Sylvia Bruni, longtime educator, former LISD superintendent, and former director of the Children’s Advocacy Center, has taken the helm of Laredo Main Street (LMS), the non-profit designated by the Texas Historical Commission’s Community Heritage Development Division. Adding distinction to LMS’s service agenda is the recent announcement by Texas Main Street Program that it will recommend LMS for national accreditation with the National Main Street Center.
Established in 2008, LMS works like other Main Street organizations in Texas cities to revitalize their historic downtowns by preserving downtown heritage, fostering community pride and involvement, and stimulating diverse business and residential development using the Texas Main Street Four Point approach — organization, promotion, economic restructuring, and design.
“Those four points,” Bruni said, “go hand in hand with the Viva Laredo comprehensive master plan that the City Council has in development. Bruni said it was the affinity of the LMS Four Point Approach and the evolving Plan Viva Laredo that convinced her that Laredo Main Street was the right place to focus her energy. She said the implementation of the City’s comprehensive plan will open pathways that will be especially beneficial to the downtown community.
Bruni, who has a professional reputation for being a forward thinker undaunted by big-picture tasks, says she wants to create “a value profile” for Laredo Main Street by getting more downtown merchants and building owners to participate in the City of Laredo’s building façade improvement program. The larger goal, she said, is to bring the downtown business community together so that it can avail itself of all city incentives as well as tools offered by other organizations, such as the economic development grants offered by Laredo Community College for employee trainings in customer service, occupational safety, leadership and teambuilding skills, or computer skills/Quick Books.
She said it is her plan to make Laredo Main Street a liaison between downtown business owners and the city. “They have concerns, and they need to be able to voice them, and the City of Laredo has growing resources for meeting these needs,” she said.
LMS is best known for sponsoring downtown’s annual music and street dance extravaganza, Jamboozie, and for the monthly Farmers Market in Jarvis Plaza. The organization also sponsors the annual Streets of Laredo (SOL) Masquerade Ball and the Streets of Laredo Artisan Bazaar, a quarterly art, food, and music venue in historic San Agustín Plaza.
Bruni said the Farmers Market is an important family venue for Laredoans, a means to re-connect themselves with freshly grown produce and homemade goods. “It is likewise a viable business incubator for the vendors who participate in the market,” she continued.
Her long and distinguished career as an educator spanned four decades, beginning in the classroom in 1964. She became a principal and worked as a district administrator before becoming superintendent of Laredo Independent School District in 2004.
She was executive director of the Imaginarium of South Texas from 2005 to 2007. No local non-profit has benefited more from Bruni’s leadership skills than the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) of Laredo-Webb County. From 2007 to 2016, she built a wide network to reach children who were victims of violence, neglect, or sexual abuse and connected them and non-offending members of their families with resources for treatment and healing. The scope of her work and that of her staff included training, prevention, and intervention, establishing radKIDS, and implementing a system for forensics to establish the occurrence of abuse. Bruni’s selfless efforts as director of the CAC changed lives and saved lives.
Bruni’s adeptness as a fund raiser and team builder as well as her affinity for the downtown area will no doubt enhance Laredo Main Street’s role as an arbiter of historic preservation and sustainable downtown revitalization.
Sylvia Bruni can be reached at (956) 523-8817.