New board broadens mission of Explore Sewickley

Monday, June 10, 2019 | 6:00 AM

Explore Sewickley has a new board of directors and a new vision for the organization.

The nine-member board has been in place since late April. Jennifer Markus, executive director of Explore Sewickley, is the only current board member who sat on the previous six-member board.

By end of summer, members plan to restyle Explore Sewickley’s mission and set new operational objectives.

Explore Sewickley — formerly known as Village Green Partners — was formed as a nonprofit in 2011 to focus on the revitalization of Sewickley’s business district. One way they have done that is to organize popular events like Light Up Night and Sewickley Soup Crawl.

The original board took over under different economic circumstances, said board member Greg Ross of Sewickley, when the business district had a number of empty storefronts.

“The board at that time had a very specific agenda, if you will, and that really was to see what it could do to support businesses,” Ross said.

These efforts were successful in that retail activity, attendance at events and general interest in the community have increased in the past eight years.

“We are reconfiguring ourselves, rethinking our purpose and agenda to meet what the needs of the community and the business district are in light of this resurgence,” Ross added.

Over the next few months, the board will consider broadening Explore Sewickley’s mission to focus not only on the business district, but also on residents and visitors to the borough, Ross said.

“We want to keep living in a world with independent businesses and great people-focused experiences, so we want to make sure to foster that culture,” said Alexandra Lancianese, Main Street manager for the nonprofit. “Explore Sewickley is here to represent the best interest of the entire Village, and we hope to do that by creating space for more people to get involved with a place that they love.”

Ross said there is a need to create more community synergy by working collaboratively with groups like the Sewickley Valley Chamber of Commerce, Sweetwater Center for the Arts and others.

“If we can work together in a more integrated and syncopated way, we can produce better results for the community,” he said.

Some of the board’s goals are not entirely new. For example, Explore Sewickley has brought community members together through forums to discuss issues like business-district parking. The board also hopes to continue building Explore Sewickley’s base of local volunteers, which has grown significantly in recent years.

Ross said that Explore Sewickley has always focused on residents and visitors, and that upcoming changes will include a broader focus on nurturing the community as a whole. He also said community members can expect to see a board that is more actively involved in the efforts of the organization.

Lancianese is optimistic about the new board and the direction of Explore Sewickley. “We’ve put together this team (which) has such energy and passion about this community — it’s truly contagious,” she said in an email. “I am so looking forward to the ideas and projects that will come out of this new era for Explore Sewickley.”