New head of Greater Ashmont Main Streets is banking on her small business background

Elle Marrone took charge of the Greater Ashmont Main Streets as its new executive director on Feb. 1

Dorchester’s Elle Marrone has dropped the leashes from her former neighborhood dog walking business and grabbed the reins as the new executive director of the Greater Ashmont Main Streets (GAMS) program. She is hoping to help small business owners like herself and grow the district in new and different ways.

Marrone had operated Dorchester Dog Walking for seven years, serving customers from Gallivan Boulevard to Ashmont-Adams to Melville Park, but sold the business in October 2023 to pursue something new and different. That different path has now become the directorship of GAMS, a position she started on Feb. 1.

“Something was missing for me when I sold the business,” she said in a recent interview. “I was surprised at first because the biggest loss for me was the daily connection with my neighbors. … This job is primarily a support system to my neighbors once again, so it was a great fit.”

After growing up in Arlington and heading off for a decade to New York City to study Urban Studies at Columbia University, Marrone returned to Boston and settled in Dorchester. Now, staying close to home with her husband, Matt Weinburg, and being in the neighborhood is a priority.

“In my 20s I was longing to see the world and in my 30s I am most interested in putting down roots,” she said. “I live and work in the same community and my mom lives in Carruth Building…I like to get up and walk around and meet people, whereas the academic route kept me indoors researching, but my strength was meeting with people.”

At GAMS, she has inherited a strong board that kept things going through the transition, but also has empty seats and needs some reinvigoration.

“I see my position as a community cheerleader getting volunteers re-energized for our mission,” she said. “It is nice that I have previous relationships with some board members.”

Along with sparking the board, she said it will be important to get young people more involved. “Our events skew older, and they have a lot of legacy knowledge, but in order to continue this movement and momentum, we need to involve our younger folks,” she said. “I’m thinking of a chess club on the plaza or live music outdoors catering to young people.”

For now, the program is continuing the Dorchester Jazz Fest, which includes two final concerts on April 11 (7:30 p.m.) and May 18 (8 p.m.) in All Saints Church, and the 17th edition of the Ashmont Farmer’s Market. She said they will change the time this year, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. to 2p.m. to 6 p.m. at the request of anchor vendors. In future years, she hinted at more changes.

“I will not be changing very much, but I look forward to subsequent years changing the location, perhaps changing the day to increase attendance and increase the size of the farmer’s market,” she said. “The plaza limits the tents to 15 total. If we don’t have a diverse array of vendors, we run the risk of watering down or not providing any one service very well.”

The Farmer’s Market will start on July 12 and run through October.

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