Editor’s note: Welcome to our new blog series, District Marketing Mojo. Each month, Verdin President and CEO Mary Verdin interviews a leader in the world of marketing and communications for special districts and business improvement districts. Check back here regularly on our blog for new interviews.
If I picked five words or phrases to describe the City of Atascadero’s Deputy City Manager, they would likely be: Community-minded, Leadership, Experienced, Event Organizer and Tourism Advocate. And though Terrie Banish excels in these areas, there is so much more to what she brings to her position in charge of Atascadero Events, Promotion and Outreach.
Atascadero, a vibrant small city nestled in San Luis Obispo County near California’s Central Coast, is fortunate to have a tireless advocate and community leader in Terrie Banish. With a wealth of experience spanning 35 years, Terrie has made a significant impact on the city’s growth and development. Her dedication to community service and her ability to organize successful events have made her an invaluable asset to the City of Atascadero and its residents.
Terrie’s journey as a community leader began 25 years ago when she first started volunteering for various local organizations. Her contributions to the Chambers of Commerce for Atascadero and Paso Robles, the YMCA, Paso Robles Main Street Association, Atascadero Lakeside Wine Festival Committee, and Friends of Atascadero Library for the 2019 Dancing with Our Stars laid the foundation for her passion for community development. She also served on the Paso Robles Library Foundation Board and the Foundation of Hearst Castle and is currently serving on the Tenet Health Central Coast – Twin Cities Hospital Board, further emphasizing her commitment to education, community and culture.
In 2015, Terrie’s extensive experience and dedication led her to assume the role of Deputy City Manager – Promotions, Outreach & Events for the City of Atascadero. In this position, she coordinates outreach efforts, manages media relations, and enhances tourism opportunities for the Atascadero TBID, Visit Atascadero. Her efforts have been instrumental in expanding popular events like the Hot El Camino Cruise Night to include Dancing in the Streets and introducing what has become the wildly popular Tamale Festival to Atascadero.
Terrie’s creativity and leadership have breathed new life into events such as the Winter Wonderland celebration and the annual Brew at the Zoo at the Charles Paddock Zoo. She has collaborated with the North County Farmers Market to move the weekly market location back to the downtown Sunken Gardens and external associations to successfully bring notable events like the Central Coast Craft Beer Festival, Central Coast Cider Festival and Atascadero Fall Festival to the city, attracting visitors from near and far. Terrie has truly helped position Atascadero as a unique and inviting destination within San Luis Obispo County.
Terrie says she is humbled by the city’s strong community focus. From the multitude of city-sponsored events to working closely with nonprofits and creating a business-friendly environment, Atascadero strives to serve its residents in a variety of ways. A couple of examples: the downtown monthly promotion known as First Fridays, which hosts free concerts, pub crawls and events to get people into downtown businesses, and the City’s restaurant loan program, which supports local businesses and further strengthens the community fabric.
Terrie’s dedication to Atascadero is unwavering, and if she had $1 million to spend on her city with no red tape, she says the Charles Paddock Zoo would be a good investment. Recognizing the importance of recreational spaces for families and visitors, she says the zoo’s facilities provide an opportunity to expand its offerings, making it a true gem within the community.
When asked about her accomplishments and aspirations, Terrie emphasizes that while financial constraints can sometimes pose challenges, the City of Atascadero is committed to finding creative solutions. From the City Council to the City Manager and staff, they work diligently to address the needs and priorities of the community. Terrie points to the success of projects like their recent tax increase measure D-20, passing with a clear majority, as examples of how the city is continuously striving to improve and meet the expectations of its residents. The measure, approved in November 2020, is anticipated to bring in $12 million its first three years.
Reflecting on her work, Terrie loves the moniker Atascadero has as the “county’s living room,” and knowing that their events and friendly hometown environment bring joy and a sense of community to residents and visitors to Atascadero.
Outside of her professional endeavors, Terrie’s personal interests and influences are diverse. This is illustrated by the three people, dead or alive, she would choose to have dinner with: her late father, Mick Jagger, and Johnny Depp. Her father’s recent passing makes this opportunity particularly meaningful, while the allure of Mick Jagger’s musical talent and business acumen captivates her. Additionally, the enigmatic personality and creativity of Johnny Depp make him a compelling and interesting choice for this imaginary gathering.
Terrie was named Atascadero Citizen of the Year in January 2020. This is a tribute to her community-mindedness, extensive experience, volunteer spirit and remarkable leadership, which have contributed in no small part to Atascadero thriving before, during and now after COVID. Through her tireless efforts, she continues to drive growth, promote community events and tourism, and enhance the quality of life for residents. Terrie’s passion for Atascadero and her unwavering dedication to its success make her a truly exceptional community leader.