Executive director, Downtown Springfield, Inc.
By Shannon O’Brien
As a senior at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Lisa Clemmons Stott co-wrote a documentary called “Whatever Happened to Saturday Night,” about the demise of downtowns when malls became more popular. As the new executive director of Downtown Springfield Inc. (DSI), the documentary seems prescient. “I’m trying to bring Saturday night back,” she says with a laugh.
Her new role at DSI allows her to direct her energies toward revitalizing downtown Springfield. She believes a downtown is the face of a community and what makes a community special. “You should know when you’re in downtown,” she says. “There’s that character and uniqueness. You can tell the health of a city when you visit the downtown.”
She was invested in Springfield long before taking the lead role at DSI. “I’ve been talking and caring and building relationships in this community for a while now,” she says. Prior to accepting this position, she was selected by Mayor Jim Langfelder to be the city’s design and planning coordinator. She also co-chaired the city’s Sustainable Design Assessment Team planning and action committees, and has been a member of DSI’s board of directors.
Clemmons Stott is a wife, a mom, a writer, a runner and a small business owner. She grew up just north of Bloomington-Normal in a small town called Chenoa. Her parents were both teachers and some of her favorite memories are going camping with her family and their teaching friends during summer breaks.
After earning her degree in broadcast journalism, she came to Springfield to participate in a legislative internship program that Sangamon State University – now University of Illinois Springfield – offered. It was while working in the legislature that she met Terry Lutes, then chief information officer of Government Information Services. He became an important mentor to her. “The way he handled problem solving and creativity in government has definitely been a huge influence on my career,” she says.
Clemmons Stott owns Edgewise Consulting, a firm that offers strategic communications, public relations and fundraising expertise. In 2015 she was a nominee for New & Emerging Business Owner of the Year by the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce. She considers owning her own business one of her biggest professional accomplishments. “It was something I had wanted to do since my early 20s,” she says. She is project-oriented and enjoys learning new things, skills she knew would serve her well working with clients from different industries.
Her ability to take the long view of challenging projects keeps her focused – from starting her own business to envisioning downtown Springfield crowded with visitors. “I feel like I can see something at the end of the road that I know I can get to,” she says. “I know there will be the proverbial road bumps but sometimes you feel passionate and you need to make it a reality.”
Her goal for downtown: a lot of people. “My ideal vision for downtown Springfield is the feeling of community and business and density,” she says. “What I want to concentrate on this year at DSI is the concept of foot traffic. That means when you’re walking around, you feel safe because there are more people there walking with you.”
As the new executive director for Downtown Springfield Inc., she is ready to work with the community to start turning the ideal into a reality.
“It’s up to us to make sure
Shannon O’Brien is a writer and photographer at the University
of Illinois Springfield.