June 12th, 2021

Downtown BRZ director terminated only months into job

By Al Beeber on May 12, 2021.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

Tulene Steiestol has been terminated from her position as executive director of the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone.
Steiestol was hired in November to replace Ted Stilson after he retired at the end of 2020.
The BRZ on Tuesday afternoon released a statement to its members reading “On behalf of the Downtown BRZ board of directors, we would like to inform you that we have made the decision to release Tulene Steiestol of her duties as Executive Director effective May 6, 2021.
“After reviewing the best strategic direction for our membership we will begin a search to fill the position. Melissa Johnson, our long-standing Clean Sweep Program Manager, will be acting as Interim Executive Director.”
The letter was signed by Downtown BRZ chair Justin Tavernini.
When Steiestol was hired, then board chair Hunter Heggie said “Tulene’s energy enthusiasm and experience are exactly what is needed right now in our city. She is the perfect person to enhance and expand what Downtown Lethbridge has done in the past, as well as having the skill set to help lead us in a new direction, guiding us through these changing times into a bright future.”
Steiesol’s career, said a story in The Herald when she was hired, “primarily focused on serving the community in stakeholderdriven, not-for-profit tourism marketing and management organizations with world-class destination in the Alberta Rockies including Canmore and Jasper.”
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As a downtown Lethbridge business owner I am appalled by the actions of the Downtown BRZ Board and members. As a community we conducted a far and wide search, diligently investigated and chose someone who had more than enough qualifications. Really a change agent for our city. And when they came in, under very difficult and challenging times, we terminate them just to go back to more of the same? I mean Ted was good but was on autopilot and we grew off the graces of high oil prices – a rising tide floats all ships.
However with challenges in the economy, Covid and our ever growing opiod/drug crisis here in town, to bring in new blood and a new direction/leadership and our business ‘leaders’ chose to not only let this woman do her job, but instead immediately dismiss her and go back to more of the same? Melissa has been much of the same as she worked under Ted and having just returned from Maternity leave – this reeks of a total and utter slime job by Justin and this board.
I have to seriously consider my business, family and needs. I can’t see myself staying in the downtown core when there are so many other growth opportunities in West Leth/Crossings.

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