Madison Public Market Foundation Announces the Hiring of New CEO

The Board of Directors of the Madison Public Market Foundation (MPMF) is pleased to announce that Keisha N. Harrison has been selected to serve as the Market’s first Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In this role, Harrison will have responsibility for shepherding the final phases of the facility construction, lead the tenant build-out phase, and establish the Madison Public Market as the premier regional market location. She will provide strategic, operational, and financial leadership while fulfilling the mission and vision of the MPMF and the Market – to create a vibrant, year-round public marketplace where entrepreneurs and businesses owned and operated by women, first generation immigrants and people of color can get their start.

Harrison leaves her role serving as the Executive Director of the Indianapolis City Market Corporation. She led activities related to the operation and restoration of the historic city market. Duties included implementation of policies and procedures, vendor leasing operations, stakeholder collaboration, budget development and monitoring, strategic planning and organizing special events. Harrison worked to improve food access for the community with responsibility for a weekly farmers’ market operating alongside the City Market. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Dartmouth College and her Master of Science degree in Library and Information Science at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“I’m thrilled to join the vibrant community of Madison as CEO of the Madison Public Market Foundation. Together, we will create a dynamic and inclusive space that celebrates local food and entrepreneurship, and brings fresh opportunities to our city,” Harrison said.

Karen Crossley, President of the Madison Public Market Foundation, is pleased that this important element of the long-awaited project has come to fruition. “On behalf of the Madison Public Market Foundation that will serve as the Market’s operator, the City of Madison and the community at large, we are beyond thrilled to introduce Keisha Harrison as the Madison Public Market’s first Chief Executive Officer. Keisha brings abundant skills and talents to this position, and is enthusiastically and fully committed to bringing our shared community vision for the Market to life.”

The Madison Public Market Foundation (MPMF), a 501(c)3 organization, has been working closely with the City of Madison, community leaders and engaged local citizens for nearly two decades to build a Public Market. The Madison Public Market promises to be an inclusive, lively marketplace highlighting much of what makes the Madison community so special: locally grown and prepared delicious food, refreshing beverages and handcrafted artwork, jewelry, wearables, and collectibles. The Market will be a vibrant, year-round public marketplace where new entrepreneurs and long-established Madison favorites grow their businesses and achieve success.

The Market’s TruStage MarketReady Hall will house a food -oriented entrepreneurship and business center that will support small business owners who wish to grow, scale, and create food-related products. TruStage MarketReady Hall entrepreneurs will be offered shared, affordable access to commercial food production equipment and infrastructure that are often beyond the reach of typical low-capital start-ups.

The City of Madison is currently repurposing the former Fleet Service Building at the high-traffic corner of First and East Johnson Streets along the bustling East Washington corridor in downtown Madison. Following national best practices among the nation’s large public markets, the city will maintain ownership of the building while the MPMF will oversee the daily operation of the Market.

The former Fleet Services Building, located at 200 N. First Street dates back to the 1950s. It boasts a large open space with 45,000 square feet to house up to 30 permanent vendors, 100+ seasonal/temporary vendors annually, areas to host public/private events, a commercial kitchen, and large garage doors to welcome an open-air breeze during warmer months. Situated on 3.5 acres, the site will accommodate outdoor seating, live entertainment, food carts, and parking. To date, more than 230 applicants have expressed interest in vending within the Market.

MPMF is under the direction of a committed 16-member Board of Directors and is expected to have an initial operating budget of just over $1MM. The CEO position is MPMF’s first hire, the initial step in building a talented and dedicated team to carry out the mission and strategy of the organization. The Market is projected to attract 500,000+ visitors each year, support 130+ local businesses, create 100 jobs, and generate $16 million in local sales annually. The renovation was initiated in December of 2023 and the Market is currently scheduled to open in late Spring 2025.

Harrison will begin her position as CEO in mid-July. The Madison Public Market Foundation will notify the press and the community when she will be available for interviews after her start date. In the interim, Karen Crossley, President of the Madison Public Market, is available for interviews.

“The Public Market Foundation is dedicated to engaging neighbors and the community about creating the Market as a truly inclusive and captivating destination. I’m pleased that 2,000 people have been inspired to share their ideas and opinions on the Market. As the project moves forward, continued feedback will only make the Market a great success!” - - Larry Palm, City of Madison Alder District 12

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