260 Seconds with Megan Butler of Riverfront Fort Wayne

As a teenager, Megan Butler couldn’t wait to move to one of America’s great cities. She was convinced Fort Wayne had nothing to offer. After living in Boston for a year, though, she realized a city’s greatness doesn’t just happen. People have to do their part. So, when she returned to her hometown, she devoted her career to making it great. In her role as program and events manager with Riverfront Fort Wayne, Butler’s mandate is to get people excited about the city’s rivers.

How do you get people excited about the rivers they’ve known about forever?

It starts with hosting fun, educational events such as the Riverfront Film Series. Last year, we partnered with the Girl Scouts to show Troop Beverly Hills. (Shelley Long, the star of the film, called local radio stations to promote the screening.) I also correct misperceptions about the rivers, like about the cleanliness of the water.

How do you correct these misperceptions?

We design events to attract diverse crowds, so people can see the rivers are for everyone. Videos and photos of me holding up a bottle of river water to show its clarity helps too. Boston’s Charles River has similar pollution challenges, but it’s home to America’s largest rowing community.

Ten years from now, what do you want to be most proud of accomplishing?

New York has Times Square and Central Park. I want the rivers to be like that for Fort Wayne.

What would people find most surprising about your job?

It’s mainly project management–scheduling, recruiting, raising funds and forming partnerships. I get to be creative and drive myself insane with my perfectionism.

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