St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District, operations manager
| 12:00 p.m. October 15, 2020
Class of 2020
Growing up, Brandy Wiesner would get dressed up and go out to St. Armands Circle in Sarasota to shop and celebrate special occasions. She even worked at Kilwins on the Circle in high school, scooping ice cream.
Now, years later, Wiesner has returned to the Circle. This time, she’s serving as operations manager of the St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District, the first person to have served in the role for the outdoor shopping and dining destination.
Property owners on the Circle voluntarily tax themselves to fund the Business Improvement District, which organizes various projects, from landscaping and pressure-washing to holiday lighting and special events.
Wiesner oversees operations for the BID’s board of directors, works with city of Sarasota leadership to coordinate projects and collaborates with the St. Armands Circle Association. “It’s sort of like running a little city on St. Armands,” she says.
One project she’s particularly proud of is a new public restroom that will be built on the Circle. “It took such a collaborative effort from property owners that are invested in the Circle coming together with the dozens of merchants and business owners, city leadership and a team of consultants to bring this vision to reality,” Wiesner says. “To be able to turn something that was a vision of the community for so many years into a reality is really rewarding for me.”
Of course, St. Armands Circle, along with other shopping and dining areas across the region, have faced challenges from the pandemic. Although traffic has been slower, Wiesner is optimistic about the future. “I think the BID is really going to create that momentum to drive us out of this quicker than other communities,” she says.
The coming months could also include streetscape improvements and enhanced efforts to encourage people to visit the Circle during the holidays. “Really, the biggest part of my job is to listen — listen to the property owners, to the business owners and to city leadership to be able to adapt as information and circumstances change so that the BID can pursue the best possible solutions,” Wiesner says.
Working toward those solutions means Wiesner’s days are varied and can include preparing for BID board meetings or city commission meetings; working with consultants, contractors and vendors on proposals and quotes; and communicating with city department heads.
“I’m really passionate about this interaction of business and government and community,” she says. “This position really offers that combination and allows me to make the greatest impact. I love the opportunity to build relationships with stakeholders and being involved in the transformation of the Circle.”
City of Residence
St. Armands Circle Business Improvement District
Years on the Gulf Coast
George Washington University/B.A. in psychology and business administration
What community group or organization are you most involved with?
League of Women Voters, Manatee County
What's the weirdest job you've ever had?
As a college student in D.C., I worked as an editorial assistant publishing OSHA citations for the Bureau of National Affairs
What's your top tip for being productive?
Prepare for meetings ahead of time, so you can make the most out of the limited time you may have with decision-makers in the room. I always schedule preparation time on my calendar before meetings, so that I can make a list of priorities, comments and questions to make the most efficient use of meeting time, whether it’s in person or virtual. Putting my phone on do not disturb helps too.
If you could have a side hustle, what would it be?
What's your favorite off-hours activity?
Taking my 2-year old chocolate lab to the park. We try to visit a new park every weekend.
What's your favorite board game, game show or video game?
I must not be a millennial. I have never ordered through a delivery service, but I do pick up from my favorite Thai restaurant almost every week. I think knowing how to cook is one of the most important skills a person can have.
What do you use most — Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams or Google Meetings?
Zoom and Skype
What’s the best binge-worthy show you have enjoyed during the pandemic?
What’s the longest virtual meeting you’ve been on since mid-March?
Some of the City Commission meetings run for hours, but thankfully, I’ve only participated for shorter, scheduled times during the meetings.
How many times had you used video for a work meeting prior to the pandemic?
Only a few
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic?
The importance of not being so busy all the time. I think some isolation and solitude is not such a bad thing. Also, our lives can change so quickly! Be prepared, and trust science.
What do you miss most about the world pre-pandemic?
Of course I miss going out to eat at my favorite restaurants and traveling, but what I miss most is that there was not so much uncertainty pre-COVID-19, and I didn’t have to make so many decisions before I did something simple.
What have you been spending more time doing during the pandemic?
Working on house projects, planting a garden and playing with my dog, Luca.
Do you prefer working from home or working from an office?
How have you kept up camaraderie with colleagues during the pandemic?
I work mostly independently, so I’ve been fortunate that the pandemic has not changed much of my day-to-day work, but I have been more intentional about scheduling virtual meetings or phone calls with colleagues and being flexible with my schedule.
What’s the first thing you’ll do after the pandemic?