by Pete Mazzaccaro
Last month, Chestnut Hill Business District Executive Director Martha Sharkey announced that she would step down from her position at the end of the year. She’s leaving, she said, to devote herself full-time to “Today is a Good Day,” a foundation she and her husband Paul Sharkey established in 2014 to help parents dealing with children born prematurely.
Sharkey took the executive director job in late 2013. She was placed in charge of both the Chestnut Hill Business Association, Parking Foundation and the Business District, a legal Community Development Corporation that raises funds through an annual tax assessment on Avenue businesses and nearby residential properties.
It was here that Sharkey worked to add a number of events to the Business District’s already busy calendar, including Petapalooza, Plein Air and more.
“It has been an incredible opportunity to return to Chestnut Hill and work with the wonderful team at the Business District, including Peggy Miller, Peggy Hendrie, Kate O’Neill, and Kathie Meadows, along with our dedicated BID team members and parking ambassadors,” Sharkey told the Local. “I am grateful for the leadership within our business organizations and the opportunity to help unite them in a more effective way.
Sharkey said the most significant work over the last few years has been building the neighborhood’s reputation as “Philadelphia’s Garden District” and promoting the Avenue’s businesses as a destination suitable to anyone looking to visit a historic neighborhood.
Despite the accomplishments, Sharkey said she thinks now is the time to step down to focus on her foundation.
The story of Sharkey’s foundation began in 2010 when her twin daughters Mary and Claire who were born prematurely and needed major medical intervention. The couple lost their daughter Mary after two weeks. Their other daughter Claire spent 103 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) before coming home.
“During our journey, we found that there was a real gap in support for parents working through the ups and downs of a NICU journey,” Sharkey said. “It is a rollercoaster ride when your child or children are born prematurely. We started Today is a Good Day to help families navigate the journey. Our organization has grown significantly over the past three years. I am transitioning out of this role to focus full time on advancing the mission of Today is a Good Day.”
Sharkey said that she still expects to be a part of the neighborhood. She lives in Wyndmoor and plans to shop and dine on the Avenue and participate in community events. Still, she said, she’ll miss working with people in Chestnut Hill on a daily basis.
“Reflecting upon the past four years, I will miss the people the most. I will miss popping into shops to catch up with the business owners and meeting the visitors in the Welcome Center who are discovering Chestnut Hill for the first time,” she said. “I will also miss working with the dynamic team at the Business District and our partners at Woodmere Art Museum, Morris Arboretum, the Community Association, Chestnut Hill Hospital, Chestnut Hill Conservancy, and many others. We live in an awesome neighborhood filled with an incredible sense of community. I am proud to be a small part of it. “
The search for the new executive director is underway. The job posting can be found at chestnuthillpa.com/jobs. Interested applicants should contact Kate O’Neill at email@example.com.
For more information on “Today is a Good Day ,” see http://www.todayisagoodday.org/
Pete Mazzaccaro can be reached at 215-248-8802 or firstname.lastname@example.org