Main Street Oakland County program coordinator honored with national Main Street Leadership Award

At their national conference in Boston, Main Street America announced that John Bry, program coordinator at Main Street Oakland County (MSOC) in Michigan, is the 2023 Mary Means Leadership Award recipient.

This award is the organization’s top honor recognizing individuals who demonstrate outstanding leadership in the field of comprehensive preservation-based economic development and commercial district revitalization. The award amplifies the critical role that leaders play in shaping the Main Street Movement.

"Our Main Street communities provide the unique environments that make our downtowns vibrant and lively,” said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. “When it comes to attracting and keeping businesses and residents actively engaged in their communities, John Bry and Main Street Oakland County are playing vital roles in improving the distinctive nature in the county’s town centers.”

Nominated by colleagues, and selected by a national jury, Bry is being recognized for his ability to lead and develop innovative ideas and help organize local initiatives.

“Main Street coordinators play vital roles as conveners, mentors, and advocates,” said Hannah White, Interim President and CEO at Main Street America. “And John Bry is exemplary in these roles and many more. John’s passion for historic preservation and ability to rally local leaders around the Main Street Approach have made a lasting impact on countless communities.”

As program coordinator at MSOC, Bry has played a crucial role in growing the organization’s members from 19 to 28, including three communities that had previously left the program. His hands-on approach to providing guidance to communities can be seen in his work with Main Street Pontiac, where he assisted in transforming the board of directors to better reflect the community, securing sponsorships to fund their business and façade grant program, and helping the organization establish better communication with city government.

This year, twelve Oakland County communities met the challenging performance standards required to receive national accreditation from Main Street America: Berkley, Clawson, Farmington, Ferndale, Franklin, Highland, Holly, Lake Orion, Ortonville, Oxford, Rochester, and Royal Oak.

The MSOC coordinating program was launched in 2000, and eight communities have received national accreditation for 10 or more years.

“Main Street communities in Oakland County look to John and his leadership, and the support he provides through training, community vision, and innovation,” said the directors and downtown managers of Main Street Oakland County. “He helps shape many of our community programs and initiatives, which in turn help our communities thrive.”

Bry nurtures strong relationships among the program’s diverse communities and supports the professional development of local downtown managers through Main Street Now Conference scholarships.

“John has made a lasting positive impact on the many downtown managers, board members, and businesses that collectively make up Main Street Oakland,” says Bret Rasegan, Manager of Planning and Local Business Development at Oakland County Economic Development. “What sets John apart is he is simultaneously both student and teacher: when he learns, he gives back and when he gives back, he learns.”

Main Street is a trademarked program of the National Main Street Center. Oakland County is the first and only county in the U.S. to operate a full-service, countywide Main Street coordinating program. From 2001 to 2022, the select level MSOC communities generated almost $1.08 billion in public and private investment. More than 1,300 net new businesses have been established and nearly 8,000 new full-time jobs were created. Over 493,000 volunteer hours have been invested in organization, promotion, design and economic development committee projects, tasks, activities and events by committee members, residents, businesses and property owners.

Main Street America leads a movement committed to strengthening communities through preservation-based economic development in older and historic downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts. For additional information, visit


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