How did you learn about Wayne Main Street?
Initially I came across the posting and applied for the position not knowing a whole lot about Wayne Main Street. After applying I was able to do research on both Wayne Main Street and the Main Street model. I immediately became interested in the work the organization was doing, and the opportunity to make a positive impact in the City of Wayne.
Not really. I was able to learn about the organization by looking at the organization’s website and social media accounts. There is a lot of information online about Main Street and the Wayne program, so that is really how I became familiar with WMS.
I initially applied for this position because I was interested in continuing to work in the non-profit sector, but also to try something totally different from what I had done before. After learning more about the organization and the important work WMS undertakes, what struck me is that there was a tremendous opportunity to make a positive difference here in Wayne. It was evident throughout the interview process and my initial meetings with our board and committee members that the organization was committed to doing good and had good people involved. I felt that my skills in non-profit management and fund development would be a great fit and help the organization continue to grow.
It hasn’t been fantastically challenging, but one thing that is different as compared to the job I left is that Wayne Main Street follows a national model and an overall framework. There is a tremendous amount of flexibility in that structure, but you really have to try and understand the concept and philosophy of the Main Street approach to grasp why we do things the way we do.
So, in that regard there was a lot to learn, and I am still learning a lot about the Main Street model. The key is to always keep in mind that Wayne Main Street is one of 2,000 Main Street communities across the US, which means at any one time literally hundreds of communities have faced the same challenges as us. Also being able to draw upon such a vast reservoir of knowledge is so beneficial to our programming.
There are so many things that I enjoy about Wayne Main Street. I think the single most exciting thing about the organization is the variety of projects and initiatives we work on. In any given day I am able to spend time planning events, working on grants, program development, building new partnerships, etc. That array of tasks really breaks up the day and it’s a lot of fun coming to work. In addition to that, the people I have the opportunity to work with is great. From our volunteers, to city leaders, to our partner groups, there is always a lot of energy in our offices and it’s because we have great people working on behalf of WMS to improve our downtown.
Much bigger. On a couple of different fronts we need to grow the important programs and projects that we currently undertake. Staff and board are aggressively seeking new sources of funding to help sustain and grow our organization. In partnership with Michigan Main Street/MEDC we are one of the communities that is piloting the MAIN STREET REFRESH. Ultimately this will mean that our organization will adopt a specific strategy that will inform all of the projects we undertake. It will also mean that we need to make sure that we demonstrate the impact we have in terms of improving downtown Wayne and helping our community and local businesses succeed.
Michigan Main Street and the National Main Street Center does a fantastic job of providing training and orientation resources to new directors like me. In late January the program manager from Michigan Main Street met with me and provided a personal orientation and a training manual that have been very helpful. Additionally, I will be attending quarterly trainings throughout the year to keep up to speed with what is going on around Michigan and in Main Street Communities nationally. In early March I also attended New Director Training in Lansing, and I can’t tell you how helpful that was. Additionally, our board and community has extensive knowledge about the Main Street program and WMS specifically, so I also have learned a lot from working with those folks, asking a lot of questions, and continuing to be curious.
Educational background – I graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, VA in 2008 with a BA in Political Science/History. I am currently enrolled at the University of Windsor in the Graduate Studies program for Political Science.
I have worked in the non-profit field for 8 years. My work has primarily been in public health & HIV/AIDS work, focusing on fund development and volunteer coordination.
I think both my intellectual curiosity in history and public affairs really helps in my role at WMS because our focus on improving downtown Wayne starts by looking at revitalization through the lens of historical preservation. Additionally, our partnership with the City of Wayne on almost all our projects is so important to our organization.
In terms of my professional experience, because our organization is currently in a position where we need to find new sources of funding and increase the overall scope of our work; my experience in fund development is helpful in accomplishing these priorities.
I have worked for a number of non-profit organizations and you start to see a lot of similarities from organization to organization. I can say that even though the type of work we do at WMS is completely different from the work I had done in previous organizations, there are a lot of parallels. One example of this would be with funding; funding is one of the biggest challenges all non-profits face, and it’s up to organizations to come up with innovative solutions and programs in order to remain competitive for sources of support.
One difference I have found so far is that the community in Wayne is uniquely engaged in civic and community life. This is true with our volunteers who go out of their way to make our initiatives successful. The community also shows their support through engagement on social media and participation in our community projects. Key to our success long term will be harnessing that enthusiasm into projects that make a significant, sustained impact on downtown Wayne.
We really have a lot planned for the balance of the year, all exciting stuff that I am thrilled about. On an organization-level, continuing to roll-out the Main Street Refresh is a top priority. In terms of our programs, from the DIA Inside/Out Project to our Jazz on the Avenue event, to our beautification and improvement efforts there is a lot we are doing to help revitalize downtown Wayne. One project in particular that I am excited about is the development of a pocket park along W. Michigan Ave called Derby’s Alley. Once completed the alley space/park will serve as a community gathering and events space. Finally, in terms of being able to sustain Wayne Main Street we are seeking additional funding with the goal of investing in our programs and help make Wayne even better!