Hope native Matt Lee has taken up the torch as executive director of Main Street of Hope, after Susan Thayer-Fye retired after nearly five years in the role.

Lee, a 1995 Hauser High School graduate, admits his interest in the position was sparked by an advertisement running on HSJ Online saying the executive director position would be open.

“Anybody that knows me knows I’m willing to do just about anything,” Lee says. “I always tell the guys I’ll try anything once. It’s just another thing I want to try. I’ve always loved the town of Hope. It’s always been a big part of my family, so I want to help Hope in any way that I can.”

Not long after he applied for the position he met with Fye at the Tonala Mexican Restaurant for what he thought would be a relatively quick 6 p.m. meeting, he says. After nearly three hours of conversation, the two knew Lee would be a great fit for the job.

Lee had an idea of what the position would entail prior to meeting and much of it fit his repertoire of skills, experience and interests to a “T,” he says.

When it comes to events and promotion, not to mention keeping up relationships with all the store owners on the town square, Lee says he has always enjoyed personal communication and interactions.

“My mom and dad both raised me that there is good in every person,” he says. “And so I like talking to every person. I want them to see the good in me.”

Of course, his role as CEO for the Night Owl Country Band doesn’t hinder matters any. Lee is well versed in event promotion, public relations, as well as with budgets and scheduling, Fye says.

The 44-year-old Hope native is already in the midst of establishing relationships and spearheading a checklist of ideas, events, and approaches for helping Hope continue to thrive and further stake out its mark for the surprising town it is.

Lee plans to flesh out the existing Main Street personnel structure by assisting with the process of bringing on new board members in the coming months.

“I will be filling those spots with like-minded people who are hard workers and want to have fun with what we are doing,” Lee says. “There are a few things I am a bit anxious about, but I will have help.”

During the transition phase, Fye and other Main Street member have offered their support to make it as seamless as possible, Lee says.
Lee couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity, he says, and knows it is going to keep him busy filling what little free time he has but is OK with that.

“This is something that is going to take the rest of my time aside from family time,” Lee, a CNC programmer with Christopher Stephens Corp, says.

“We like staying busy. The big thing for me is I’ve always liked doing stuff for the community.”

When Main Street of Hope was formed nearly five years ago, the thrust of the venture was the renovation of the Hope Square Project, Fye says. The recently completed project is a great example of how the community honors its local culture, she adds.

“If someone came to Hope for the first time and had never seen our Square, they probably couldn’t tell if the Square was finished 50 years ago or yesterday,” Fye says. “The truth is, the Square is the exact size and location that it was when the Moravians settled Hope.”

Fye goes on to describe the renovated space as the result of the combined effort of local individuals who came together to create a space that is inclusive and welcoming for all who come to visit.

Fye says one thing the organization prides itself on is honoring local history, respecting the local rural culture, and encouraging and supporting local businesses in the area.

“Matt Lee has grown up in the Hope area and has lived and experienced the positive results of this culture,” Fye says. “His support for all the great things which make Hope a unique and surprising little town will serve him well.”

As Fye looks back on her time with Main Street of Hope she feels nothing but gratitude for everyone who has been involved in the projects and events, she says.

And for those who know Fye, rest assured, she isn’t going anywhere, she says.

“I am not going away,” she says. “I will continue to be an active volunteer in the community and, hopefully, I can use my skills in other ways to promote Hope.”