Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:32PM - 205 Views

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Bob Strickley

PDT Content Manager

On Thursday the Main Street Portsmouth Board of Directors officially accepted the resignation of Executive Director Jennifer Kephas and also hired an interim executive director.

Kephas, who was hired in September of 2011, submitted her letter of resignation to MSP Board President Scott Moore Feb. 5.

In an e-mail to board members, the President of the Moore thanked Kephas for her time with the organization.

“Jennifer has been a tremendous asset to MSP over the past year as Executive Director, and perhaps more importantly Jennifer has been effective in communicating MSP’s mission throughout the community,” Moore’s e-mail read. “We will miss her greatly and wish her the best.”

During a 12-week search for the next executive director, former MSP Intern Sarah Surina, will assume the executive director duties under an interim status beginning March 4.

“I am very excited for the opportunity and it is a privilege to take on this role,” Surina told the Daily Times Friday. “I’m very passionate about giving back and that is what drew me to invest in (MSP).”

Surina graduated from Shawnee State in 2012 with a degree in Business Administration. As an intern with MSP, she was the director of the Farmer’s Market and has an asset no previous executive director at MSP possessed.

“Why it was a good choice in the interim is that it is the first time, probably, in the history of the organization that we have been able to hire someone who actually has some familiarity and knowledge of Main Street and what its mission is,” Moore said. “Most of our directors have had to start cold turkey and had no experience, but she has been able to walk through and experience a lot of the aspects of the organization itself. Our hope was to keep things, without missing a beat, going for 2013. We feel pretty good about that.”

Surina said her supervision of the Farmer’s Market gave her experience and familiarity with MSP.

According to Moore, Surina kept in touch with Kephas after the conclusion of her internship and when Kephas resigned, she was quick to recommend Surina as a replacement.

“She had expressed an interest in the position and had stayed in contact with Jennifer after she left her internship. Jennifer quickly recommended her as an interim,” Moore said. “She (Surina) will serve all functions of the executive director while the selection committee starts the process of advertising and looking for a permanent replacement.”

According to Surina, Kephas helped her grow into candidate for the director’s title.

“She had very high confidence in me and I learned to just go out and be yourself,” Surina said. “Now I am very familiar with the job and readily available in the community.”

Moore said Surina will be eligible to apply to remove the interim status from her title, but for the next 12 weeks he said the position is in good hands.

“We are excited to have her come on board,” Moore said.

Main Street Portsmouth is nonprofit organization that utilizes the approach developed by the National Main Street program. The organization’s mission is to preserve the historic integrity of downtown Portsmouth and the historic Boneyfiddle district.

Bob Strickley can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 296, or bstrickley@civitasmedia.com.

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