Andy Walker Tapped to Lead Local and Regional Economic and Revitalization Efforts for Allegheny College
Named First Executive Director for Economic, Civic and Community Engagement
Andy Walker, a prominent Meadville and regional community leader and a 2000 graduate of Allegheny College, has been named as the inaugural executive director for economic, civic and community engagement at the college. He will assume his new position on April 5, 2021.
Reporting to Matthew Stinson, vice president for institutional advancement, Walker will provide leadership and strategy for the college’s renewed investment in Meadville, Crawford County and the region. Under Allegheny President Hilary L. Link’s direction, the college will be strategically expanding upon its strong history and work in civic engagement by taking a more active role in economic development and having a more intentional community presence. Included in these efforts will be a focus on intentional integration with industry and innovation within the region.
As one of the top liberal arts institutions in the country, Allegheny attracts students from all over the globe and supports its students as they launch their careers back into the world. Said Walker: “As a true partner with the community, Allegheny must focus on the current and future workforce needs of the region. We’d like to be seen as a ‘brain gain’ for the region and not a ‘brain drain.’ A liberal arts education provides a strong foundation for the many sectors seeking collaborative and critical thinking employees in western Pennsylvania. These symbiotic benefits occur when Meadville and Allegheny College are partnering in this manner.”
Another key focus of this inaugural position will be to interface and partner with elected officials and key stakeholders, including business leaders and local economic and community development leaders. Walker will work collaboratively in this area to develop effective and focused strategies and programs that generate greater economic development opportunities in the City of Meadville and Crawford County.
“As President Link and I researched successful town-gown partnerships that emphasized economic, civic and community engagement, we heard repeatedly that it was more important to find someone passionate about the community, as opposed to bringing in a specific expertise from somewhere else in the country,” Stinson said. “As we envisioned the ideal candidate, we kept coming back to Andy, as his passion for both Meadville and Allegheny College are well known. We recognize the possible short-term challenges for Meadville city government, but we are confident that the long-term benefits of this new role far outweigh these challenges and provide great opportunity for our local community. As an extraordinary leader, Andy developed and leaves behind a talented team in Meadville, and we look forward to all he will do to move forward Meadville and Allegheny College in this new role.”
“Over 20 years ago, it was Allegheny College that drew me to Meadville, but it was Meadville that kept me,” said Walker. “This is a community I’ve come to know and love. Meadville accepted a young Allegheny grad and gave me the opportunity to grow and serve. I’m grateful now to Allegheny for giving me the opportunity to serve Meadville in a different capacity and to leverage the resources of the college as an anchor institution in our community.”
Added Walker: “Allegheny has a longstanding and demonstrated commitment to civic engagement and service learning, built upon a legacy of volunteerism. I’m excited to leverage Allegheny’s strengths and combine them with Meadville’s can-do spirit to also strengthen the economic success of our community.”
In his prior role as executive director of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Meadville, Walker oversaw the (re)development of key properties in the City of Meadville: the former Junior High School (now Parkside Commons), the former Talon Plant #7 (now corporate headquarters of Vantage Healthcare) and IMPACT Meadville, which represented a multimillion-dollar investment in commercial and residential development and parking infrastructure in downtown Meadville.
In his seven-year tenure as city manager, the city was successful in leveraging several million dollars in state and federal funding for various park, paving, traffic signal and bridge improvements.
“Since I arrived in Meadville in July 2019, I have focused on ways the college might better leverage its resources to support economic growth and become a true ‘anchor’ for Meadville,” Link said. “We are extremely excited to welcome Andy back to his alma mater and are equally enthusiastic about the college’s initiative to strengthen Meadville and area partnerships. Andy will be at the helm of this dynamic effort. His energy, knowledge and demonstrated experience reinforce just how much can be accomplished when campus and community leaders come together to address shared interests.”
Walker brings more than a decade of experience encouraging and supporting economic progress and vitality in the community. He is a 2000 graduate of Allegheny College with a B.S. in environmental science and a double minor in political science and German.