I have learned a great deal about our wonderful community and the challenges and opportunities it faces.
When I was elected President of the Chestnut Hill Community Association in 2020 we were challenged, as we were in the midst of the pandemic. All interactions with other people had to occur at a distance. We adapted, and staged various programs via Zoom.
Later that year, the board – at my suggestion – made some decisions as to the makeup of the CHCA Institutional Partners which resulted in unintended consequences that were difficult for the Association and me personally. Navigating those waters was not easy. While I have had a number of leadership positions in the business and nonprofit world, these situations were different from any I had previously encountered. Fortunately, the CHCA and I had a wise support system.
That said, it has been an interesting, exciting and fulfilling three years. I have learned a great deal about our wonderful community and the challenges and opportunities it faces.
While many of Chestnut Hill's residents and stakeholders thoroughly appreciate and enjoy Chestnut Hill and its environs, getting people actively involved in the mission of “maintaining and fostering a quality of life beneficial to the community at large” is the Association's biggest challenge. Together we have made significant inroads in this area, even during the pandemic, and definitely since then. But it is a work in progress, and we must continue to reach out and engage people like yourselves and encourage them to join committees and ultimately the board. I understand this will be our new president’s priority.
Upon reflection on our successes together these past few years, I believe the Association is in a good place to take the next steps necessary for future growth and viability. We have done much of the work tackling technical changes – updating the bylaws, instituting a conflict of interest policy and a code of conduct, and updating the committee charters. We have begun revising some traditional programs and events and developing new ones.
The CHCA emerged from the pandemic with fewer financial resources than it had prior to the shutdown. It is once again on good financial footing – thanks to Anne McNiff’s diligence in securing PPP loans, a bequest, and our fundraising efforts in the past 18 months. We also raised close to $60,000 for The Local, a Chestnut Hill Treasure in this year’s Annual Appeal (Of course we can always do better-and I am sure we will.)
We were able to bring back some of our well-loved traditional events and launch new ones – including the Fall Frolic, the West Highland Station Garden Party and our June Pride event. I am also pleased to say much of the planning for our signature Holiday House Tour, which will take place in December, again is underway.
As for membership, the CHCA had 914 household members in fiscal year 2020, and 1,220 household members at the end of fiscal year June 2023. And a few more folks joined last evening at the Pastorius Park concert.
As a board, we have just begun the more challenging adaptive change process. This is the hard work that requires us to refine aspects of the community association’s identity. Who are we in our 75th year? And what should the CHCA be at the 100-year Anniversary? This often difficult work will challenge our current attitudes and practices.
It is work that cannot be accomplished by a named leader, or a committee. It requires the participation of everyone to be meaningful. It may be messy at times but I am confident that this board is up to the challenges ahead.
In closing, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your president. I sincerely thank our Executive Director, Anne McNiff, for all her hard work on behalf of the CHCA and the community at large. Our Marketing and Communications Director Heather Gray has raised the CHCA’s public profile in a very positive way. Will Standish, our “newish” membership administrator, will help make those household membership numbers much higher.
Thanks to all you board members for your service. Some of you have gone above and beyond in your volunteer work – in particular the Executive Committee and the other Association Committee Chairs. We say farewell for now to Alex Burns, Lucie Daigle and Cynthia Fillmore. Thank you, we will miss you but plan to see you often.
We welcome our new board members:
-- Sarah Hale, an Appointed Director from Chestnut Hill College, our newest Institutional Partner. Sarah is the College’s Manager of Annual Giving. Chestnut Hill College joins JS Jenks School, the Conservancy, the Business Improvement District, Springside Chestnut Hill and Woodmere Art Museum’s Appointed Directors on our board.
-- Tommy Bergstrom, elected a Director At Large, has an MS in nonprofit leadership from the University of Pennsylvania and is currently at The Penn Fund.
-- Henry Trapnell, elected Director at Large, has experience in both technology and finance working for Google and JP Morgan.
-- Richard Tuttle, elected Director at Large, is an attorney who has become a successful author. Richard is married to Lucie Daigle – a “retiring” board member who has generously loaned her talents, including her lovely voice.
-- It is wonderful to have such new talent - particularly the development and fundraising expertise. I will remain on the CHCA Board of Directors this fiscal year and am looking forward to making the Fall Frolic an even bigger success in celebration of our 75th-anniversary Diamond Jubilee.
-- So, in closing please “for the good of the organization” promote the heck out of the Fall Frolic. It will be FABULOUS!