New director chosen to lead St. Mark’s Area Main Streets

Brianna MacGregor, Special to the Reporter
Jul. 25, 2013

Meaghan OvertonMeaghan Overton

Meaghan Overton, a South Shore native with roots in Dorchester, will replace Dan Larner as the executive director of St. Mark’s Area Main Street (SMAMS) on August 15.

Larner has served as the district’s Main Street director since 2000, and his highly successful term included leading the community through the redevelopment of the Ashmont MBTA station and Peabody Square. He is leaving SMAMS to pursue a new career in the government/public affairs sector.

Overton knows she has big shoes to fill, but said she’s excited for the challenge. Overton, who will turn 30 in August, is currently completing a graduate program in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University. She has been interested in urban planning since she was an undergraduate at Hollins University in Virginia.

“I took a class as an undergraduate in comparative urbanism, learning about cities in different parts of the world and how the culture built the city, and the city built the culture, and how those things interact. I was completely fascinated by all of it. And then I figured out that it was actual job,” Overton said, laughing. She decided to go back to school and pursue a career in urban and community development, and said this job falls perfectly in line with her interests.

Overton previously worked with SMAMS through a fellowship with the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, a program affiliated with the Harvard Kennedy School. She developed a project to expand and promote farmers’ markets in several Main Street districts, including SMAMS, and said she is thrilled to work with the SMAMS board more extensively.

“I’m very excited about [this opportunity]. It’s an amazing opportunity, and it fits in so well with all the things I’m interested in and the experiences I’ve had so far,” she said. “It’s going to be a hard job - there are a lot of things to do - but I think it’s going to be intensely rewarding at the same time.”

Tim Deihl, president of the SMAMS board, said that Overton was chosen out of a pool of qualified candidates because of her educational background and her interest in the needs and visions of the community.

“Dan Larner was a tremendous asset to the community, and he helped establish a strong infrastructure,” said Deihl. “Meaghan will help to market and brand the neighborhood, and build on top of that infrastructure.”

Overton praised the work of both Larner and the SMAMS board, and said she’s excited to keep the forward momentum.

“There have been a lot of amazing things happening in this neighborhood, and I’m honored and happy to be able to be a bigger part of them,” she said.

Overton’s first goal is to sit down with residents and business owners from the community, to talk about where they the community going. Working closely in conjunction with locals, Overton wants to begin her tenure by “building a new vision for what this neighborhood could be.”

Previously a manager for outdoor sportswear retailer REI, Overton was born on the South Shore of Massachusetts, and lived all over the East Coast before moving to Dorchester for a job promotion with the company. Overton’s mother went to nursing school at Carney Hospital, and met her father in Dorchester.

“I have roots here that I didn’t really realize until I moved here,” she said. Overton has enjoyed talking about Dorchester with her parents, and is making her own home here, as well. She has lived in Dorchester for about four years now, first in Cedar Grove and now in Ashmont. “This neighborhood is full of engaged, active people who care about each other, and care about their community,” she said. “There’s no other place in Boston I’d rather be living.”