I have been a participant in PNLV’s evolution as a volunteer leader since its inception eight years ago. PNLV has only recently become an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization as of January 2015, so I have officially been Board Chair for four months. But really, my experiences as a kid growing up on the Lower East Side of NYC, and my life-long work and professional interest in strong, safe, healthy communities brings me to this service.
2. The nonprofit organization has changed quite a bit during its founding eight years ago. What do you think is its single biggest/most important change?
PNLV owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley for introducing the concept of place-based, locality development for academic success to the Lehigh Valley. The Harlem Children’s Zone was seen as a model. There have been many significant changes as PNLV matured. Three of the biggest are:
1) Acknowledging that the Lehigh Valley is not Harlem and our approach was going to have to be inclusive of the style, culture and strength of the neighborhoods in Allentown, Easton, Bethlehem. In other words, be who we are and play to our strengths.
2) Establishing PNLV as an independent not-for-profit organization with a dedicated board and outstanding staff.
3) Developing our skill in facilitating inclusive, participatory conversations with and for families, providing grounded factual data about the community viewpoint, and creating win-win-win opportunities for those who share the vision of our nine promises.
3. As PNLV expands across the region into Bethlehem and Easton, what are your goals for its continued growth as its board chair?
Often times we in the Lehigh Valley ask our not for profits to be all things to all people. Not surprisingly, the results are often times watered down and not to anyone’s satisfaction. Mindful of this, I am thrilled that PNLV has led the establishment of the first two Promise Neighborhoods (Allentown and Easton), hopefully with more to come. PNLV will become a trusted regional organization that is equally strong, involved and respectful of the neighborhoods and neighbors we serve.