As part of a monthly series, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) is proud to present profiles of three members of its Board of Directors. Two of them bring a small business perspective to the Board, and one provides an influencer’s viewpoint from the vibrant Long Beach arts community. All three of these individuals continue to help DLBA move forward during these rapidly-changing times.
Board Member Johanna Cunningham, born and raised in Sacramento, holds a degree in Organizational Behavior from the University of San Francisco. She lived in Long Beach for many years and developed her business here. Her company, National Short Term Rentals (NSTR), is a one-stop shop for property owners who are participating in the fast-growing short-term rentals field, providing them with legal and educational resources as well as networking opportunities.
A passionate advocate of Downtown small businesses, Johanna encourages the community to rally behind them. “There is so much that is offered by small businesses in the Downtown area and they need our support,” said Cunningham. “DLBA staff is motivated and dedicated to creating a positive Downtown environment. I appreciate the opportunity to help the City move forward.”
“DLBA responded quickly to COVID-19 and the social upheaval in late May,” continued Cunningham. “There is ongoing concern and attention to these matters. DLBA is aware that these are ‘moving targets,’ but we are remaining engaged and ready to take appropriate action when needed.”
Cunningham cites her mother as a major influence in her active role in the community. “When I was a teen,” said Cunningham, “my mother taught me to get involved, be aware and not to complain when something doesn’t go my way. If you don’t get involved, you leave choices for others to make. Your voice matters and so does your viewpoint.
Board Member Griselda Suarez is the Executive Director of the Arts Council for Long Beach. “I serve as an advisor to the Board, and I want to provide a non-profit perspective as well as uplift Downtown arts and culture in conversations,” she said.
Originally from East Los Angeles, Suarez graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont with degrees in Art and Spanish. She went on to earn both an MA and an MFA in Creative Writing from New College of California.
“This is a great time for our Long Beach artists and performers because I believe our local creative community is based in community and action,” said Suarez. “Many of our artists have continued to inspire action and accelerate healing throughout the pandemic and social protests with murals and music. The Long Beach arts scene is genuinely interested in a cultural shift, and we get to witness the power of expression through our artists.”
Board Member Patty Wirth loves watching Downtown locals and visitors visit her adjoining Shoreline Village dessert shops, The Funnel House and Ice Cream & Yogurt on the boardwalk. “Shoreline Village is a unique outdoor experience where you can take a walk, ride a bike, watch the sunset, then grab a delicious treat,” said Wirth. “I do love to see the kids’ faces when we hand them a chocolate-dipped waffle cone, a hand-twisted churro or a funnel sundae. That makes my day.”
Wirth, who grew up in La Crescenta, graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a degree in Communications. She worked for Xerox Corporation and a frozen yogurt company before purchasing her own yogurt franchise with a childhood friend.
“My goal as a DLBA Board Member is to support and improve how the DLBA uses its funds on public projects that will improve Downtown, especially in the Waterfront area,” Wirth said.
Downtown residents as well as business and property owners are invited to make their voices heard: For involvement opportunities with the DLBA Board of Directors, please visit the DLBA website at www.downtownlongbeach.org.