Dear PUMP members, program partners, supporters, and friends:
It has been a great honor and privilege to lead PUMP over the past 10 years and work with such outstanding, talented, and inspiring individuals on the board and staff as well as everyone in our broad community of members, program partners, and supporters.
Our collective work has elevated the organization to new heights by refocusing our mission and programs around our original core purpose of advocacy and sharply directing that work towards advancing a just, equitable, and vibrant city and region for ALL. As the board and staff have so often heard me say, the sky is truly the limit for PUMP and there is still so much to be done — for our members, our community, and for ALL.
As we look towards the future, it’s critically important that we take a step back and consider where we’ve come and where we want to go as an organization. After much reflection, I have arrived at the conclusion that it’s time for me, both personally and professionally, to make space for a new CEO to lead the next chapter in PUMP’s story. That person will bring fresh thinking and new ideas, along with the talent, dynamism, skills, and passion to take this organization to even greater heights and community impact. The time is right.
A Return to Our Roots
Transitions are always a good time to reflect on the changing seasons in your life and to give thanks for the gifts and opportunities one has been given. I can say without hesitation that my entire experience with PUMP has been and continues to be one of those gifts and opportunities. When I joined the PUMP team in 2012, the organization was 16 years old and had grown into a well known network within Pittsburgh and the region, but our advocacy efforts by and for young Pittsburgh were no longer front and center in our programming. Advocacy had become — in a way — secondary to the organization’s work and this was, of course, contrary to our founding mission and purpose. We knew we had to change that and we immediately got to work to make it happen. I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to work side by side with all of YOU to chart a path for PUMP, one that involved returning to our roots and re-investing in our advocacy work for the purposes of fostering needed change in our community.
What has the journey looked like in action? It certainly has had its share of ups and downs, but it all started with getting real honest about the fact that for all the notable and celebrated progress Pittsburgh and the region had made over the past several decades, the city remained a place where the fruits of that progress were not fully enjoyed by ALL. This recognition grounded the organization in reality and led to dozens of community conversations, several surveys, and many gatherings with all of YOU which helped envision a Pittsburgh and region we wanted to see. Our community work at the time resulted in PUMP’s first formal advocacy agenda in 2017, an agenda firmly rooted in equity and one that to this day frames all that we do to fulfill PUMP’s mission. We have taken that agenda forward in pursuit of a city and region for ALL.
A Decade of Impact
When we evaluate our progress against our agenda, there is a great story to tell that centers the voice and engagement of young people as decision makers and a force for change. What does that story look like? The successful Parks for All ballot initiative, for example, is leading a renewal of our parks and open spaces in the city with an emphasis on equity. There are growing supports and new opportunities for children and families through the Allegheny County Department of Children’s Initiatives, an outgrowth of the Our Kids Our Commitment Campaign which PUMP championed. Other important policy initiatives vital to Pittsburgh’s future such as fair and affordable housing, multi-modal transit and transportation, paid family and medical leave, voting rights and civic engagement — to name just a few — have ALL taken important steps forward in the past decade. Working collaboratively and in partnership, PUMP has had a seat at all of these community tables, elevating the voice and perspective of thousands of young people to shape and influence public policy outcomes that advance our shared agenda.
In addition to legislative advocacy, we advanced our advocacy agenda through other important strategies and signature programs that have grown to new heights. Our annual 40 Under 40 Awards in partnership with Pittsburgh Magazine has now honored over 800 young people whose talent, creativity, and vision are transforming our region. PUMP’s Kickball for a Cause event has raised tens of thousands of dollars for important charitable causes in our community and our annual Steel City World Cup celebrates and welcomes our global community. Our PUMPed to Run program helps some of our most vulnerable citizens get back on their feet. PUMP’s signature Mayoral Debates and other candidate forums in advance of elections continue to set the standard for community participation. And, of course, PUMP’s nationally recognized Pittsburgh Sports League brings thousands of adults together nearly every day of the year to recreate, connect, and build relationships. These non-legislative advocacy strategies are just as vital to advancing our agenda and their impact is far and wide.
A Bright Future
What’s the common thread throughout this decade of impact and change for PUMP and our region? It’s clear to me that it’s young people stepping forward and serving as architects and decision makers for the betterment of our community. Indeed, our city and region has been renewed, rebuilt, and set on a course for change through the dynamism and brilliance of young people. Every day at PUMP, I’ve had the great pleasure and privilege — a front row seat if you will — to witness this civic movement. I see it in our PUMP staff, our incredible board of directors, and our members, program partners, and supporters in the community. Sure, there is still much to do and a long way to go, but I can say that I am incredibly encouraged by how far we’ve come and the civic energy that is fueling our work today.
I want to close with some thanks. First to our amazing PUMP staff (including those who have moved on to other opportunities) and our dynamic Board of Directors (past and present). I have learned so much from all of you, bringing to light the truth that mentorship is a two way street. Watching all of you rebuild this organization and achieve the impact described above has been the single most rewarding experience of my professional career. This is a gift for which I’ll forever be grateful. And finally, I want to thank our community of members (6,000 strong and growing!), program partners, and supporters. We did this together. I salute all of you for embracing this organization, entrusting us with your resources, and stepping forward to advance a city and region for ALL. Collaboration is in our DNA and you have been there every step of the way.
I believe the stage is set for the next decade of PUMP. I look forward to thanking many of you in person over the next several months and, most importantly, supporting the PUMP Board of Directors in the search process and orienting the new CEO once selected and on board.
The future continues to look bright for PUMP. Thank you for being a part of it!