Davis Downtown Names Brett Lee as Executive Director

Brett Lee

Former Davis Mayor Brett Lee has been named executive director of the Davis Downtown Business Association, effective June 3.

Lee replaces Brett Maresca, who stepped down from the role on Jan. 26 to pursue other opportunities. Former Davis City Manager Dirk Brazil has been interim executive director since Feb. 12.

Lee served on the Davis City Council from 2012 to 2020 – the last two of those years as mayor. He’s a third-generation Davis resident and is raising his 15-year-old son here. Lee has degrees from UC Berkeley and the London School of Economics. For the past nine years, he has worked as a process improvement engineer for Farm Fresh to You, a subscription-based organic produce delivery service of Capay Organic farm.

Kevin Wan, president of the Davis Downtown board of directors, is thrilled to welcome Lee. “His existing relationships with city staff and his experience with the politics of Davis make him the perfect fit to lead Davis Downtown and champion our mission. Since his days on City Council, he has always been an advocate of our downtown, especially for clean and safe streets, which – year after year – is a top concern with our membership. His skill set will be a tremendous asset to help us navigate an evolving economic landscape.”

Lee thinks his connections are just part of why he was hired. “As a council person, in order to get something done, you have to be a part of at least three votes. … That’s an important thing around the downtown. You’re dealing with unique personalities. How do we work together and land on something meaningful—and a consensus?”

Lee’s work as a process improvement engineer “looks at the process, what you’re trying to achieve and how to best get there,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for most of my career.” There are always ways to make things more efficient, and improve results for business owners as well as patrons.

Initially, Lee wants to talk to as many DDBA members as possible. (All businesses in the city’s core area pay a mandatory fee as part of a business improvement district). He hopes to strengthen the relationships between downtown businesses, the city and UC Davis.

Lee believes “working with the city and the university will be essential components to the success of our downtown.”

At its May 9 meeting, the Davis Downtown Board of Directors unanimously approved Lee’s hiring.

Wan, owner of Sophia’s Thai Kitchen, said board members are excited. “Above all else, he loves Davis. And that was the thing we were looking for most in our next executive director. We are so privileged to bring him on board.”

Davis Downtown leads and energizes the downtown as the primary business, entertainment and cultural center of Davis. Alive with activity seven days a week, downtown Davis draws locals and visitors alike to experience fine food and beverages, retail, professional services, arts and entertainment in an extraordinary and sustainable gathering place.

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