Under new management

Under new management
John Silveira, senior manager of Riverside Arts Market, and Adrienne Burke, executive director for Riverside Avondale Preservation

Riverside Avondale Preservation, established in 1974 and, until now, managed by leaders who were also residents of the community, has more than one set of fresh eyes on its mission and vision.

With the March 2016 hiring of Adrienne Burke as RAP’s newest executive director and the July hiring of John Silveira as Riverside Arts Market senior manager, the 42-year-old nonprofit will be viewed – and reviewed – by at least two outside perspectives.

A Fernandina Beach resident, Burke is, however, no stranger to the area. “We started coming to RAM from Fernandina not long after it opened [in 2009],” she said.

Burke brings both law (she is a member of the Florida Bar) and order (one of her jobs with the City of Fernandina Beach was code enforcement), as well as a passion for historic preservation, to the job as RAP’s 12th executive director. In addition to an undergraduate degree in history and a law degree, Burke holds a master’s degree in historic preservation and urban planning.

Her first priority on the new job is to listen, observe and assess, while getting her head around the structure and finances of the organization.

“It’s a 40-year old organization with a great track record and institutional knowledge and history,” said Burke. “Since there is so much newness on the board this year, they’ve said it’s a good opportunity to listen, take surveys of the community, hold open houses, and look at updating the strategic plan next year. It was last done seven years ago, so it’s time.”

Burke said while a lot of what’s in the strategic plan is still good, a lot has also changed in the community since 2009.  “The economy is in a different place, and technology is in a different place,” she said. “What does RAP see itself doing as an organization? It really started around historic preservation, land use and zoning stuff, the core of the mission.”

One of Burke’s goals is to educate residents on RAP as a resource center, a place to look at house files, get information on preservation and renovation, and be a neighborhood welcome center. When visitors come to the RAP office on Herschel Street, immediately inside the front door they will find a rack filled with information for the taking.

“There is definitely a confusion that RAP is somehow a wing of the city government. We don’t make decisions, but we can help you work with them,” said Burke. “Anything I can do to help people better understand our role and that we’re not a government office, and we serve as a buffer, would be good.”

Reporting to Burke is Silveira, RAM’s new senior market manager, who brings more than two decades of work with farmers markets on the West Coast and a passion for serving the community.

“With my nonprofit background, you always look for signs of people who are involved with organizations, do they have passion, are they driven by the mission,” he said. “This is an incredible organization.”

He compares his experience to date and the expectations of his constituents – RAM’s vendors and visitors – with a dip into the pool.

“My first week was putting my toes in the water,” said Silveira. “I know there’s an expectation that when you come on board hopefully you really make an impact in your first month. Not only do I have to do a perfect dive off the diving board, the community and the consumers want to see a double backflip.

“How the vendors and the community perceive me is very important,” he continued. “One post on a social media forum mentioned ‘if he takes away the twirling fire makers he’ll have hell to pay.’”

For Silveira, the goal is about creating an experience for the community and he does it by making his presence known on Saturdays under the Fuller-Warren Bridge.

“You need to reach out, not sit behind a booth,” he said. “You have to develop relationships and tap into subject matter experts in the community, and have a conversation with people.”

Silveira and his wife moved to St. Augustine from the San Francisco Bay area, and said his first introduction to Riverside Arts Market began when he got off I-95 at Park Street and began observing what he called the “ant trail” of people making their way toward the market.

“My first impression was really, really positive and standing at the front door, the entrance off Riverside, and looking down and taking it all in, it was just ‘wow!’ he said.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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