Outgoing Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has been tapped to lead the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission, an obscure government cooperative of 10 counties and the City of Pittsburgh that helps funnel state and federal dollars to projects in the region.
The commission announced Mr. Fitzgerald’s hiring on Thursday. A term-limited Democrat who has served 12 years in Allegheny County’s top elected position, he’ll begin his new job in January once he leaves office. After more than two decades as an Allegheny County official — he was previously on County Council — he will lead a commission that helps direct state and federal transportation and economic development funding throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“Thank you to the SPC and its board for this opportunity and thank you to Vince for his work to energize and elevate the organization during his tenure,” Mr. Fitzgerald said in a statement, referring to outgoing executive director Vincent Valdes. “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. Together, we will continue to concentrate on infrastructure, communication, economic development, workforce and quality of life issues for our region.”
Mr. Fitzgerald has already long served on the commission’s executive committee in his capacity as Allegheny County’s leader, including a stint as chairman. The executive committee includes elected officials from around the 10 counties that the commission serves.
He will oversee about 50 employees in his new role, the commission said. He will replace Mr. Valdes, who has served as the commission’s executive director since June 2020. Leslie Osche, chair of the commission and the Butler County Board of Commissioners, said a thorough search process was conducted for Mr. Valdes’ replacement.
“The Board had several objectives when we launched the search process: to attract a candidate that intrinsically understood this region’s unique needs and characteristics, had a track record of leadership and growth cultivation, and would build upon the current strength, talent, and consistency of the SPC staff,” Ms. Osche said in a statement. “We interviewed a diverse group of candidates from the region and beyond. Rich Fitzgerald certainly exceeded the Board’s robust qualifications and competencies.”
Caitlin O’Connor, a commission spokeswoman, said the search process started months ago, not long after Mr. Valdes told the commission’s board in June that he wanted to retire at the end of 2023. Multiple finalists from more than a dozen initial applicants were interviewed in multiple rounds, she said.
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