Roanoke’s Center in the Square president set to retire

Dr. Jim Sears has spent 30 years with the organization

Center in the Square has been Dr. Sears' passion for over thirty years.

ROANOKE, Va. – Over the years, Center in the Square is known as a cultural staple for Downtown Roanoke.

But for president Dr. Jim Sears, Center in the Square has been his passion for the better part of 30 years.

“There was this building, that one building, and that was it. Now we’re running about five buildings, so we’ve grown over the years. We have more organizations than we did at one time,” Sears said.

Center in the Square looks a lot different than it did 30 years ago, largely in part to Dr. Sears’ contributions, including Kid’s Square.

“Kid’s Square was filling a gap that we didn’t have in Roanoke,” Sears said. “If you can have a children’s museum, you can serve the kids and their families and always be active.”

But now it’s time for Dr. Sears to pass the baton along to newly elected president, Tara Marciniak.

“I feel great. She and I have worked together for four and a half years. She’ll take Center farther than I have,” Sears said.

But this isn’t the first time that Dr. Sears has tried to retire – He retired for only a few months in 2014, only to return as president for nearly another decade.

“The last ten years have been very exciting,” Sears said. “So were the first twenty, but looking back at it thinking I was going to retire ten years ago, and look at what we’ve done in the last ten years.”

Looking back at his time with the center, there is a lot for Sears to reflect on.

“I started here with a very small budget, and shortly after coming here we had to make a major change in employment of personnel because of the state’s withdrawal of $600,000 with no promises of it to come back,” Sears said.

Sears is leaving behind a legacy of progress and success for not only Center in the Square, but for the entire city of Roanoke.

“I’m glad that we continue to prosper, even in times that others were not,” Sears said. “It just takes a lot of work, a lot of commitment, and knowing what you’re going to do. it’s important to have that understanding and commitment and act on it.”

This time, when Dr. Sears retires, he says he’s going to stay retired - at least, that’s what he plans to do.

About the Author:

Abbie is a multimedia journalist finishing up her senior year at Virginia Tech. You can watch her report on weekday evenings.