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Press Release – CT Main Street Center Welcomes Michelle McCabe as New Executive Director

CT Main Street Center Welcomes Michelle McCabe as New Executive Director

Press Release – July 5, 2022

Media Contact: 
Christine Schilke
Communications & Strategy Director

(Hartford, CT)Connecticut Main Street Center (CMSC) is excited to introduce Michelle McCabe as its new Executive Director, effective July 5th.  Ms. McCabe takes over from Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker, who has served as CMSC’s Interim CEO for the last year after Patrick McMahon’s departure in late July 2021.

Ms. McCabe brings several years of non-profit management experience to CMSC, coming from HomeBridge Ventures, a non-profit focused on holistic workforce development and re-entry programming for formerly incarcerated individuals, where she has served as Interim Executive Director since last October. Prior to that, Ms. McCabe spent seven years as Director of the FEED Center with The Council of Churches of Greater Bridgeport. In the course of this work, she built multiple programs from the ground up, leading strategic planning and fundraising efforts, and guiding boards and staff through organizational change. Her experience also extends to successful public/private collaborations, community engagement, and policy advocacy.

Ms. McCabe is expected to lead CMSC through a time of growth, helming a recently doubled staff of six. Her experience in program development and strategic planning will be especially useful as CMSC continues to expand its educational and technical assistance programming, member assistance offerings, and looks to take a larger role in championing statewide policies that benefit Connecticut’s downtowns and Main Streets.

As a resident of Fairfield (a CMSC Main Street community), Ms. McCabe has an appreciation for the many benefits a vibrant downtown offers, as well as CMSC’s role in building local capacity for successfully managing a downtown. “I love how a great downtown invites you in with a charming main street, restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. I can’t wait to begin working with CMSC’s staff and Board to replicate and grow this kind of magic, and to help people better understand the powerful economic and social impacts that happen as a result of well-managed downtowns, both for the community individually and the state collectively,” said Ms. McCabe.

CMSC’s Board and staff are equally enthusiastic for her to begin. Ms. McCabe was selected after an extensive search led by CMSC’s Board of Directors. “We’re very much looking forward to welcoming Michelle into the fold and working with her to bring our long-term goals to fruition,” said Ryan Bingham, CMSC’s incoming Chair and Senior Director of Government Affairs/Lobbyist at Sullivan & LeShane, Inc. “Our board and staff were committed to finding the right person to lead CMSC and we’re confident we’ve done just that.”

“The staff and Board have spent the last year putting together an excellent team of professionals to help our downtowns,” said Ms. Parsons-Whitaker, CMSC’s Interim CEO. “Finding Michelle was the last piece of the puzzle, and we’re enthusiastic about seeing all that we can accomplish with a full team and a clear direction.”

CMSC will be holding a series of regional events in the summer and early fall to introduce Ms. McCabe and the rest of the CMSC staff, including the three staff who recently joined in December and February.  


About Connecticut Main Street Center

CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.CMSC is supported by its Founding Sponsors, the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD) and Eversource Energy. CMSC is also supported by its Growth Sponsors, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at

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CMSC Honors Outgoing Board Members, Welcomes New

CMSC Honors Outgoing Board Members, Welcomes New

Susan Decina & Matt Kaufman Join CMSC Board; Ryan Bingham Takes Over as Chair

CMSC recognized four Board members for their years of service during our Annual Meeting in June.  Incoming Chair Ryan Bingham also recognized outgoing Chair Mike Andreana for his years at the helm, leading the organization through a time of transition and growth.

The Board members recognized for their service are:

