National Main Street Center, Inc., Staff

Patrice Frey, President and CEO

PatriceFreyPatrice Frey is President and CEO of the National Main Street Center, where she oversees the Center’s work, offering technical assistance, research, advocacy, and education and training opportunities for Main Street’s network of approximately 1,100 communities. Based in Chicago, Illinois, the National Main Street Center is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and has participated in the renewal of more than 2,000 older commercial districts during its 30-year history. Before joining the National Main Street Center in May 2013, Patrice serviced as the Director of Sustainability at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where she oversaw the National Trust’s efforts to promote the reuse and greening of older and historic buildings, including research and policy development work through the Seattle-based Preservation Green Lab.

Before joining the National Trust, Patrice worked for several years in the field of community development and urban research. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's program in historic preservation, where she received a master's degree in preservation planning and a certificate in real estate design and development through the Penn School of Design and Wharton Business School. Patrice completed her master's thesis on the application of the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards to historic buildings. Patrice also worked for the City of Goleta, California, where she coordinated the acquisition and preservation of coastal open space, as well as a number of community development related programs. Prior to her time in Goleta, Patrice worked for the Brookings Institution’s Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy in Washington, D.C., where she served as the executive assistant to the center director. She received her bachelor's degree in politics and international relations from Scripps College in Claremont, California.

Matt Wagner, Ph.D., Vice President of Revitalization Programs

matt wagner 1Matt has more than 20 years of non-profit management experience in downtown development, entrepreneurship and tech-based economic development.  At NMSC, Matt is leading the launch of the renewed and re-imagined Four Point Approach, as well as helping the Center reach new communities with this refreshed framework. Overseeing the Field Services team, Matt also leads the Center's efforts to expand technical service offerings, and offer preservation-based economic revitalization services directly to communities.

Before joining the Center in September 2015, Matt served as President of SC Johnson’s Redevelopment Corporation in Racine, Wis.  Previous to SCJ, Matt led the Center for Advanced Technology and Innovation at Gateway Technical College and University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he also served as UW-Parkside’s Director for the Small Business Development Center and Director of the Solutions for Economic Growth Center. Prior to this, Matt served as Executive Director of the Downtown Racine Corporation. Notably, Matt worked as “Road Warrior” for the National Main Street Center between 1995 and 1998. From 1991 to 1995, he led the Sheboygan Falls Main Street as Director, during which time Sheboygan Falls was chosen as an inaugural Great American Main Street Award winner. Matt received his Ph.D. in Urban Affairs with a specialization in Urban Economic Development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is currently designated as a Fulbright Scholar Specialist candidate in the area of entrepreneurship and economic development.

Field Services

Kathy LaPlante, Senior Program Officer and Director of Coordinating Program Services

MSstaff_Kathy2013-webKathy La Plante is a Senior Program Officer and Director of Coordinating Program Services at the National Main Street Center with expertise in building organizational capacity and developing promotional programming. She has worked in the Main Street field for nearly 25 years and the Main Street conference in Detroit will be the 25th she has attended. She joined the staff of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s National Main Street Center in May 2007. She works throughout the U.S. providing training for cities of all sizes using the Main Street Approach® to downtown revitalization.  Prior to this position, she was hired as the first Director of the New Hampshire Main Street Center, serving in that role for over ten years.  She was responsible for initiating the statewide New Hampshire Main Street Program, and providing technical assistance to 23 designated Main Street programs. Ms. La Plante began her Main Street career in 1989 as the Executive Director of the Chippewa Falls Main Street Program. Seven years later, Chippewa Falls was a recipient of the Great American Main Street Award. Prior to working in downtown revitalization, Ms. La Plante spent 12 years in retail management including, for ten years, as manager of Spurgeon’s Department Stores in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout.  Please click here to view Kathy's listing in the Allied Services Directory.

Norma Ramírez de Miess, Senior Program Officer and Director of Leadership Development

Norma Ramirez de MiessNorma Ramirez de Miess helps communities across the nation assess organizational and programming needs and implement strategies that build successful revitalization efforts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in language and science and studied civil engineering with an emphasis on transportation. She has more than 20 years of leadership experience in international heritage tourism, entrepreneurship development, disaster relief, nonprofit management, and direct local Main Street efforts. Born and raised in a family of entrepreneurs and community leaders in Latin America, Norma has a solid understanding of our increasing diversity. She developed the National Main Street Center’s diversity services and leads initiatives that promote inclusion and understanding of the process of involving and understanding the business approach of multi-cultural entrepreneurs. Norma has also been involved in developing international collaboration with organizations and governments that are implementing the Main Street Four Point Approach® in Taiwan, Mexico, and Panama. Before joining the Center, Norma led one of the largest and most diverse urban downtown revitalization programs in Elgin, Illinois, where she was honored for her leadership and contributions. She was also recognized as one of the 25 Most Influential Latino Leaders in the Chicago-land area.  Please click here to view Norma's listing in the Allied Services Directory.


Steve Amraen, Associate Manager of Network Services

SteveAmraenSteve Amraen rejoined the National Main Street Center in December 2013 as the Associate Manager for Network Services.  In this role Steve is responsible for managing the Membership and Licensing Agreements with our Coordinating Programs, overseeing our Allied Membership program and providing support for GAMSA.  Steve previously worked with the National Main Street Center as a Program Assistant from June 2010-December 2011.  Before returning to the Center, Steve worked for James Hardie Building Products most recently as a Logistics Analyst.  He graduated with a degree in Planning, Public Policy & Management from the University of Oregon.

