Heather Franz couldn’t keep away from Allegheny County.
After time in Europe and in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Pitt graduate had a yearning for a homecoming of her own. She had a desire to reconnect and help revitalize the area where she spent much of her adult life.
“The tenacious landscape, warmth of the people and overall unique culture is what keeps me coming back. Plus, I’ve got a thing for perogies that only Pittsburghers understand.”
Along with her time away, she’s picked up some valuable experience. She was an AmeriCorps VISTA in Kensington, a Philadelphia neighborhood where she helped a multi-faceted revitalization effort.
Some projects included the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby (KKSD), a sustainability and arts festival which is comparable to Sto Rox’s FEASTival, in that it started as a way to change perceptions of the neighborhood and celebrate the community. KKSD now has nearly 15,000 visitors each year and has grown into a partnership with a half a dozen community organizations. Heather plans to use her experience working with KKSD to this year’s FEASTival.
“We have an aggressive goal for this year’s FEASTival sponsorship, but the event has grown tremendously since its birth in 2013 and we plan to build on that momentum.”
During her time spent in Philly, she was a co-worker of Henry Pyatt, Small Business and Redevelopment Manager at the Mayor’s Office.
Pyatt relayed how both Heather’s personal and professional experience will be a boon, not only for McKees Rocks, but the area as a whole.
“Heather is a fantastic CDC worker. Her ability to connect with people from all walks of life, combined with her ability to handle very complex programs, rules and situations make her a desirable team member for any community revitalization effort.”
Pyatt added that Heather’s devotion to helping those around would inevitably reach those beyond the borough.
”Her dedication to people and communities, not municipal boundaries, mean she understands the functional interdependence people in McKees Rocks, Stowe, and the West End have,” he said
She began at MRCDC at the beginning of March as Program Manager, Communications and Marketing.