rebecca matheny

Rebecca Matheny led the Downtown Louisville Partnership from 2014 to 2021. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The longtime head of the Louisville Downtown Partnership has been pushed out of her job.

The Partnership, a public-private agency that seeks to bolster Louisville’s urban core, confirmed executive director Rebecca Matheny’s “immediate” departure in a statement, without addressing the reason for the change.

“LDP thanks Rebecca for her many years of service,” according to the statement from downtown businessmen Tim Mulloy and Stan Moore.

Mulloy is chairman of the Louisville Downtown Development Corp., a private nonprofit, while Moore is chairman of the Louisville Downtown Management District, which oversees the spending of special property taxes assessed on downtown real estate. Together, the organizations comprise the Downtown Partnership.

Matheny, 53, declined to comment on the circumstances of her departure, though she said she has “nothing but regard” for the two boards to whom she reported, and there are “no hard feelings.”

“I have been so honored and pleased to have done the work I have been able to do,” Matheny told WDRB on Thursday. “I am really excited about the future of downtown Louisville.”

Mulloy and Moore declined to comment beyond the statement.

A source close to the situation said Matheny’s departure was involuntary, but Matheny said she “wouldn’t characterize that way.” She declined to elaborate.

“What anybody can say about a personnel issue is highly limited,” she said.

Asked whether Matheny will be given severance, Mulloy said nothing has been finalized. Matheny declined to comment on those talks.

Bill Schreck, a retired longtime Metro government employee, will serve as interim director while the Partnership performs a national search for its next leader, according to the statement.

Matheny joined the Downtown Development Corp. in 2007 and became its executive director in 2014, shortly after the development corporation and the management district came together.

The Partnership, through the development corporation, employs about 10 people. The management district uses a contractor for the people who clean up downtown streets, a service funded by the additional property taxes paid by downtown real estate owners.  

Downtown has been battered by business closures in the pandemic as tourists, convention-goers and office workers disappeared overnight. Last year’s racial justice protests briefly turned violent, with some buildings being vandalized and owners boarding up their windows.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s administration earlier this month released a roadmap to revitalize downtown after convening a committee of government officials and business representatives, which included the Partnership, for about four months of meetings.

“Louisville Downtown Partnership is a key partner in the vitality of our downtown,” Fischer said in the statement issued by the Partnership. “As capacity opens and tourists and employees return Downtown, and with the implementation of the Action Plan out of the Downtown Revitalization Team, we are ready to see a stronger and more welcoming downtown. Our thanks to Rebecca Matheny for her years of service to our community."

Matheny said that before the pandemic took hold, downtown’s progress was “pretty incredible” with new hotels, bourbon distilleries and other development over her tenure.

The combination of the organizations, which happened just before she took over, “delivered a better product for downtown,” she added.

“The boat was going in the right direction, and everyone was rowing the same way,” she said.

Reach reporter Chris Otts at 502-585-0822, cotts@wdrb.com, on Twitter or on Facebook. Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.