Mary Means Leadership Award

Mary Means Leadership Award

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


Celebrating Outstanding Leaders

Since its founding, the Main Street program’s success has depended upon the vision and determination of leaders committed to community transformation. To celebrate these directors and recognize the outstanding leadership of the Main Street program’s own founder, Main Street America introduced the Mary Means Leadership Award in 2019.

Announced annually at the Main Street Now Conference, the award is a celebration of outstanding leadership and highlights the critical role that leaders play in shaping the Main Street movement.

Applications for the 2022 Mary Means Leadership Award are closed.
Stay tuned for more information about the 2023 call for nominations!


Nominee must be currently employed by or volunteer (including Board Members) with a local Main Street program, UrbanMain program, or Coordinating Program. Applicants must have an active Main Street America membership.

Applicants will be asked how the nominee:

  • Builds local capacity
  • Leads through strategy
  • Brings together diverse stakeholders through shared vision
  • Demonstrates commitment to continuous learning
  • Advances a preservation ethic in their work
  • Exhibits innovation and ingenuity

Supplemental Materials: Letters of Support from local stakeholders, including Board, local officials, district business/property owners, residents, etc.)

Selection Process

Winners will be selected by a jury including Mary Means, past years' winners, Main Street coordinators, and Main Street America board members and staff.

You can submit a nomination for someone else or submit a nomination for yourself.


Recipients of the award are recognized at the Main Street Now Conference.

The winner will receive $1,000 professional development stipend for the Main Street America Institute and a $500 professional development travel stipend, an invitation to the VIP reception at the next in-person conference, a press release for local media, and a special feature on the MSA blog.



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.”