When Max Gruner took over the reigns of East Boston Main Streets in 2013 he hit the ground running. For the past six years under Gruner’s leadership Main Streets partnered with numerous businesses in the neighborhood to increase the quality of life for residents while creating a vibrant and prosperous business district that has benefited all who live, work, and visit Eastie.
While Main Streets signature events like Taste of Eastie and the annual Kindergarten Parade grew under Gruner’s tenure, his work helping to transform and improve Eastie’s business district will be his lasting mark on the community.
Sadly, Gruner announced over the summer he was leaving Main Streets for a job in New Mexico and departed for a new chapter in his life over the weekend.
Last Thursday the Main Streets board held a special farewell party for Gruner with dozens of Eastie residents, business leaders and friends paying tribute to the man that has had a positive impact on Eastie’s future.
“It’s hard to believe you were only here for six years,” said East Boston Chamber President Jim Kearney. “It feels like a lot longer because of the mark you have left on this community and all you have done for us. Your reach went beyond the Main Streets District and your work had a tremendous impact on the business owners, residents, homeowners and children that live and work in East Boston.”
Since coming to Eastie Gruner dedicated his work at Main Streets to providing an opportunity to showcase the rich cultural heritage, natural beauty, and vibrant business opportunities of a community that is ideally situated to truly becoming the Gateway to Boston.
“The testament to your work are the people who are here tonight,” said Rep. Adrian Madaro at the farewell party last week. “I remember when we first met over a cup of coffee at Angela’s Cafe and being so impressed with your vision for this community. You immediately became a fixture in the East Boston Community and provided a breath of fresh air and vitality to Main Streets. While this has been an organization that has had a positive impact on the community for years you were able to expand its reach and impact so many through your work. We are so grateful for what you have done for East Boston and you will be missed.”
Before arriving at Main Streets Gruner’s resume includes over 15 years of non-profit management experience. He has served as a leader in the arena of Health and Human Services, particularly Developmental Disability, Education, Community Development, and Transportation. Gruner holds a Master’s Degree as well as numerous certifications in nonprofit management. Prior to this appointment he was a founding partner in a strategic consulting group, was executive director of a statewide trail organization, and served as a senior manager of a human service organization. He has also founded several non-profits, has served on numerous boards, as well as having founded a language immersion charter school.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to work in East Boston and to collaborate with all of you,” said Gruner. “I just want to thank you all for your friendship, your wisdom, your guidance and support over these past six years.”
EBMS started as a novel idea–to take a stretch of Eastie’s business district along Meridian Street decimated in the 1970s by poor design, steel grates and unsightly signage and transform it into an attractive commercial area with a uniformed look.
Throughout the 1990s EBMS exploded onto the scene handing out grants to business owners on board with Main Streets’s vision of storefront improvements and a more welcoming business.
Gruner will be replaced by Gladys Oliveros as the new executive director. Before her appointment she worked as a program supervisor for BCYF.