Leadership Change Coming to the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association

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The board of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association (AIR) has announced that Jane Anderson, their long-time executive director, will be stepping down in 2022.

Anderson shared her decision with the membership in the organization’s newsletter on October 27th. “The sign of a good leader is knowing when it is time to step aside. After great thought and deliberation, I have decided that it is time for me to leave AIR,” Anderson said.

In explaining her decision, Anderson noted that AIR is at a critical juncture in its history. “Since the arrival of Covid-19, life has changed for all of us. We have had to think differently about the way we work and do business. How things used to be is not how things will be moving forward. It is clear to me that the challenges our independent restaurants face in a post-Covid world require fresh thinking and leadership.”

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The search for Anderson’s replacement will begin immediately. “Our goal is to have the new executive director selected by year-end and in place in the first quarter of 2022,” said Board Chair Kevin Barnes (Ultimate Ice Cream). “We are working closely with Jane to ensure that this is a smooth orderly transition. It is what we all want and what the members of AIR deserve.”

Barnes noted that during Anderson’s nine years leading AIR the organization’s membership has increased over 150% and grown in stature and strength. “We are on solid footing, thanks to Jane. She navigated us through our most challenging year, advocated for what we needed with city and county leaders, organized a vaccination clinic for our members, and worked tirelessly on our behalf.”

In 2020, Anderson and AIR received the William A.V. Cecil Tourism Award from Explore Asheville, the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau for their exceptional leadership in making the Asheville and Buncombe County a special place to live and visit. “There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Jane will be a tough act to follow,” Barnes added.

As for her future plans, Anderson said that she looks forward to continuing her support for AIR in an unofficial capacity while exploring new opportunities in the community. She concluded her announcement with a quote from Tom Peters, noted business author and speaker — If the window of opportunity opens, don’t pull down the shade. “My window is wide open, and I have no intentions of pulling down the shade.”

Visit airasheville.org for additional information.