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.


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.

Past Recipients

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.”



Breanne Durham

Breanne Durham, director of the Washington State Main Street Program (WSMSP), is the 2021 recipient of the Mary Means Leadership Award. Selected by a national jury, Breanne is being 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.”