Indiana Gazette: Fitzgerald named new director of SW PA Commission

Rich Fitzgerald has a new job once his term as Allegheny County executive ends.

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission’s board of directors announced Thursday that Fitzgerald has been named the new executive director for SPC, which serves 10 counties around Pittsburgh including Indiana, Armstrong and Westmoreland.

SPC, the federally certified metropolitan planning organization and local development district serving the Pittsburgh region, said it was planning for the continued growth of the region.

“Thank you to the SPC and its board for this opportunity and thank you to Vince (Valdes) for his work to energize and elevate the organization during his tenure,” Fitzgerald said in a release issued by the commission.

Valdes is retiring at the end of this year.

“While I’ve always had a regional focus, I look forward to putting my skills and relationships to work for all 10 of our counties,” Fitzgerald continued. “Together, we will continue to concentrate on infrastructure, communication, economic development, workforce and quality of life issues for our region.”

Fitzgerald has served on the SPC’s executive committee, with such officials as Indiana County Commissioner Sherene Hess, Westmoreland County Commissioner Sean Kertes, and Armstrong County Commissioner Pat Fabian who is that committee’s vice chairman.

“The Board is grateful to Vincent Valdes for positioning SPC to be the region’s leading agent of support to local governments for transportation, broadband, and economic development,” said the chairman of the executive committee, Butler County Commissioner Leslie Osche. “He laid the groundwork for Mr. Fitzgerald to carry the Commission and our region to the next level. We are excited about the future of our region under Rich’s leadership.”

Fitzgerald will be welcomed as executive director of the commission when it meets on Dec. 11 at 4 p.m. at The Terminal in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

The commission said Fitzgerald will lead a team of 50 staff members in seven departments, including economic and workforce development; transportation planning; strategic initiatives and policy; information and data; finance; human resources; and communications and public relations.

SPC acts as a cooperative forum for collaboration, planning, and decision-making.

An example of that is a year-long process of developing a Transportation Improvement Plan for the region, which began Oct. 26 in White Township, with the first of a series of public meetings, that were both a status update about the 2023-26 TIP and an introduction to what will become the 2025-28 TIP.

A countywide TIP meeting also was held earlier this month for Westmoreland County in Greensburg. Future meetings including sessions Thursday at the Middlesex Township Municipal Building in Valencia, Butler County, and Dec. 8 at Butler County Community College’s Ford City campus for Armstrong County.

SPC also covers Allegheny, Beaver, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence and Washington counties.

Fitzgerald’s new staff includes those who develop public investment plans and programs, and ensure that federal and state transportation requirements are being met.

Fitzgerald served three terms as Allegheny County executive, and will be succeeded by former state Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-Pittsburgh. He also previously served on the Allegheny County Council for 11 years, including being elected four times as council president.

Before his time in public service, Fitzgerald founded and ran a water treatment services and equipment company. He grew up in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield-Garfield neighborhood before attending Carnegie Mellon University.

He and his wife live in the Squirrel Hill section of the city and are the parents of eight adult children.

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