Reflecting on 5 years as CHCA president

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On August 27, we had the honor of bestowing the title of President to the next board member, Kathi Clayton, who will lead our 72-year organization. This is an elected position by our peers. I have held this position for almost five years – the longest tenure in our recent times and would like to share some reflections of what we have accomplished during this time.

I’ve had the luxury of being Vice President of Operations for two years before being President and have chaired or been a part of most committees other than those in the Physical Division. I’ve had my hand in fundraising, grant allocations, social and operational issues. I’ve kicked the tires and rebuilt or fine-tuned most things that I’ve been a part of. I’ve done the best that I can to position our group for success and I’m proud of the stability and spirit of partnerships that I have brought to this group.

During my time as president, we have added Movie Nights at the Water Tower to extend the summer and to appeal to families and younger demographics. This brought an event to the “East Side” and is a nice complement to the Pastorius Park Concerts on the “West Side.” This also opened up awareness of the Water Tower struggles for funding and improvement needs and brought us three exceptional new board members associated with the Water Tower.

At the same time, we have formed and strengthened partnerships in the business community with the Chestnut Hill Business Association; in institutions like the Chestnut Hill Hospital, the Conservancy, Woodmere, Morris Arboretum, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Friends of Pastorius Park, the Water Tower, Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club and Chestnut Hill College among others. Each has brought great synergies to the Community Association that have benefited them and us – as well as Chestnut Hill.

We have taken over support of the Chestnut Hill Tree Tenders, formed a Tree Fund with a significant endowment, and have restarted the Greenspace Initiative committee to guide our greening efforts. We’ve brought folks and institutions together to broaden awareness of our pocket parks and greenspaces – and their needs for the future (work that, frankly, is never done). We refreshed the World War II Memorial park and taken part in neighborhood cleanups at the Water Tower. The Greenspace Initiatives committee is now working with Friends of Pastorius Park on our next project and has developed a framework for future allocations.

We had delivered successful fundraisers and community events year after year – in the shape of our Holiday House Tour, Black and White Gala, Circle of Trees, Holiday Parade and more. We have offered public meetings on tax reform, safety, and city elected races. We have kept true to our founding premises to protect and strengthen what is special about this historic village with preservation, conservation and development experts (all volunteer) who support our Physical Division zoning matters with the Board’s governance oversight. 

As a new 501(3) at the start of my tenure, we have modified how we fundraise and focused inward to ensure we are investing in this organization and our membership. We have strengthened our paper and made significant changes there with a board, purpose and game plan to reposition what is a community asset. We have also made significant changes in our Community Association office staff – with changes in executive directors, membership and PR support while also investing in a community development role. And I’m sure we will continue to pivot for other changes to position both the Community Association and the Chestnut Hill Local and possibly the Community Fund in the future. 

What I’m most proud of us that we have done this together. We have had respectful dialogue. We have put the community first. As the Community Association moves into more uncertain times, I am counting on this spirit to continue and am confident in Kathi Clayton’s abilities to guide us. I ask that Board members and the community continue to lean into the challenges ahead and give our next leader the same trust and respect that you have given with me.

Thank you for allowing me to lead the group and for embracing our next leader who will need your support. It has been rewarding.

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