Upendo Shabazz Staff Report

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — After serving on the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) Board of Directors for since 2014, Upendo Shabazz has been selected to become its new chairman. Rob Samuels was selected to serve as vice chairman for the 2016-2017 term. Shabazz succeeds former chairman Howard Pincus, who served in the role for three consecutive terms.

“Downtown West Palm Beach is sustaining its remarkable resurgence and is now booming with an eclectic mix of offices, retailers, restaurants, and arts and entertainment venues. The DDA has played a key role in this success to enhance the area by working diligently with business owners, residents, visitors and government to create a vibrant, high-energy downtown that keeps people coming back again and again,” said Shabazz, who is regional vice president of Allegany Franciscan Ministries for the Palm Beach region.

“Last fall, we worked with local gallery owner Nicole Henry to launch the largest outdoor museum show in the world, adding a rich new layer to the downtown’s brand appeal. On the heels of CANVAS, the DDA played an integral role in bringing The Swings to Clematis Street, which attracted approximately 34,000 visitors. We have even more exciting plans in store for this fall,” said Shabazz. With two years of experience as a member of the DDA board, Shabazz has a strong grasp of what’s next in the district’s development. She plans to guide the DDA’s strategies and find more ways to showcase the Arts & Entertainment (A&E) District and enhance the visitor experience. She also plans to emphasize the continuation of strong support for the county’s economic development outreach and efforts to attract new businesses here.

Born in West Palm Beach and raised in Tallahassee, Shabazz returned to Palm Beach County 20 years ago. Shabazz earned both Bachelor and Master degrees in Social Work from Florida State University and is certified in Leadership and Management from University of Miami. She is founding board member for Florida Nonprofit Alliance and Impact the Palm Beaches. She currently serves on the board of Prime Time Palm Beach County. Shabazz is a member of the West Palm Beach Chapter of the Links, Leadership Palm Beach County, and the Blue Ridge Leadership Institute.

She has served the Palm Beach County community for more than a decade through her work with United Way of Palm Beach County, and previously served as United Way’s vice president of Community Impact. Prior to that, she was a consultant for six years writing grants and coordinating Project Harmony programs under the Department of Safe Schools for the Palm Beach County School District.

Rob Samuels is an accomplished local business owner and successful entrepreneur. As partner in a series of jewelry stores across the South Florida area, Samuels operates Provident Jewelry with locations in West Palm Beach, Naples and Jupiter. He is also the co-founder of the Palm Beach Jewelry & Antique Show. He earned his bachelor of science in business management degree from the University of Florida and a graduate degree in Gemology from the Gemological Institute of America.

Created in 1967 by a special act of the Florida Legislature, the DDA has evolved over the years into a vital organization responsible for shaping the look and feel of the Downtown District, and helping its businesses to grow and prosper. Legally mandated to attract, retain and market a distinctive mix of retail, dining, office, entertainment and cultural venues within its taxing district, the DDA also leads a coordinated plan to address and improve economic development, public services, safety and the overall quality of life Downtown.

For more information about the DDA or Downtown West Palm Beach, please visit downtownwpb.com or call the DDA at (561) 833-8873.