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Elizabeth Townsend has been named vice president/general...

Elizabeth Townsend has been named vice president/general manager of Townsend Leasing. She will be responsible for overseeing all leasing operations in the downtown leasing office.

When Townsend joined her father and brother in the family-operated automotive dealership a year ago, she became a member of the third generation of Townsends to sell and lease cars in San Diego. Her grandfather started the business in 1927 selling Studebakers.

“My grandfather had a dealership on the corner of State and B downtown,” Townsend said. “I remember the little jingle he had on the radio, and I still run into customers of his who are now in their 70s and 80s.”

Townsend, 32, is a graduate of Stanford University with a degree in history. After living in Florence, Italy, for seven months studying art, she moved back to San Diego and earned her master’s degree in business administration from the University of San Diego.

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Despite family tradition, Townsend did not immediately jump into the automotive business. Her first job out of college was assisting the vice president of the Metro YMCA of San Diego County. Before her arrival at Townsend, she spent two years as an account representative for the Adcentive Group, a San Diego-based specialty advertising company.

“My father and brother came to me and said, ‘You’re selling ads, why not cars?’ ” Townsend said. “My father had thought of starting a leasing company, and he wanted to teach me the business.”

Townsend said she wanted to get involved in what she sees as the “renaissance of downtown.” “Thirty years ago, there used to be all dealerships here in downtown,” she said.

“Our leasing company is geared toward the professional or downtown person. Leasing is for everybody, but professionals in particular seem to like how it fits into their life style of a new car every two years.”

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