Main Street America Leadership Council Spotlight

August 26, 2021 | Main Street America Leadership Council Spotlight |  
From upper left to lower right: Michael Wagler, Chair, Main Street Iowa; Gayla Roten, Vice Chair, Missouri Main Street Connection; Bill Fontana, Secretary, Pennsylvania Downtown Center; Committee Member Emeritus: Laura Krizov, Michigan Main Street; Larry Lucas, Colorado Main Street Program; Daniel Gutierrez, New Mexico MainStreet; Breanne Durham, Washington Main Street Program; Jenny Boulware, Main Street South Carolina; Ray Scriber, Louisiana Main Street; Mary Helmer Wirth, Main Street Alabama

What makes the Main Street Movement so powerful is its grassroots network of support across the country. One of the key pillars of support for the Main Street Network is the Main Street America (MSA) Leadership Council. This group of eight Main Street Coordinators and one Main Street Design professional are responsible for providing key guidance to MSA and the national Main Street Movement. Working in close partnership with MSA, the Leadership Council plays a critical role advancing the goals of MSA and the 1200-member network, as well as serving as a liaison between MSA and their 44 Coordinating Programs. These Coordinating Programs are partner organizations at the state, county, and city level that provide support and training to local Main Street America communities. Leadership Council members are elected by fellow Coordinating Programs for a three-year term.

We chatted with Michael Wagler, Main Street Iowa State Coordinator and Chair of the Leadership Council, to learn more about the Leadership Council’s priorities for the year ahead, notable accomplishments, and more. 

Why is the work of the Leadership Council so important to Main Street?
The Leadership Council gives a strong voice to the Main Street Coordinating Programs that make up the foundation of the work of Main Street America. In the end, the Leadership Council’s work is about building relationships and strengthening our network. Each of the Leadership Council members represent different regions, so this group not only builds relationships among Coordinators in their region, but also among Coordinators across the country.  

What are the Leadership Council’s main goals and priorities for the coming year?
One of big things we want to focus on is using the Leadership Council as a connecting entity between the MSA staff and MSA’s Coordinating Programs. One of the ways we make that connection is through the Leadership Council members’ regional calls with Coordinating Programs in their area. We want to make sure we’re strengthening the national network—whether that’s gathering input from Coordinating Programs and disseminating it or acting as a sounding board for MSA. 

Another element of our work over the past few years has been assisting MSA with updates to the accreditation process. Communicating those accreditation changes will be a big part of this coming year. The Leadership Council helped guide much of the earlier conversations relating to these important changes to the national accreditation. We also will continue to act as a voice for the Coordinating network through MSA’s strategic planning process. 

What are some of the other responsibilities of the Leadership Council?
Leadership Council members meet monthly as a group, facilitate regional calls, and take the lead on developing meetings for all MSA Coordinators each spring and fall. During the pandemic, the Leadership Council continued to convene monthly Zoom meetings and organized quarterly Coordinator meetings beginning in the summer of 2020 to share best practices and ensure the network could stay connected. As new Coordinators come on board, we support MSA in welcoming them to the Network.

What are some of the Leadership Council’s biggest accomplishments?
We do a lot of support work behind the scenes and develop task forces based on hot topics in Main Street. For example, when MSA membership agreements are set to be updated, we develop a task force to ensure updates are made from a Coordinating Program perspective. Education and professional development for Coordinating Programs is also a focus for us. This is primarily done through meetings we have with all the Coordinators in the spring and fall. We determine hot topics that are going to be beneficial and bring in relevant speakers. 

Another point of success for the Leadership Council occurs each spring and fall at the Coordinator Meetings. The Leadership Council plays a key role in organizing these networking and educational interactions for Main Street Coordinating staff from across the country.

How does being on the Leadership Council benefit local communities in a Coordinator’s home state, county, or city?
When Coordinating Programs are represented on the Leadership Council, it’s providing a strong voice for the needs and successes of a region’s Coordinating Program. For me, having Iowa represented in Main Street’s national conversation brings added recognition for our local program’s efforts and increases the credibility of our Main Street movement in Iowa. 

Being on the Leadership Council has allowed me to build strong relationships between colleagues across the country and gain an understanding of how Main Street programs are operated in other areas. This has helped me better understand how to support our program in Iowa and our other colleagues. Building those relationships has also helped me be a better advocate for Main Street programs in my state and across the country.  
Learn more about the Leadership Council here.