Mary Means Leadership Award

Mary Means Leadership Award

Recognizing and celebrating outstanding leaders across the Main Street America Network.

Celebrating Outstanding Leaders

The success of a Main Street program depends upon the vision and determination of local leaders committed to community-led transformation. To celebrate these extraordinary individuals and to recognize the outstanding leadership of Main Street America’s founder, Main Street America recognizes exceptional leaders with the Mary Means Leadership Award.

Introduced in 2019 and announced annually at the Main Street Now Conference, the Mary Means Leadership Award is a celebration of outstanding leadership and recognizes the exceptional leaders who play a crucial role in shaping the Main Street movement.

The nomination period for the 2024 Mary Means Leadership Award is in the works.
Please see below for more information about the Mary Means Leadership Award nomination and selection process.

2024 Mary Means Leadership Award

Application: Members of the Main Street America community were invited to nominate a current employee or volunteer of a local Main Street Program or Coordinating Program that has an active membership for the 2024 Mary Means Leadership Award via our online portal late 2023/early 2024.

Selection Process:
Winners will be selected from a nationwide pool of applications by a jury of past recipients, Main Street America staff, external partners.

Ceremony: We look forward to recognizing the next recipient of the Mary Means Leadership Award at the 2024 Main Street Now Conference in Birmingham, Alabama!

If you have any questions about the Mary Means Leadership Award, please contact Steve Amraen at 312.610.5609 or


John Bry

Main Street America is proud to recognize John Bry, Program Coordinator at Main Street Oakland County (MSOC) in Michigan, as the 2023 Mary Means Leadership Award recipient. Nominated by colleagues, and selected by a national jury, John is being recognized for his ability to develop innovative ideas, build organizational capacity of local programs and leaders, and lead through understanding as a program coordinator.

John holds degrees in historic preservation and conservation, and has worked with Main Street programs in Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. In his current role as Program Coordinator at Main Street Oakland County, John has played a crucial role in growing the organization’s network of members, providing organization support to programs, and increasing the capacity of local leaders through professional development opportunities and mentorship.

“John’s respect of people, place history has transformed Oakland County’s Main Street program,” says Bret Rasegan, Manager of Planning and Local Business Development at Oakland County Economic Development. “His ability to lead, find common ground and build consensus on actions provides the environment for success across Oakland County.”



Patrice Frey

Patrice Frey, President and CEO of Main Street America, is a 2022 Mary Means Leadership Award recipient. Nominated by the organization’s board of directors and senior leadership, and selected by a national jury, Patrice is being recognized for her dedicated service to the Main Street movement, exemplary collaborative leadership, and entrepreneurial mindset. During her nine-year tenure, Patrice infused new energy, ideas, and vitality into the program, demonstrating that Main Street is a force for preservation-based economic revitalization across the United States, inspiring local leaders, and generating transformational economic impact and opportunity in over 2000 communities.

“Patrice has done an outstanding job of leading Main Street America over the past decade,” said Darryl Young, MSA Board Chair. “She has created an organization that is stronger today than it has ever been in its 40+ year history.”



Todd Wolford

Main Street America is proud to recognize Todd Wolford, Executive Director of Downtown Wytheville Inc., in Wytheville, Virginia, as a 2022 Mary Means Leadership Award recipient. Since taking the helm of the organization in 2016, Todd’s creative energy, strategic mindset, and coalition-building approach has breathed new life into the community. From spearheading capacity-building opportunities for local small businesses and historic preservation initiatives to securing economic development dollars and mobilizing resources to provide pandemic relief, Downtown Wytheville is blossoming under Todd’s leadership.

“I could cite even more statistics, such as a 55% increase in meals and lodging taxes collected, hundreds of volunteers, or [tens] of thousands volunteer hours, but I think his leadership has resulted in something else,” writes Mark J. Bloomfield of Bloomfield Partners. “The feeling in town is different. The demeanor of our citizens, business owners, and visitors is upbeat and positive about what they are experiencing throughout the community.”



Breanne Durham

Breanne Durham, director of the Washington State Main Street Program (WSMSP), was the 2021 recipient of the Mary Means Leadership Award. Selected by a national jury, Breanne was recognized for her collaborative and visionary approach, which empowers Washington State Main Street leaders to strengthen local economies, preserve historic assets, and work together to revitalize their communities.

“Washington State’s Main Street organizations are fortunate to have Breanne at the helm,” said Main Street America’s President and CEO, Patrice Frey. “Her leadership has motivated Main Street directors to collaborate and innovate to support Washington Main Streets, and the collective effort she inspired has drawn more communities to join the movement and bolstered local economies.”


Sharon Jablonski

Sharon Jablonski, the Director of Morganton Main Street in Morganton, North Carolina, was the inaugural recipient of the Mary Means Leadership Award in 2020. In her 30-year tenure as Director of Morganton Main Street, Sharon’s forward-thinking approach has turned downtown into a thriving entertainment district with a lively arts scene and strong local economy. This all is a direct result of Sharon's vision and leadership to make downtown a creative space for visitors.
“A Main Street program’s success depends on the commitment and vision of local Main Street directors,” said the National Main Street Center’s President and CEO Patrice Frey. “The transformation Sharon has led in Morganton has been remarkable, and her longstanding commitment to fostering community engagement, developing partnerships, and spearheading innovative development downtown is a model for strong Main Street leadership.”