New Mt. Airy USA director Brad Copeland (Photo by Sue Ann Rybak)

New Mt. Airy USA director Brad Copeland (Photo by Sue Ann Rybak)

by Sue Ann Rybak

Mt. Airy USA, a nonprofit community development corporation, announced that Brad Copeland, its interim executive director, will become the organization’s permanent executive director.

Copeland, 39, previously held the role of director of real estate development at Mt. Airy USA.. He worked closely with Anuj Gupta, who resigned as executive director in June to become the Reading Terminal Market Corporation’s new general manager.

Howard Treatman, board president of Mt. Airy USA, said in a statement that he was “thrilled that Brad will be stepping into this role on a permanent basis.”

“Brad’s skill and experience will allow us to advance our mission of transformative neighborhood development,” he said. “We are looking forward to the work ahead and to accomplishing great things for Mt. Airy.”

Copeland has been a core member of the organization’s leadership team since 2008. Abby Thaker, managing director of Mt. Airy USA, said he has led several of Mt. Airy USA’s key projects, including the new Wissahickon Charter School campus at Chew Avenue and Washington Lane.

“This is an exciting time for Mt. Airy USA,” said Copeland, of Lansdowne. “We have such a strong team on our staff with an extraordinary number of high-impact projects in the pipeline. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to take on this role and help our organization continue moving forward.”

He said Mt. Airy USA works to create a vibrant and diverse community through four program areas: housing counseling, real estate development, small business development, and support for neighborhood public schools.

“There is a tremendous need for counseling related services – particularly financial literacy,” Copeland said. “The supply of counseling services is small in comparison to the demand for services.”

Copeland said there was a “definite growth opportunity” in this area.

He noted that the organization will be examining how it “can meet the demand for those services that are available.”

Another project Copeland said he was hoping to expand is the Mt. Airy Schools Coalition. He explained that Abby Thacker, who was formerly Mt. Airy USA’s director of development and education partnerships before recently accepting the new role of managing director, spearheaded the coalition’s work to support neighborhood schools by collaborating with community organizations, businesses and residents.

Copeland said Mt. Airy USA recently launched a campaign called Mt. Airy Reads funded by a $245,000 grant from the Lenfest Foundation. The funds will provide books, professional development and other support services to five local elementary schools: A.B. Day, Emlen. C.W. Henry, Houston and Lingelbach.

This summer Mt. Airy Reads worked to expand “Moonlight Movies in Mt. Airy” to include a children’s book club component. All of this year’s movies are films that are adaptations of popular children’s books.

He added that the coalition is developing and working to implement a strategic plan to improve school yards at neighborhood elementary schools.

“We will be looking at ways we can help strengthen our neighborhood schools and promote them,” Copeland said. “The objective is to get people to send their kids to their neighborhood school, making Mt. Airy a place where people want to move because the schools are a strong asset to the neighborhood.”

He said the goal is to make Mt. Airy a place where people want to live, work and play.