Marcia Rosenthall, 39; Led D.C. Business District

Friday, January 20, 2006

Marcia Rosenthall, 39, the executive director of the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District who promoted a cleaner, safer downtown Washington, died Jan. 15 at her home in Bethesda. Her death was ruled a suicide by gunshot to the head, according to the state medical examiner's office in Baltimore.

Since 1997, Ms. Rosenthall had guided the business improvement district, a 42-block neighborhood of pricy restaurants, law firms and other businesses that included parts of K Street, the 19th Street corridor and Connecticut Avenue.

She helped to energize the area with bright multilingual banners and hospitality "ambassadors" in black and gold on downtown street corners to assist business travelers and tourists. Some of the ambassadors also make sure the streets are free of trash.

"We are seeking a cleaner, safer and more hospitable environment," Ms. Rosenthall told the Washington Business Journal in 1999. "Everyone is concerned with the business community, and we are trying to promote all the diverse business in the triangle."

With her experience and knowledge of the public sector and the business community, she was known as an effective advocate for the city's central business district. She was the public face of the Golden Triangle and the engine behind the economic recovery, stabilization and growth in that area, said Carlton Diehl, a member of the group's board of directors and executive committee.

"Marcia successfully built a unique public-private partnership that benefited the city and the businesses, shops, restaurants and, most importantly, the people in the Golden Triangle community," Diehl said.

Ms. Rosenthall was born in New York, the daughter of a Reform rabbi. She grew up in Charleston, S.C., after her father accepted a position at one of the oldest Jewish congregations in the United States, Congregation Kahal Kodosh Beth Elohim.

She graduated from Mount Vernon College with a bachelor's degree in marketing, public relations and business. She then worked for seven years at Arthur J. Schultz and Co., a public relations firm in Washington, where she was an account manager.

In 1990, she became executive director for the Franklin Square Association. She also was a consultant for the Downtown Business Improvement District.

She then was recruited to create, develop, launch and direct the Golden Triangle BID. In that role, she established and oversaw the ambassador and homeless outreach programs.

She also oversaw the program's capital improvement projects and marketing programs. She spearheaded many successful programs for the group, most recently the launching of free wireless Internet access at Farragut Square.

She also was vice chairman of the board of DC Surface Transit Inc., the marketing arm of the DC Circulator.

Survivors include her mother, Irene Rosenthall of Charleston; and a brother, Gordon Rosenthall of Seattle.

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