Award-winning Silver Spring community planner adds National Planning Award to list of accomplishments

Since early in her career Mary Means, left, has advocated for the revitalization of downtowns in small towns and older town centers.  

An award-winning Silver Spring community planner and innovator has received another honor in the American Planning Association’s National Planning Excellence Award, according to a recent press release.

Mary Means is one of five recipients of what the APA calls its “highest honor,” the press release said. The Chicago-based professional organization selected Means for its “Planning Pioneers Award” in recognition of her efforts to stem the loss of historical buildings and displacement of low-income households by urban renewal and redevelopment activities.

With a career spanning almost four decades, Means was one of the driving forces behind the National Main Street program, which was the “first of its kind that revitalized small towns by bridging people and places through their cultural heritage, by connecting the downtown's past, present and future through historic preservation, economic development, urban design, and arts and culture.”

“Through Means's efforts over nearly four decades, the Main Street movement has proved that downtowns are the heart of communities, and communities are only as strong as their core,” the APA’s profile on her said. “The program she spearheaded laid the foundation for improving and revitalizing small towns and older town centers for many years to come.”

Means owns the firm Means & Associates and is a highly-sought conference speaker.

Its National Awards Program more than 50 years old, the APA this year honors individuals and entities which “represent superb work in comprehensive planning, urban design, transportation planning, resilience, public outreach, economic development planning, environmental planning and more.”

The two-tiered awards are selected through a juried process. Five recipients were selected to receive Excellence Awards while 20 were named Achievement Award winners for their efforts in areas of specialization within the planning profession.

“This year’s award recipients demonstrate how planning helps create communities that offer access and opportunity for all,” said Wendy Shabay, AICP, 2019 Awards jury chair. “Planning is vital to keep communities thriving and to ensure quality of life for residents.”

All award recipients were to be recognized during APA’s National Planning Conference at a special awards luncheon on Monday, April 15 in San Francisco.

Find out more about each of the 2019 award recipients at

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