Shelly Saczynski 
  • Shelly (pictured above) was first elected to the CMSC board in 2007 and served three terms. She took a year off, then came back! She served as Chair of the Board from 2009 to 2013 and Chair of the Governance Committee from 2019 to 2021. Shelly’s many contributions to CMSC can be summed up in comments from two long-time leaders of the organization:
    • CMSC’s founding CEO, John Simone, said: “I believe Shelly stands out as having provided us with the most Wisdom, Wealth and Work. She always wanted to know what our most important priorities were and how she and the board could best help in addressing them.  She was committed equally to the well-being of her fellow board members and our staff.”
    • In the words of former CMSC Board member Kim Healey, “Shelly is thorough, inquisitive, rational, disciplined, dedicated, and ALWAYS shows up. She is the “go-to” person for non-profits when they need confidential, clear eyed advice.”
    • We agree, CT Main Street Center is a better organization because of Shelly!
Randal Davis
  • Randal served on the Board for five years, from 2017 to 2022.
  • He was elected to the CMSC Board when he was Special Advisor to former CT DOT Commissioner James Redeker. In this capacity, Randal was an important liaison between a changing DOT and our Main Street Communities – especially as Complete Streets and Transit Oriented Development became priority areas on Main Street.
  • Randal continues to serve the people of Connecticut, and is currently the Deputy Director of Development Services for the City of Hartford.
  • He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Board for Partnership for Strong Communities
  • Over the years, he has consistently been a voice of calm reason, asking the important questions, and providing CMSC with wise guidance.
Diana Deng 
  • Diana served on the Board from 2016 to 2022, and as our Board Secretary from 2017 to 2022.
  • She was recently promoted to Assistant Director of Real Estate Development at CIL, whose vision is “that all people will have access to quality housing that enhances independence in neighborhoods of their choice”
  • She also formerly served as Policy & Communications Analyst for Partnership for Strong Communities.
  • In addition to her Board roles, Diana supported CMSC by championing the necessity of quality housing choices in vibrant communities, an important priority area for CMSC.
Toni Berlandy
  • Toni served on the Board from 2016 to 2022.
  • As a Community Relations Specialist for Eversource Energy, Toni served as an effective liaison between CMSC and Eversource and the Eversource Foundation.
  • She is responsible for developing and maintaining a relationship with thirteen municipalities in Northern Central Connecticut
  • Toni has been an effective champion of CMSC’s mission and work, conveying our impact to Eversource leadership. This was critical in securing our historic funding support from the corporation.
Michael Andreana
  • Mike served as Chair of the CMSC Board of Directors from 2018 to 2022.
  • He has been invaluable to our organization, having led us through what was perhaps the most challenging – and rewarding – time in our history as we faced the Covid pandemic and its ripple effects.
  • Mike is always kind, thoughtful, and analytic. He’s a great listener, and always acts in the best interest of the organization.
  • In his capacity as an attorney, Mike was the principal drafter of Connecticut’s 2015 new Tax Increment Financing statute and has assisted in the creation of more than a half dozen TIF districts in Connecticut.

Two New Members Join CMSC Board

In addition to recognizing our outgoing Board members, we also welcomed two new members: Susan Decina from the CT Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and Matthew Kaufman from Hartford Healthcare

Susan Decina
Economic & Community Development Specialist, State of CT DECD

Susan has extensive project management experience with DECD programs including the Small Business Express Program, Urban Act, and the Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP). She also has significant experience working with partners in the area of Small Programs, including the CT Small Business Development Center, Connecticut Main Street Center, Middlesex County Revitalization Commission, and Business Industry Foundation of Middlesex County, Inc. Formerly, she worked with the Office of Brownfield Remediation & Development and was the Director of Planning for the Town of Portland. She also served as Assistant Planning Director for the City of Danbury.

Matthew Kaufman
Regional VP of Operations, Hartford HealthCare – Eastern Region

Matt is responsible for hospital operations at Backus Hospital, Windham Hospital and the Plainfield Emergency Department.  He was the Regional Incident Commander during the Covid-19 Pandemic, responsible for developing regional testing and vaccination centers including the mega vaccination site at Foxwoods Casino. He also facilitated the annual regional capital planning process. He was formerly the Director of Service Line Development and Director of Clinical Integration at Piedmont Hospital, Atlanta GA. 

About Connecticut Main Street Center

CMSC is the expert resource for developing and sustaining vibrant downtowns that fuel our state’s prosperity. Our mission is to assess, educate, convene, and advocate to develop and grow our traditional downtowns, village centers, and urban mixed-use neighborhoods. We provide education and training, resources and technical assistance, and function as the statewide champion for downtowns and Main Streets of all sizes.

CMSC is supported by its Founding Partners, Eversource Energy and the Department of Economic & Community Development (DECD). CMSC is also supported by its Growth Partners, UIL Holdings and the State Historic Preservation Office. More information is available at

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The Women’s Business Development Council is offering grants of up to $10,000 to qualified women-owned small businesses in Connecticut

Applicants are required to provide a minimum 25{4f7e8c1260e76ae5445ac5bed08504f741eb006adc242379decdc77c227c2bd6} match (see link below for more details).

The deadline to apply is July 3, 2022

Find all the details here
Register for info sessions:  Thursday May 19  or  Monday May 23

CMSC Honors Main Street Working Group with Shannahan Award

CMSC was thrilled to present the 2022 Jack Shannahan Award for Public Service to the Co-Chairs of The Main Street Working Group of the CT State Legislature on May 3rd 

The Main Street Working Group is chaired by:

  • Jane Garibay, Assistant Majority Leader – serving Windsor & Windsor Locks
  • Jennifer Leeper, 132nd District – serving Fairfield & Southport
  • Quentin Williams, 100th District – serving the Downtown, Northend, South Fire District, Wesleyan Hills & Wesleyan University areas of Middletown

Formed in January 2020, The Main Street Working Group was created to address concerns about neglected areas in cities and towns, and the need to restore vitality, local connectivity, and sustainability in order to spur economic growth. Meeting regularly with downtown professionals, municipal economic development directors, and CMSC staff, the Main Street Working Group examines existing policies and identifies opportunities to support Main Streets across the state. This award recognizes their willingness to listen to the needs of our downtowns and to develop pragmatic, resourceful solutions.

