Downtown Community Improvement District director hired by MU Health Care

Monday, July 21, 2014 | 7:38 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — After more than a decade of being involved with downtown Columbia, Carrie Gartner, executive director of the Downtown Community Improvement District, has found a new job with MU Health Care.

Gartner will take over as director of communications and public relations for MU Health Care. Her responsibilities cover direct supervision of MU Health Care's public relations and communications departments, according to an MU Health Care news release. She starts in August. 

Gartner's annual salary will be $110,000, said Mary Jenkins, MU Health Care public relations manager.

"The MU Health System is very impressive," Gartner said. "They have a fantastic team there right now."

Deb Sheals, a historic preservation consultant and member of the improvement district's executive committee, said the executive committee started the process of replacing Gartner on Monday. She said they haven't set a solid date for when they will announce the new director.

"Carrie has been very gracious in having this be a smooth transition," Sheals said. "We would like to get somebody as good and as involved as Carrie. We will be looking locally and nationally for her successor. We are being very open-minded about it."

Sheals said she has worked with Gartner since the early 2000s.

"She is very professional and passionate about downtown," Sheals said. "We are very grateful for her."

Gartner has worked within downtown Columbia since 2000. When Gartner started out, though, the community district hadn't yet been formed.

According to the improvement district's website, for over 30 years, the Columbia Special Business District and the Central Columbia Association worked together to promote The District's economic growth. In 2011, the two entities merged to form the improvement district.

Gartner said "it's a good time to move on" and that she is excited for her next step forward in a new environment like MU Health Care.

Gartner has a wealth of experience in the communication field, with a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Utah and her master's and bachelor's degrees in speech communication from California State University at Fullerton, according to the news release. She said her experience as the improvement district's executive director will aid her at her new job.

"In a sense, the District is similar to the health system because you have to make sure the public is aware and everyone is working together," Gartner said.

With the changing media and communication landscape and the explosion of the internet and social media, Gartner said her goal is to further embody these changes and benefit from these new forms of communication.

"They are trying to make communication more strategic," Gartner said. "External and internal communication is so important right now. The first step is to really talk to people who work together and get a sense of what they need and use new media as a way to further that goal."

Teresa Snow, a news anchor and reporter for KRCG-TV in Jefferson City, will take over as corporate director of strategic communications and media relations of MU Health Care in September, according to the news release. 

Snow's annual salary will be $130,000, Jenkins said.

Supervising editor is Samuel Hardiman.

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