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   March 27, 2008 Issue                                       

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Sharkey steps down as community manager
by Kristin Pazulski

Community Manager Martha Sharkey leaves this week. (Photo  by Jimmy J. Pack Jr. )

For nearly a year, Martha Sharkey, community manager of the Chestnut Hill Community Association, has been a constant presence in meetings, events and other activities in Chestnut Hill. But as of March 26, the association will have to find a new energetic person to fill its community manager position, as Sharkey moves on to a new opportunity.

Sharkey chose not to reveal details about her new position, but said that she will be “working on events” for a nonprofit in Center City.

She said when she became CHCA community manager last May she had planned to stay with the association for a while, but the new position was too good to pass up.

“It was a tough decision,” she said on Monday, sitting in her bare office, newly cleaned out for the move. “But it is a good time in my life to take this new opportunity.”

Sharkey, who formerly worked for civic organizations in the Lancaster area, moved to Chestnut Hill last May when she took the community manager job. She said that in the past year, she feels she, with the help of the staff, board and dedicated volunteers, has improved the image of the CHCA, which has a reputation for controversy.

“We have done some great projects, and, above all else, made new friends, new members, new board members, and new supporters for the CHCA,” she said. “We really reached out into the community to show what the CHCA is all about.”

The most recent example of that, she said, is the Community Fund Drive, which officially ends on March 31 (although donations will still be accepted afterward). The drive has raised $82,134 toward its $100,000 goal, as illustrated in the thermometers situated outside the CHCA offices and Borders Book Store. And there are 100 more donors than last year and 300 new donors.

“It shows that people are believing in the association again,” Sharkey said.

Dina Hitchcock, CHCA operations vice president, said a search committee will be set up, but was not sure when that would begin. Sharkey will not be part of the selection process for a new community manager, but she pointed out that the most important part of the manager’s job is to “build bridges” with the community, residents and organizations outside the CHCA as well as within the association.

Along with CHCA meetings, Sharkey also attended the meetings of the Chestnut Hill Business Association, Good Schoolkeeping at the J.S. Jenks Elementary School and other non-CHCA meetings.

“The person must not only be a strong presence in the community and be involved in other groups to show the community association cares, but also be a good communicator,” Sharkey said.

Sharkey said she is organizing things for her departure and preparing information for a new manager. She has asked CHCA volunteers, staff and board members to fill in for her on the various committees on which she served.

She said she does not see herself running for the CHCA board, but might volunteer for the association as a community member once she settles into her new position.

She said one thing that always impressed her about Chestnut Hill and what she enjoys being a part of is the dedication of volunteers and committee members, some of whom do not even live here.

“It’s amazing to see that people care about this community so much — even some that do not live here,” she said. “As I said before I moved here, this is a great community.”

Contact staff writer Kristin Pazulski at 215-248-8819 or Kristin@chestnuthilllocal.com.