ORA Promotes Two Staff Members

The Oil Region Alliance recently promoted two staff members to new roles.

Selina Pedi, who began with the ORA in May 2019 as the part-time Blueprint Communities Coordinator for the Allegheny Clarion River Valley Region, will now serve as the full-time Redevelopment Manager. Jennifer Burden, who has been with the ORA since January 2018 as the Historian Educator, is taking over as Heritage Program Manager.

“These promotions demonstrate the Oil Region Alliance’s commitment to improving the quality of life and economic development of our area in addition to our contribution to enhancing our status as a National Heritage Area,” said ORA President and CEO John R. Phillips, II. “Professional development opportunities like these are key for my entire team.”

Pedi will continue to manage the Blueprint Communities program within her position, but she will be devoting a large portion of her time to develop the ORA’s new brownfield redevelopment program. She will be the liaison with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) with support from Phillips.

“She is exploring some workforce training dollars through EPA for underemployed people in green industries through a little known program, so it’s very exciting what possibilities can come from our new grant relationship with EPA,” said Phillips.

Pedi’s promotion coincides with the ORA’s recent receipt of a $300,000 Community-Wide Assessment Grant from the EPA to assess and redevelop several brownfields along the Allegheny River.  The ORA’s testing and assessment of brownfield sites will start in October and continue through 2023 with grant writing for cleanup and redevelopment efforts ongoing throughout.

She will continue to be based in the AC Valley, but will work on Brownfields throughout the Oil Region National Heritage Area.

Pedi holds an Agribusiness Management degree from Penn State University and is currently a master’s degree candidate in Sustainability at Harvard University, with a focus on Community Resilience and Green Building.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to honor the spirit of innovation that gave birth to the Oil Heritage Region and carry it forward into a new era, learning from the mistakes of the past and building our communities ever stronger and more prosperous,” Pedi said.

With the retirement of Marilyn Black, Vice President for Heritage Development in June, Burden has taken over the Heritage Program. She is responsible for all grant administration, budgeting and programming for the heritage arm of the ORA, which includes oversight of historic properties, education and preservation efforts.

Burden will be the liaison with the National Park Service (NPS), PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR), Heritage PA, and the Alliance of National Heritage Areas (ANHA) with Phillips’ support. They are constantly working toward the Heritage Area’s reauthorization and funding for long term sustainability of the ORA and all National Heritage Areas.

Most immediately, Burden is spearheading the Heritage Area’s Strategic Plan, which will outline and prioritize the heritage activities for years to come.

“Our designation as one of only 55 National Heritage Areas in the country is significant,” said Phillips. “And I am pleased to have Jenn’s experience at the helm of this integral component to our mission.”

Burden holds a History degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s in Historic Preservation from Ball State University.

“I’m excited to lead the charge in taking the Oil Region National Heritage Area on new adventures and spreading the word about our significant history and unique opportunities,” Burden said. 

In a year of unprecedented events, the Oil Region Alliance continues to pursue its mission “to increase the prosperity of the Oil Region by enticing people to live, work, learn and play in ‘the Valley that Changed the World’ through preservation, promotion, development, and support of historical, educational, natural, recreational, residential, commercial, and industrial destinations.”

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