Downtown dynamo shifts gears: Gould leaving Amherst BID but still taking care of business

Robert Mora, right, who is the building commissioner for Amherst, directs the placement of tables as Gabrielle Gould, the executive director of Amherst BID, holds a measuring tape as they prepare for outdoor dining, Friday, June 26, 2020 on North Pleasant Street. Tenzin Soepa, of MoMo Tibetan Restaurant, looks on.

Robert Mora, right, who is the building commissioner for Amherst, directs the placement of tables as Gabrielle Gould, the executive director of Amherst BID, holds a measuring tape as they prepare for outdoor dining, Friday, June 26, 2020 on North Pleasant Street. Tenzin Soepa, of MoMo Tibetan Restaurant, looks on.

Gabrielle Gould, executive director of the Downtown Amherst Foundation, and Lincoln Allen, the managing director, stand in The Drake before its opening on April 26, 2022.

Gabrielle Gould, executive director of the Downtown Amherst Foundation, and Lincoln Allen, the managing director, stand in The Drake before its opening on April 26, 2022. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

Gabrielle Gould, executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District, takes Rep.  Mindy Domb  and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern  on a tour of businesses  on May 3, 2023.

Gabrielle Gould, executive director of the Amherst Business Improvement District, takes Rep. Mindy Domb and U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern on a tour of businesses on May 3, 2023.

Gabrielle Gould, the executive Director of the Down Town Amherst Foundation stands in The Drake during its last phase of contemplation before it opens on April 26th.

Gabrielle Gould, the executive Director of the Down Town Amherst Foundation stands in The Drake during its last phase of contemplation before it opens on April 26th.

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 01-17-2024 7:05 PM

AMHERST — After more than four years of leading the Amherst Business Improvement District, undertaking projects including the creation of The Drake performance venue and assisting small businesses through the COVID pandemic, Gabrielle Gould will be departing her position to form a consulting business.

The third executive director of the Amherst BID, Gould, an Amherst resident, steps down on Feb. 22, though she will continue to oversee the Downtown Amherst Foundation and manage The Drake.

“I’ve walked into the office each day with passion, excitement, a million ideas on how to make downtown Amherst a vibrant, beautiful, and destination-worthy town for all to experience and enjoy,” Gould said in a statement. “The BID and downtown Amherst are in a great place and I feel that now is the perfect time for me to transition to a new chapter in my career.”

Barry Roberts, president of the BID board, said a search for Gould’s successor will begin in the coming weeks. Roberts said Gould has been a model for similar BID directors in the state. “The BID board is forever indebted to Gabrielle for her ideas, energy and integrity,” Roberts said.

Since being appointed in August 2019 to succeed Sarah la Cour, Gould’s work has included strengthening the BID’s relationship with town government and the colleges and university, teaming with the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce on COVID relief for small businesses, and producing events such as the Sip & Shop Stroll and Makers Market holiday event, and Fire & Ice for WinterFest.

Gould and her family moved to Amherst in January 2019 and, shortly after her hiring, began planning the BID’s fall events season, including the annual downtown block party that has resumed after a pandemic interruption.

In March 2020, Gould launched the nonprofit Downtown Amherst Foundation as a vehicle to promote arts and culture as an economic driver for downtown Amherst, just before the pandemic. Then, partnering with Claudia Pazmany, the executive director of the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce, the foundation distributed pandemic aid for Amherst businesses through its Microgrant and Resiliency Fund. Their efforts successfully raised and distributed over $300,000 in direct grants for over 100 small businesses.

State Rep. Mindy Domb- D-Amherst, credits Gould and Pazmany with helping keep commercial activity afloat during the pandemic, among their efforts purchasing and delivering personal protective equipment stacked in the Visitor Information Center.

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Domb saluted their creativity as well, noting the Dinner Delights program established in coordination with the Amherst Survival Center and Family Outreach of Amherst, a program that purchased meals from local restaurants and delivered them to families in need.

Sharon Povinelli, board treasurer for the BID, said that Gould was a voice for businesses struggling to get back on their feet.

“She was face to face in the street and got the attention of the State House to secure grants and funding that were a lifeline to small Amherst businesses during COVID,” Povinelli said.

Gould sees her legacy as The Drake, which opened in April 2022 with a sold-out concert by Dinosaur Jr. 

“The Drake made Amherst a player in the music scene,” said Tony Maroulis, the Downtown Amherst Foundation board president. “It has been an economic driver and a positive force in attracting new business to our downtown.”

Gould said she is committed to supporting the downtown and being an active community member.

“My family has put down roots here,” Gould said. “I’m an Amherst resident, a mother of an ARHS student, a UMass student, a champion of downtown Amherst and the area.”