aerial photo downtown Rock Island

Rock Island Downtown Alliance Board selected

Board members for the newly created Rock Island Downtown Alliance were appointed by Mayor Mike Thoms and approved by City Council on March 27, 2023.

“The RIDA Board of Directors is a great, enthusiastic group of individuals that represent the makeup of the SSA District with diversity in many areas such as small and large businesses, building owners and residents,” Thoms said. “This group of professionals is what the city needs to move the downtown vision forward.”

This marks the next successful step in launching a place management organization affiliated with the Quad Cities Chamber to manage Rock Island’s new downtown Special Service Area.

“This group has everything you want and need in a Board – diverse perspectives, areas of expertise, circles of influence and passion for the cause,” said Jack Cullen, Director, Downtown Rock Island. “On top of that, they collectively live, work, play, eat and shop in downtown Rock Island, so they know the opportunities and challenges we have in front of us. I’m eager to apply their leadership and positive, winning attitude to revitalizing downtown.”

The Downtown Alliance has a 13-person Board of Directors, one of whom is Rock Island City Manager Todd Thompson. Per the organization’s bylaws, the other 12 individuals must include two downtown residents, three business owners, six property owners and one nonprofit leader. Among other responsibilities, the Board will help develop a strategic framework, work plan and budget for the Downtown Alliance.

Here are the inaugural Downtown Alliance Board members:

Appointment of a three-year term, expiring 2026:

  • DeAnna Freeman-Foster | Owner, Big T Wear Big & Tall Clothing (Business owner)
  • Raja Krishnamurthy | Information Technology Executive, Royal Neighbors of America (Business & Property owner)
  • Steven Ratcliff | Owner, Bent River Brewing Company (Business & Property owner)
  • Greg Stecker | Manager, Stecker Graphics (Business & Property owner)


Appointment of a two-year term, expiring 2025:

  • Brett Hitchcock | Executive Vice President, Circa ‘21 Dinner Playhouse and The Speakeasy (Business & Property owner)
  • Arron Sutherland | President/Chief Executive Officer, Illinois Casualty Company (Business & Property owner)
  • Brandy VandeWalle | Owner, Skeleton Key Art & Antiques (Resident, Business & Property owner)
  • Nicole Watson-Lam | Owner, Ms. BriMani’s Hair and Beauty Supply & The Urban Reserve Luxury Rooftop Events (Business & Property owner)


Appointment of a one-year term, expiring 2024:

  • John Chow | Executive Director, Rock Island Housing Authority; CEO, Community Home Partners (Nonprofit leader and Business & Property owner)
  • Benjamin Fawks | Owner, Rozz-Tox (Resident & Business owner)
  • Erica Williams | Resident, DuMarche Townhomes (Resident & Property owner)
  • Amanda Wood | Development Manager, Russell/Rock Island Investors (Business & Property owner)


Background and next steps

Upon expiration of their respective initial terms, the 12 Board members, excluding the City Manager, may be re-appointed for three-year terms. Members may serve two consecutive terms before being required to take at least one year off the Board; they may thereafter serve again.

Following the initial term, the Board will nominate and appoint its members in June of each year. The Downtown Alliance Board will also form standing committees with specific focus areas, such as finance and livability, that will engage additional downtown stakeholders.

As most of the organization’s funding will come from the City, generated by the downtown Special Service Area revenues, the organization will present an annual work plan and budget to the City Council for approval. In addition, regular reports and check-in meetings with the City will be held.

The Downtown Alliance’s first workplan with performance metrics and corresponding budget must be submitted for City Council’s approval no later than June 30, 2023.

Read the full City Council memo, and learn more about the Board members.