CMSC’s Government Affairs subcommittee chair Kathy Nanowski welcomed the attendees to the presentation, and CMSC Vice Chair Ryan Bingham was also on hand to celebrate the award winners.

Afterwards, Representative Williams recognized the Working Group’s fruitful collaboration with CMSC and CMSC’s staff and work from the floor of the chamber at the start of the session.

CMSC 2022 Advocacy & Legislative Session Activities

CMSC brings awareness to the needs and benefits of, and advocates for, Connecticut’s downtowns and Main Streets.

  • CMSC participated in the review of applications for DECD’s CT Communities Challenge Grant program, which has awarded over $45 million to 12 communities. The purpose of the program is to improve livability, vibrancy, convenience, and appeal of communities throughout the state. This is a robust review process, which took 4-6 hours per week. Round 2 planned for Fall 2022.
  • Ryan Bingham has connected CMSC to DRS Commission Mark Boughton’s Deputy Program Advisor for Infrastructure, Steve Nocera. CMSC will help inform the Infrastructure Advisory Group to properly deploy Infrastructure Investment & Job Act Funds (IIJA) grant  funding, connecting these grants to Main Streets.
  • Congressman Joe Courtney requested a Letter of Support for Enfield Train Station Track Improvements Project grant application, a CTDOT proposal to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. CMSC provided this LOS and underscored to the Town of Enfield that CMSC is ready to help guide them to a comprehensive approach to the revitalization of Thompsonville Village (station location).

Update on Legislation impacting Main Streets

  • HB 5171-Abandoned & Blighted Property Receivership, eliminating the population threshold.
    • CMSC testified in support of this bill, stating “eligibility is currently restricted to those communities with populations of 35,000 or greater. This threshold limits the ability of 80{4f7e8c1260e76ae5445ac5bed08504f741eb006adc242379decdc77c227c2bd6} of Connecticut towns from accessing the receivership process. Less than 20{4f7e8c1260e76ae5445ac5bed08504f741eb006adc242379decdc77c227c2bd6} of Connecticut’s municipalities reach the existing threshold, despite the pressing need to address blighted properties.”
    • On 3/4/22, Planning & Development Committee Joint Favorable vote. On 4/6/22, referred by House to Committee on Judiciary. Legislation died this session.


  • HB 5271-Continuation of Outdoor Dining, extends to 4/30/23.
    • Public Act No. 22-1 signed by Governor.
    • Relaxes rules on outdoor dining, requiring municipal zoning commissions to permit restaurants to engage in outdoor food and beverage service as an accessory use of such restaurant’s permitted use.


  • RB 5429-Transit Oriented Development. Died in Planning & Development Committee.
    • CMSC believes that denser development around transit stations is critical for vibrant Main Streets. CMSC testified in support of the bill, stating “Connecticut has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in train lines and the CTfastrak bus rapid transit system. We should amplify these efforts by encouraging a vibrant mix of shops, businesses, and residences around transit stations. The approach proposed in R.B. 5429 will allow medium density zoning near transit, while affording municipalities the opportunity to determine the design and site plan for that density. At no cost to taxpayers, we could create thousands of affordable homes, jump-start economic growth, connect businesses and employees, and protect our environment.”
    • This summer, Kimberley Parsons-Whitaker & Carl Rosa will conduct a Transit Oriented Communities Listening Tour in communities where there are Metro North and/or CTFastrak Stations. We will use the information gained from this tour to inform revisions to a bill for next year’s session, sharing with the Main Street Working Group and Desegregate CT in the fall.


2022 Awards

  • Jack Shannahan Award for Public Service – Main Street Working Group Co-Chairs Representatives Jane Garibay, Jennifer Leeper, and Quentin Williams. Awards were presented on May 3, 2022 in the Hall of Flags at the State Capitol.
    • MSWG Co-Chair expressed desire to meet in the summer to begin planning for 2023 session



Our photo exhibit is up in the Lower Concourse of the LOB for the entire month of May. The exhibit features 150 linear feet of high-quality and arresting photographs that celebrate downtowns and Main Streets throughout Connecticut.

Connecticut Main Street Center

P.O. Box 270
Hartford, CT 06141

© Connecticut Main Street Center 
P.O. Box 270, Hartford, CT 06141 | 860.280.2337