Excellence on Main Award

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Mary DesMarais

Award: Leadership on Main

Year: 2022

City: Gig Harbor

The year was 2009, when Gig Harbor’s newly formed Main Street organization hired Mary DesMarais to take the con of what is now lovingly referred to as “The Alliance”. If you ask any of Mary’s fellow local directors today, they’ll tell you that Gig Harbor is known for having a director who really knows the ropes and a board that is chockablock with dedicated and professional volunteers. But it wasn’t always such smooth sailing for Mary and her crew. It’s been through tremendous perseverance, hard work, and dedication to relationship-building that The Alliance has earned the reputation as a safe harbor for the small businesses and partners that make up the historic downtown waterfront district.

To quote one of her peers, “Mary is a steady voice of reason, influence, and support.” It’s a truly daunting task to try to summarize the impact that someone like Mary can make on their community. We can learn a lot about Mary’s leadership style and the Alliance’s strength as an organization through how they navigated the uncharted waters of the pandemic. While most of the world was all at sea, Mary and crew leapt into action. They became champions for public safety, the consistent and reliable source for information, and the creative engine that kept programming alive downtown. Mary is deeply connected to and respectful of her small business community, so we all bore witness to her incredibly impactful response to their ever-changing needs.

Mary is a natural leader. She seems to effortlessly lift up and highlight the skills of others around her. She cares deeply about her people – her staff, her board and volunteers, her businesses. Mary is truly a captain whose crew matters to her above all else.