We’re proud to announce that Main Street America has named the 2021 recipient of the Mary Means Leadership Award: our very own Washington State Main Street Program Director Breanne Durham!

Named for the founder of the National Main Street Program, the Mary Means Leadership Award honors Main Street leaders who build local capacity, lead through strategy, exhibit innovation and ingenuity, bring together diverse stakeholders through a shared vision, demonstrate commitment to continuous learning, and advance a preservation ethic in their work. “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.”

Breanne was nominated jointly by the executive directors of all 36 Washington State Main Street Communities, who credit her unflagging encouragement for supporting local groups during the pandemic and motivating them to achieve their goals. “With long-term vision and short-term execution, Breanne is both prophet and shepherd in facilitating success for our state’s Main Street Communities,” said Chris Moore, executive director of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, which manages the WSMSP which manages the WSMSP on behalf of the Washington State Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. “Her dedication has brought increased interest in Main Street and growth in the number of Main Street programs that now operate in Washington State.”

During her five-year tenure as director, Breanne has established the program as a mainstay within state government. In one of her first initiatives, she conducted an extensive public outreach process that established a clear set of rules for the WSMSP’s operation and created much-needed clarity for existing programs and new members. The early success also positioned the WSMSP to seek additional funding through the state’s Main Street tax incentive, which allows business owners and local governments to receive a tax credit for donations to Main Street programs. Thanks to Breanne’s advocacy, the legislature voted to expand the cap on the tax credit from $1.5 million to $2.5 million statewide in 2018.

When the pandemic hit, Breanne brought together a task force from Washington, Oregon, and Ohio to develop an overarching COVID-19 response strategy. This effort helped give Main Street directors the tools to confidently take the lead in their communities and help their small businesses navigate the crisis. In a year when the pandemic devastated small businesses nationwide, Breanne pushed to launch an impact study that illustrates why Washington’s Main Streets are vital to the state economy. The study shows that from 2011 to 2019, every state dollar invested in Main Street has returned $1.58 to the state in the form of tax revenues—making the case that public and private funding for Main Street programs delivers a significant return on investment.

A program of the Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation, managed under contract by the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the WSMSP serves 36 Communities and 30 Affiliate members across Washington State. For more information, visit preservewa.org/mainstreet.

Read the Main Street America announcement here.