CHAIR, WINDSOR TERRACE ALLIANCE
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Lifelong New Yorker Lauren Collins, whose day job is as executive director of the Church Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) has a knack for improving communities and their businesses.
Among her civic activism, Collins is a founding board member and chair of the Windsor Terrace Alliance, a neighborhood association to bring about improvements related to economic development. She is also a member of Community Board 7. “It gives me an ability to be in touch with things before they happen. It’s mostly advisory. I’m able to help out in a voluntary way and help get people be involved,” she said.
CAREER: As the executive director of the Church Avenue BID, Collins has dedicated her time and energy to the now-thriving area. “My goal (as executive director) is to pretty much to have it be more of destination for people for shoppers, as well as keeping it cleaner. Just getting people’s attention,” said Collins, who has held the title for three years.
Lots of good things are happening in the neighborhood and Collins is proud of one in particular. “Increasing the number of restaurants in Church Avenue has been a big accomplishment,” she said. “We recently wrapped up a program that promoted restaurant food cooking in the area.” Collins also helped organize soup kitchens in the area for the less fortunate.
And starting soon, Collins will also be the executive director of the Flatbush Avenue BID. “I’ll be doing both,” she explained. “It’s a great opportunity. There’s a lot of synergy between two.” Collins’ goals include seeing what the merchants’ priorities are and try to help them in those areas.
From 2007-2010, Collins was the executive director of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy.
MOTIVATION: Collins’ desire to improve the community is sparked by having a local point of view. “I live nearby. I see it. I have the perspective of shoppers that I’m trying to attract. We need to get more of those people coming in,” said Collins.
OBSTACLES: Making a change in the community is not always easy. “Some things take longer than I would like,” she said. “I’d love it if the area was cleaner. It’s disheartening when you see a garbagy area.” Collins does see improvement with the littering issues. “We’re always looking at different strategies,” she explained. “The first thing we’re doing is putting signs outside churches in multiple languages, encouraging people to help out. We find that signs usually help.”
PERSONAL LIFE: Collins moved to Brooklyn in 2005 and currently lives in Windsor Terrace. “I love Brooklyn. Having grown up in Manhattan, there was some resistance on moving, but I’ve become annoyingly Brooklyn-loving person since,” she said.