Downtown Austin Alliance picks next leader

Dewitt M. Peart takes over Feb. 2 as the new Downtown Austin Alliance president and CEO. Dewitt M. Peart takes over Feb. 2 as the new Downtown Austin Alliance president and CEO.[/caption]

Dewitt M. Peart will become the next Downtown Austin Alliance president and CEO, the advocacy group announced December7.

Peart, who takes over the position February 2, replaces Charlie Betts, who retired at the end of last year after 18 years with the downtown organization. Peart, who goes by De, will step down from the Allegheny (Penn.) Conference on Community Development where he is executive vice president of economic development and public affairs. His roles also include president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce and president of the Pittsburgh Regional Allianceboth affiliates of the Allegheny Conference, according to DAA.

"I am truly excited about this opportunity," Peart said in a statement. "Downtown Austin is the heart of such a dynamic region and the economic driver for the entire Central Texas economy. It's hard to follow a leader like Charlie Betts, but I welcome the opportunity to work with our downtown stakeholders and partners as well as the entire community."

In a statement, Betts applauded the Peart hire, explaining he has the qualities needed to excel in the new role. Peart worked at various real estate development companies earlier in his career and most recently served as president of Pittsburgh Regional Alliance. Under Peart's leadership, the PRA has closed more than 250 economic development deals over the last six years, according to a news release.

"I am very proud of the progress that the DAA has made over the past 18 years as downtown Austin has been transformed from a college town to a competitive global city, and I am confident that [Peart] will provide the leadership needed to continue the momentum."

DAA is an an advocacy group seeking to preserve and enhance downtown's value and vitality.
By Joe Lanane
Joe Lanane’s career is rooted in community journalism, having worked for a variety of Midwest-area publications before landing south of the Mason-Dixon line in 2011 as the Stillwater News-Press news editor. He arrived at Community Impact Newspaper in 2012, gaining experience as editor of the company’s second-oldest publication in Leander/Cedar Park. He eventually became Central Austin editor, covering City Hall and the urban core of the city. Lanane leveraged that experience to become Austin managing editor in 2016. He managed eight Central Texas editions from Georgetown to San Marcos. Working from company headquarters, Lanane also became heavily involved in enacting corporate-wide editorial improvements. In 2017, Lanane was promoted to executive editor, overseeing editorial operations throughout the company. The Illinois native received his bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and his journalism master’s degree from Ball State University.