Excellence on Main Award

Mari Mullen

Award: Leadership on Main

City: Port Townsend

In 2018, Mari Mullen celebrated her 20th year as Executive Director of the Port Townsend Main Street Program. With two decades of experience, Mari is the longest-standing Executive Director of a Main Street Community in Washington’s history. However, her claims to fame include much more than longevity alone.

As the director of a Main Street program, Mari is responsible for all aspects of the organization, from managing programs, volunteers, promotions and engagement, to serving as an advocate for the historic districts and downtown business community. Along with support from her board of directors, volunteers, and program coordinator Dawn Pierson, Mari has led the organization with abounding energy and determination over the last 20 years.

PTMSP is known statewide as a leader in successful promotions and business support programs. Among these are Merchant Coffee Talks, the creation or resuscitation of numerous special events such as Concerts on the Dock and the Uptown Street Fair, loan programs to support business and property owners, and disaster preparedness plans for buildings.

Mari is a tireless advocate for the historic business districts. The Port Townsend Main Street board credits Mari’s patient, positive, and never yielding leadership for the organization’s strong partnerships and standing in the community.

One example is currently visible on Water Street. With another major street project looming, the City approached PTMSP to help them proactively mitigate construction impacts. PTMSP stepped up to manage a widespread communication plan, including volunteer management and promotional initiatives to benefit the business district during construction.

Mari is known across the state for her Main Street know-how, dedication to preservation, and for the business leaders and successful promotions she has patiently cultivated over the years. Above all, we know Mari for her solutions-oriented attitude and her willingness to mentor others, traits that benefit all of us who know her.

Excellence on Main Award

John Baule

Award: Leadership on Main

Year: 2020

City: Yakima

For over a decade John Baule has worn so many hats and taken care of so many tasks, that he has become a beloved public face of downtown Yakima. If you aren’t a Downtown Association insider you may not know he hosts their annual Christmas party in his home every year (for which he prepares many delectable dishes), but you would certainly recognize him as the “Wrist Band Man” keeping the entrance to the Downtown Summer Nights concerts running smoothly.

Even before the Downtown Association of Yakima was formed, John was treasurer for a preceding downtown effort from its first day to its last. Once DAY was founded, John continued to serve as treasurer… and bookkeeper, payroll manager, budget planner, tax expert, and more! He quietly takes all this on himself, reliably putting in volunteer time every week.

In addition to his board leadership, John is active in DAY’s Organization Committee and as a consummate event volunteer. Aside from the gate at Downtown Summer Nights, you’ll see John doing double shifts selling scrip at festivals, checking IDs during Sip & Stroll, answering questions at the farmer’s market information booth, and is often seen hauling tents or weights at  – as DAY executive director Andrew Holt puts it – the tender age of 71. He is also a major player in DAY’s flower program, working diligently with staff in the selection and purchase of flowers, volunteering on planting day, and acting as the City liaison on the program.

John makes serving as an ambassador of DAY to city, public, and other stakeholders look easy, partly because he brings his credibility and knowledge of Yakima history from over 25 years he spent as executive director of the Yakima Valley Museum. Having John’s leadership on the DAY Board and Organization Committee is second only to having his corny humor and overriding sense of good will to brighten them.

By taking the lead in so many aspects of Downtown Association of Yakima’s work and giving so generously of his own expertise, John does what all good leaders do – he enables the rest of the DAY team to do more work more effectively in its mission to strengthen downtown.

Excellence on Main Award

Barb Smith

Award: Leadership on Main

Year: 2019

City: Kent

A leader is someone who inspires others, who lifts others up and provides them with the direction, resources, and freedom to accomplish their goals and be part of the team. For these reasons, and many more, we are pleased to recognize Barb Smith with our 2019 Leadership on Main Award.

Barb was hired as the Executive Director of the Kent Downtown Partnership in May of 2009 and will be celebrating a successful ten years and a well-deserved retirement later this summer. Under her leadership, KDP has improved the appearance of downtown, created and honed its promotions, developed a solid fundraising strategy, and successfully recruited small businesses to the district.

While none of this is insignificant, if you ask me, Barb’s greatest legacy in Kent is the team that she has developed, led, and inspired over the years. She has become a student of the Main Street Approach and worked to educate the KDP board and volunteers about its merits. While she is integrally involved in all of KDP’s committees, she has mastered the art of leading volunteers by empowering them to be creative, productive, and focused on what inspires each of them to serve.

Barb has emphasized partnerships in everything she has done for KDP – the great relationships the program has with the city, downtown business and property owners, volunteers, and donors can all be credited to Barb’s relationship-oriented approach to community revitalization.

Barb loves to celebrate her people and their successes. She is quick to acknowledge the hard work of others and slow to take any credit for herself. It is this type of leadership that leaves a true legacy. KDP is an organization with many leaders, not just one – and each of them has risen to the occasion because they have been inspired by Barb.

As long-time volunteer Greg Haffner puts it, “Barb has organized us, inspired us, motivated us and kept us focused on improving Downtown Kent and preserving the history there. The pride within the organization reflects Barb’s leadership and is visible downtown.”