Beckie Conrad, the executive director of L/A Excels and a key player in several community revitalization projects over the past five years, announced Monday she would step down from the post early this summer to open a home and garden business in Auburn.

“This is really an opportunity for the organization to take a look at the next five years,” said Conrad, who has led L/A Excels since it was formed in 1998.

She plans to open Rsen Home and Garden in July. The shop will be located next to Austin’s Fine Wine and Foods on Main Street in the space where Physicians Billing and Consulting of Maine used to be.

Conrad, who is part owner of Austin’s with her husband, Audie, said opening another business downtown is a testament to the growth of Lewiston-Auburn’s potential over the last five years. Bolstering the Twin City’s confidence and improving it’s image has been a major aim of the nonprofit L/A Excels.

“It’s certainly going to be a tough position to fill,” said L/A Excels board member Lucien Gosselin. “Beckie has been the spark plug of the organization since the beginning.”

Linking different organizations in Lewiston and Auburn and “getting people to sit down together to think seriously about this community” are a couple of the LA Excels’ biggest accomplishments, according to Conrad.

The group’s Community Conventions spawned ideas like the downtown convention center, an art center, a museum and improved green space in the area.

She said she has especially enjoyed working with so many different facets of the community – from arts groups and environmental organizations to business developers.

Conrad will stay with L/A Excels through June 30. The group’s board of directors plans to put together a “transition” team until they decide how to fill the space, she says.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.