Six Individuals Honored as Downtown Award Winners
15 Nominated for prestigious MDA Downtown Awards
MISSOULA – Since 1986, the Missoula Downtown Association has recognized and honored individuals who have given back to the Missoula community through service to Downtown and the organizations that work to make Downtown the best it can be. The MDA recently honored six individuals and businesses who did extraordinary things for Downtown Missoula in 2021. This year’s awards were presented individually, as the annual MDA Awards Banquet & Membership Meeting was once again cancelled due to the COVID pandemic.
Donna Gaukler, Director of Missoula Parks & & Recreation was recognized as the Dan Cederberg Downtowner of the Year. Gaukler’s outstanding service to our community has resulted in equitable access to parks, improvements to Westside Park, creative revamping of the former library into Base Camp, and work to get the North Riverside Parks and Trails Plan improvements underway have had a major impact on our community and our Downtown.
“Missoula parks and trails are some of our most valuable assets in our community, and Donna Gaukler’s work to improve, upgrade, maintain and grow support for our public spaces brings real, positive, and impactful change that all Missoulians can appreciate,” said Josh Eder, President of the MDA Board of Directors. “Our community is really lucky to have Donna Gaukler at the helm of our parks and recreation programming.”
The Roxy Theater was named the Downtown Business of the Year for its extreme creativity in programming through the pandemic, as well as its powerful return to in-person movies. When COVID shut down the theater, the Roxy partnered with the Missoula Paddleheads to bring Centerfield Cinema outdoor theater to the community. They created the Roxy Garden for outdoor viewing in the alley, and they expanded their Hip Strip footprint in the building next door. Since reopening, the Roxy has brought life and vibrancy back to Downtown and the Hip Strip.
Bram Moore, Operations Coordinator for the Downtown Missoula Partnership was the Downtown Employee of the Year for his steadfast and inspiring service to the Downtown community. As a consistent, loyal, and hard-working frontline employee, Moore is primarily responsible for the record-setting Gift Card Sales for 2021 ($570,000), oversees Caras Park management and event, the Downtown Boulevard Banner program, and serves as the first employee who greets every visitor to the Downtown Missoula Partnership (DMP) office. His incredibly positive attitude and service to our community help connect Missoulians and our guests to the heart of Missoula.
Ashley Larkin, commercial loan officer at First Montana Bank, was honored as the Downtown Volunteer of the Year. In addition to serving as the MDA Board President, Larkin volunteered at essentially all MDA festivals last year, going above and beyond to provide excellent experiences for event attendees and Downtown businesses alike.
Jed Liston was recognized as the MDA Committee Member of the Year for his leadership and service to the Downtown Marketing Committee. His 40+ years of experience in marketing has helped shape and refine the strategies and campaigns that bring people to Downtown Missoula. He was also nominated for Board Member of the Year.
Ellen Buchanan, Director of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, was named the MDA Downtown Board Member of the Year for her incredibly high level of service to the Downtown community and tireless contributions at multiple levels. Buchanan serves on the MDA Board of Directors, as well as the Downtown Business Improvement District Board of Trustees. She chairs the Downtown Master Plan Implementation Team, the River City Roots Festival Committee, and the Winter & Garden City BrewFests planning team. She has been a dedicated public servant and Downtown leader for more than 20 years, and her impact has been significant.
“We are so fortunate to have incredibly talented and dedicated individuals who give so much of themselves and their resources back to our community,” said Eder. “One of the most important things that makes Missoula the community we love is our people. Our Downtown people – our public servants, leaders, employees, and volunteers – are constantly giving back to make our community better, and the Downtown Awards is just one small way in which we can honor the people who make Downtown Missoula the best it can be.”
This year 15 individuals were nominated for a Downtown Award. The Downtown Awards Program was established in 1986 and expanded in both 2004 and 2014. Nearly 100 individuals and businesses have been recognized over the years for their selfless giving of time and talent to make great things happen in Downtown Missoula.
Other nominees for 2021-22 Downtown Awards include:
- Candy Hartman from Mountain Line and Jeff Overturf from A Carousel for Missoula for Employee of the Year.
- Heidi Starrett, Missoula Broadcasting, and Molly McCauley, retiree, for Volunteer of the Year.
- Gretchen Sutherland, Missoula Parks & Rec; Bryan Hickey, Big Dipper; and Karen Sippy, Relic & Allez, for Committee Member of the Year.
- Clyde Coffee and The Oxford Saloon for Downtown Business of the Year.
For more information or to schedule interviews with award winners, please contact the Downtown Missoula Partnership staff via phone (406-543-4238) or email ([email protected]).