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Sunnyside Shines Hires New Executive Director, Has Background in Fundraising and Arts

March 1, 2017 By Hannah Wulkan

The Sunnyside Business Improvement District has appointed a new executive director who is from a fundraising and arts-related background.

Jaime-Faye Bean, who has lived in the Long Island City/Astoria area for the past 15 years, took over the position Monday, looking to help local businesses thrive and plan community programming.

Faye-Bean is stepping in to the shoes of former Executive Director Rachel Thieme, who left the position after more than four years on the job. Throughout her time she instituted many new programs with the help of the BID’s marketing committee, including Sunnyside Restaurant Week and Thursdays in Bliss Plaza, to help boost business for retailers in the business district (see map).

Thieme officially left on Friday to move across the country to Portland, Oregon.

As a longtime western Queens resident, Bean said that when she heard about the job with Sunnyside Shines, she decided it would be “an exciting way to apply her nonprofit management skills to a neighborhood that is very exciting and on the upswing.”

Sunnyside Shines district

While Bean does not have a lot of business experience, she said that her background working with non-profit fundraising and art advocacy will help her with the new job.

“My fundraising background taught me a lot about building and sustaining relationships over time, and though with the BID there are different types of relationships, and different types of stakeholders, at the end of the day it’s all about knowing how to build positive relationships make your interactions and connections positive for everyone,” Bean said.

Bean spent her career working in fundraising for non-profits, ranging from Weill-Cornell Medical College to the ASPCA.

Most recently, Bean worked as the executive director of an art non-profit called ArteEast, a group that “advocates and supports Middle Eastern artists’ and arts organizations’ engagement with U.S.-based arts communities and audiences,” according to its website.

She said that working at ArteEast gave her the “first entree into working with local officials and on more community-based programming,” which she hopes to apply to the job in Sunnyside.

Much of her past work has also involved event planning, which will be of use to the new position.

Bean said she looks forward to helping local businesses. While she has not owned a business herself, she grew up in rural Vermont and watched many family members struggle to maintain their small businesses.

“I grew up seeing what a struggle it can be and what it means to a family to have everything invested in a business,” she said.

“It gave me an appreciation that people invest their heart and soul in to their business, and that they are not just dealing with a financial contract, but an emotional contract with the community and neighborhood.”

Though she has only been on the job for two days, Bean is looking toward the future and continuing to expand the BID’s programming.

She said that she is already in the process of planning summer and fall programming, including at both neighborhood plazas.

At Bliss Plaza, she is planning to introduce more art-focused activities throughout the warmer seasons, and will be using a grant from the Queens Council on the Arts for music programming in the plaza.

She also is hoping to host more fitness related activities at Lowery Plaza during the summer and fall.

“Rachel [Thieme] left such a strong foundation for me, it’s more just a question of tweaking things, trying new events, and seeing what gets the best response,” Faye-Bean said. “We’re here to enhance the quality of life in Sunnyside, and we are looking to the residents to give feedback.”

John Vogt, chairman of the BID, said the BID was attracted to Bean because of her fundraising background and was not so concerned about her lack of business experience.

The BID, Vogt said, is always looking for extra sources of revenue that they hope Faye-Bean will bring in. The BID has increased its expenditures in recent years and has raised the levy/assessment it charges property owners (passed on to small businesses) from $300,000 to $360,000 per year.

“We wanted an Executive Director that brought the skills that Rachel had—organization, readiness, creativity, management skills, and on top of that we wanted someone who could help raise money,” Vogt said.

Rachel Thieme with Jimmy Van Bramer and board members Artie Weiner (far left), Christopher Winchester (second from left) and John Vogt (far right)


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Click for Comments 

Im not surprised with this outcome; how many of these employees who represent sunnyside grew up in sunnyside?

Juan julio

Why isnt one side of the sunnyside sign in spanish? It should be in english on one side and spanish on the other side. We out number any other ethnic group, why aren’t we honored with sunnyside in spanish on one side?

El loco

It is true and I have a brother named Al.

You have to be the biggest moron around taking me seriously. Go tell your mommy to make dinner for you and get a life.

Not mac or el loco

Yeah right! el loco and ellie loco, get out of here. So funny. Oh wait ,can i say that or am i going to be censored. How come el loco didnt get censored he called me dough head, thats a mean spirited comment. People everywhere that are made of dough will be offended . Somebody stop el loco, and his fictional wife. (Shhh, dont say nothing, he really believes she exists)

Not mac or el loco

He doesn’t have a wife, what woman would deal with this idiot. However if hes gay, no man in his right mind would put up with him either

Crystal Wolfe

I liked Rachel Thieme–she did a fabulous job but is sounds like their new director will be a wonderful addition! Very good article.

El loco

Rachel was spectacular and a very beautiful women. She brought glamour to SUNNYSIDE. My family and I and SUNNYSIDE will miss her!

El loco

Why did Rachel leave her shoes for Fay Bean to step into? Doesn’t she own her own shoes. Good luck Fay, we’re rooting for ya. Get a pair of new shoes! Don’t use Rachel’s old ones. Why is there no picture. There was always a picture of Rachel.


isn’t the sunnyside chamber of commerce and the sunnyside business improvement district the same thing? Do we really need two of them competing with each other.. Time to cut some government programs…


The CofC is private. The BID is sponsored by the city, makes business owners pay to improve landlord property then the landlords raise the rent and drive them out of business. And the city helps them! What a great deal, right? They hire a talented person who means well and whom you can’t possibly blame for the damage they are causing to stores you have loved for decades. They are not in on the dark side. Examine the BID board of directors. There lie the poisoned daggers.


If Ms. Thieme grew up in rural Vermont I am sure she knows about ticks. Maybe she can help us make maple syrup. Good luck.


Now all we need is someone that knows what they are doing with experience to take over JVB’ s position.


Sunnyside chamber of commerce and the Sunnyside Business improvement district are the not same thing? Seems kind of redundant to have two…


The BID formed a few years ago to make landlords rich. The CofC formed decades ago to help small business people work together to form a stable community. Two different reasons for existence.


Nothing against the new person but the BID wants only to put the decades-old C of C in the grave. For months and months its board members have spoken with full-throated hatred of the grass-roots organization that gave Sunnyside a core identity through goodwill and hard work for so, so long. The BID is a tick swollen to the point of bursting from gorging on money sucked from business owners, city coffers and grant makers. Sunnyside has no independent identity anymore. It is just a cell in REBNY, Inc. They will raze and build, raze and build and raze and build until this place is nothing but a field of tall glass on the long western slope of Long Island. That’s what they want because that will make them richer. Ticks never have enough.

Heywood Jablomey

Hardly a conspiracy. Just look around you at what’s happening in the neighborhood. All these ugly, oversized developments are real.

anonymouse replying to anonymous

you sound like an angry nut. “build and raize until its nothing but a field of tall grass” that doesnt even remotely make sense.


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