lift owner Mike Sweeney, Bill Shoaf of The Sky Lodge and Stephanie Johnston of Marriott Summit Watch. She also hopes someone in the community with accounting experience will volunteer to be treasurer.

Even though it was that board that ousted her, Harrison said she isn’t resentful.

It had been the plan all along to eventually transition her responsibilities to Kuehn and move on to other projects. She’s had to turn down offers over the years because her "plate was too full." The timeframe was just pushed up on that exit, she said.

Harrison said she offered to stay on in a different capacity, but the board wanted a clean break. Now she’s reveling in spending more time with her family and dreaming about her next step. She’s getting inspiration from reading "Kickass Creativity," a book by Park City author Mary Beth Maziarz.

"The most important thing for me is that the organization continues to thrive. Hundreds of families count on this each summer this is their livelihood," she said. "We have so many success stories from people who participated."

The market may develop a little differently than it would have under her own vision, but she’s OK with that and expects it to grow and thrive.

"You open a window to an idea that wants to be born, and it just goes and you’re hanging on to the coattails of it. As it continues to grow, we all had lives, I had another career; we’ve all sort of adapted our lives for this idea that took on a life of its own," she said.

Harrison said one aspect of her work on the four previous years of the market she’s especially proud of is the "no waste" initiative.

"Whether you’re an environmentalist or an economist, it makes sense to be smarter about how that is done," she said.

Shoaf, a member of the board, said he had nothing but admiration and respect for what Harrison did for the market, but would only say in regards to the dismissal, "It was a difficult decision and these are times when difficult decisions must be made."

Harrison said she believes it was because she missed budget projections.

"When numbers are not what projections are when they don’t match up, that’s a big red flag and an alarm," she said. "I’m not the first executive director to be removed from that position in this recovering economy."

The market got a late start on fundraising this year because negotiations with the city to continue on Main Street weren’t finalized until March. Some fundraising efforts early in the season were hampered by bad weather. Gifts to "donation boxes" at the market have been down from projections as well, she said.

Still, this season will finish strong, and plans are already underway for 2011, she said.

"The organization itself is solid, and with continued community support, will thrive for years to come," she concluded.

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