Rachel Bowdon, Content and Education Manager

Rachel BowdonAs the Content and Education Manager, Rachel manages the development and implementation of the Main Street America Institute and other key elements of the Center’s professional development training opportunities. She also leads the member communication efforts of the Center, including  social media, updating and maintaining the website, NMSC’s news publication, Main Street Weekly, and coordinating the content for Main Street Now. Prior to joining NMSC in 2013, Rachel worked for the Sustainability initiative and Preservation Green Lab at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She graduated with a degree in Art History from DePaul University and received a Masters in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Anna Brinley, Program Assistant

Anna BrinleyAnna joined the National Main Street Center in 2015 to support the launch of the Main Street America Institute—the Center’s signature educational and training program focused on strengthening the knowledge and skills of Main Street professionals. As such, she works closely with the Manager of Content & Education and the Director of Leadership Development assisting with logistics, coordinating contracts and services, and promoting the Institute. Previously, she worked in Staff Engagement & Internal Communications at the World Bank Group in Washington DC, as a tour planner for the Young Preservationists Association in Pittsburgh, and as an AmeriCorps*VISTA in Philadelphia. She studied French and architecture in Paris, France, and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in History and History of Art and Architecture.

Paul Fajnor, Controller

paulPaul joined the National Main Street Center as Controller in June 2015. Paul is responsible for oversight and direction of the National Main Street Center’s financial operations, organizational risk management, compliance and internal controls, analysis and reporting, and maintenance of systems for accounting records. Prior to NMSC, Paul worked for the Alliance for Audited Media, where he worked as an accounting and financial executive for 20 years. He is a Certified Public Accountant with extensive experience and skills, including traditional accounting and finance, strategic planning analysis, financial management and reporting, information systems management, human resources, and risk management. Paul graduated with a degree in Accounting from Western Illinois University.

Jodie Hiveley, Program and Development Coordinator

JodieJodie Hiveley joined the National Main Street Center in March 2014 as the Program Assistant. In this position, Jodie assists with coordination of events, administrative tasks and providing broad programmatic support to the NMSC. She is also responsible for donor research and helping to build relationships with individual, foundation and corporate supporters. Prior to joining the Center, Jodie worked as the Regional Volunteer Coordinator for the American Red Cross, Greater Chicago Region. She graduated with a degree in History from the University of South Carolina and received a Masters in International Relations from University of New South Wales.

Talirenla Jamir, Operations Assistant

taliTalirenla Jamir joined the National Main Street Center as the Membership Assistant in April 2014. In this role, Talirenla supports the membership team by performing administrative tasks, maintaining correspondence and payments, and helping provide service to NMSC’s members. Prior to NMSC, Talirenla worked as an elementary school teacher in Milwaukee, teaching in some of the city’s most underserved communities. Talirenla graduated with a degree in English and Secondary Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Emily Wallrath Schmidt, Associate Manager of Communications

emilyEmily joined the National Main Street Center in 2015 as the Associate Manager of Communications. Emily’s responsibilities include managing social media, updating the website, and preparing NMSC’s news publication, Main Street Weekly. Most recently, Emily worked in North Carolina as a Historic Preservation Consultant specializing in historic rehabilitation tax credit applications. Before that, she served as the Historic Preservation and Grants Associate at the Historic Chicago Bungalow Association. Emily received her M.S. in Historic Preservation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her B.A. in Art History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Lindsey Wallace, America Saves! Project Manager

lindsey2Lindsey Wallace joined the National Main Street Center as the America Saves! Project Manager in May 2014. In this role, Lindsey connects Main Street communities with America Saves!, a national model program led by the Preservation Green Lab of the National Trust for Historic Preservation that focuses on delivering energy efficiency to small businesses and buildings, driving cost savings, and new investment in existing buildings. Prior to NMSC, Lindsey worked at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the Preservation Resources Department. A native Ohioan and Midwest enthusiast, she received her M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University in 2008 and her B.A. in History from the Ohio State University in 2005.

Hannah White, Manager of Programs and Services

Hannah_WhiteAs Manager of Programs and Services, Hannah oversees a diverse portfolio which includes maintaining and growing the National Main Street Center’s membership base, developing and administering member-related benefits and programs, curriculum development for the National Main Streets Conference and online trainings, and providing support and direction for other special initiatives at the Center. Prior to NMSC, Hannah worked in the Public Policy department at Chicago-based Donors Forum. She graduated with a BA in History from Earlham College and has a Masters in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago.

Debra Wise, Senior Business Manager

Debra WiseDebra Wise is the Senior Business Manager for the National Main Street Center.  Debra brings more than 28 years of experience and expertise in the management of the Center’s financial operations.   As the Senior Business Manager Debra manages a full range of administrative, financial and operational duties which include human resources, budgeting, and accounting responsibilities.  Prior to joining the National Trust, Debra spent ten years employed with the City of New York and attended Baruch College, focusing on business administration.  Debra joined the National Main Street Center during the Center’s Urban Demonstration Project in 1986.