As this challenging year winds down, the work of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) continues. DLBA’s Board of Directors remains engaged with the Downtown community on many fronts, as do DLBA’s public-facing committees. As part of our ongoing series, we would like to introduce you to Board Member Graham Gill and Placemaking Committee Member Fern Nueno.

Gill, a Long Beach native, is an alumnus of Long Beach Polytechnic High School and the University of Southern California, from which he graduated with a degree in Policy Planning and Development. He is a Senior Associate with the commercial real estate firm Lee & Associates and is also a Principal for GRG Brokerage and Development, where he manages a portfolio of commercial real estate assets in and around Long Beach.

“I represent the ownership of several assets in Downtown Long Beach, many of which we have redeveloped and taken through the change-of-use process,” said Gill. “We have invested in the area and attracted new tenants – Recreational Coffee, Rosemallows Bar, Rainbow Juices, Under the Sun, Yoga108, among others – who took a chance on an area that previously hadn’t been able to support higher-end neighborhood-serving businesses,” he noted.

“I’m on the Board to represent DLBA’s interest in growing Long Beach while attempting to maintain the diverse character of Downtown Long Beach,” said Gill. “Downtown Long Beach is in a unique, well-positioned place to grow . . . . Hundreds of new residential units are being delivered to the Downtown market, and the new residents will broaden the customer base for local businesses. The upward momentum has clearly been rocked by COVID; I think it is our job to do everything in our power to support the businesses and individuals that bring life to Downtown and keep it growing.”

When he’s not conducting business Downtown, Gill can often be found living the outdoorsman’s life, traveling frequently to the eastern Sierras to enjoy backpacking or snowboarding. He loves coming back to Downtown Long Beach and a community he enjoys for its creativity, accessibility, and the fact that it is still growing.

Fern Nueno, who serves on DLBA’s Placemaking Committee, is a Project Manager for the City of Long Beach’s Economic Development Department. “I wanted to serve on DLBA’s Placemaking Committee because I thought that with my experience in urban planning, livability, and economic development, this was where I could have the greatest impact,” she said.

Nueno previously worked as a planner for the City, focusing on long-range projects including the co-creation of Harvey Milk Park, the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, the development of parklet guidelines, and the Queen Mary Land Development Task Force.

Raised in Sacramento, Nueno earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Geography from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She went on to attain a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise from Louisiana State University, Shreveport.

“As a DLBA Placemaking Committee member, I hope to help residents and businesses transform and enhance Downtown into what they envision,” said Nueno. I would like to help complete projects that promote a livable, equitable, and vibrant Downtown where people appreciate and take advantage of all that Long Beach has to offer.”

Nueno takes every opportunity to partake of Downtown amenities and get some exercise. “Downtown Long Beach is a vibrant, urban, mixed-use area, very bikeable and walkable,” she said. “There is so much to do on a lunch break or after work. The historic buildings, beautiful architecture, wide sidewalks, art, beach and marina, and its parks and open space, make Downtown an interesting and pleasant place to be.”

Anyone who lives or works Downtown is encouraged to become involved with DLBA and learn about the resources, events, and volunteer opportunities available. “All of the Committee and Board meetings are open to the public,” said Nueno. “We welcome anyone to share any ideas, comments, questions, or suggestions, you are always welcome to share them.”