News & Events

Former Board Member Allyson Brunette shares:

Downtown Day at the Capitol
Allyson grew up in suburban communities outside of New York City and her childhood was shaped (although she didn’t know it at the time!) by living in highly walkable communities. The places she lived made it functional to rely on downtown corridors for goods and services and made use of walking, bike riding and trains for transportation. Childhood memories like the Memorial Day parade and Christmas tree lighting in her community would later influence her career. After earning a BA in Economics and Political Science from Rider University in Lawrenceville, NJ, she took an unexpected pivot and relocated with her family to Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2011. Simultaneously, she enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program through Marist College (Poughkeepsie, NY), which she ended up completing virtually.  At that time, her career goals were focused on working in public sector healthcare to increase equity and access.
The change of scene led to a change in career plans. For a graduate program capstone, Allyson completed an internship in local government (in the Planning and Community Development Department in the City of De Pere) and wrote her thesis on the fiscal impact of business improvement districts. This internship changed everything! The six-month internship in De Pere made the connection for Allyson that the physical environment of downtowns can create meaningful community connections, foster pride in place, can influence health and transportation, and can support the dreams of creators and entrepreneurs. Allyson’s first professional role was as Executive Director of the De Pere Main Street Program and during her tenure with that organization, the community’s first business improvement district was implemented. Allyson first joined the WDAC board in 2014 when she was a Main Street director and BID manager and would serve two terms through 2019.
WDAC offered an invaluable world of mentorship for an (at the time) 24-year-old. Just seven months into her professional career at that time, Allyson greatly appreciated the relationships she would build with peers in the downtown and BID world in Wisconsin. “For a young professional, WDAC offered me not only incredible learning opportunities but also meaningful mentor relationships that have lasted long after my board tenure”. Allyson served as board treasurer and co-conference chair for WDAC, helping to coordinate Wisconsin Downtown Summits in Wisconsin Rapids, La Crosse, Sheboygan, and Green Bay. She also was heavily engaged in Downtown Day at the Capitol. My favorite downtown memory is the Downtown Summit in Sheboygan. We had a public art bike tour of the community and hosted part of our event at the Stephanie Weill Center for Performing Arts. “I still intersect with folks I met through WDAC – either on the board or through attending the various WDAC events all the time. From a networking perspective, WDAC is the best organization through which to meet folks invested in community development in Wisconsin.”
Following her time with the De Pere Main Street program, Allyson worked for the University of Wisconsin-Extension and worked in Brown, Outagamie, and Winnebago Counties as a Communities Extension Educator and in the Planning and Community Development Department for the City of Kaukauna. Over the course of those 9 years, Allyson had the chance to work on a broad range of projects from managing downtown events to leading a $1.2 million dollar community branding and wayfinding project. She concluded her career with the City as the interim Planning and Economic Development department last year.
At the end of 2021, Allyson joined the many others nationally who were reevaluating their career goals post-pandemic. She joined the Great Resignation and took a dive into entrepreneurship. As founder and owner of her own consulting firm, Allyson Brunette Consulting, she is focused on small-scale development and local government consulting. Allyson lives in the Village of Ashwaubenon with her husband, Jon, and their retired racing greyhound Paisley. They enjoy hiking, visiting local breweries, attending local baseball games, and volunteering in their community.
“The direction of my professional career trajectory was absolutely shaped by the speakers I met through WDAC and the board members I volunteered with and formed close relationships with over the past 10 years. I’m certain that I might have explored a different career path in my 20s had I not intersected with so many passionate people working in community development in Wisconsin communities. I’m grateful to WDAC for giving me so much more than I could ever give back!” 

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