Why I got involved in Council?
I have never aspired to be in politics! I moved back to Bellevue after living around the Country. After investing a lot of money and energy renovating a hundred year old house, I realized the town was at a crossroads. I did not want to sit around and watch as our town crumbled- I wanted to make a difference, but didn’t know how. Five years ago I was invited to a council meeting, and it was my first introduction to “politics.” I was appalled at the lack of professionalism and leadership. I knew immediately I wanted to be part of the solution. I had no right to complain unless I was willing to get involved. A few months later someone stepped off the council and I was asked to consider being appointed to the council. I thought I could contribute in some small way by using my work experience in leadership, communication, strategic planning and marketing to assist in revitalizing Bellevue.
Hometown: Conway, Pa (Beaver County)
Bellevue Resident 1988-1990, 2004 to present.
1990-1992 lived in Seattle, Washington.
1992-2002 lived in Atlanta, Georgia.
Married: 22 years to Ron Coder (Former Penn State/ NFL offensive lineman)
One child: Maltese Sugar
Hobbies: Mentoring next generation leaders, decorating, renovating houses, golf and watching sports with my husband
Occupation: Leadership Development and Training Consultant
Boards: North Hills Community Outreach, North Boros Chamber of Commerce, Three Rivers Wet Weather, CONNECT
Organizational and Leadership Development Consultant 1999-Present
President and owner of a training ad development consortium that provides leadership, sales and business solutions to a wide variety of global organizations to increase their effectiveness.
Covey Leadership Center (Franklin Covey)/Daytimers 1996 -1999
Senior Training Consultant
Organizational development and training consultant that worked with for profit and non-profit organizations to enhance employee engagement and increase results.
Medical and Pharmaceutical Sales and Management 1986-1996
Responsible for sales and business development of medical/surgical products in doctor’s offices, hospitals and the operating room. Managed, trained and developed sales teams.
PA State House of Representative Candidate 2012
Bellevue Borough Council 2008-Present
Appointed to council in June of 2008, voted President in November of 2008-2009. Elected November 2009, voted President 2010-2011. Some accomplishments:
*Implemented first borough five year strategic plan with entire community representation and participation.
*Renovation of the new Borough building from start to finish (Plans stagnated and stalled for over 8 years with prior leadership)
*Wrote Application and gained entry into the Allegheny Together Program (One of two towns given this 3 year grant in 2009) Yielding Bellevue over $300,000 in streetscape funding & multiple funding opportunities to revitalize the business district.
*Grant funding for $400,000 Skate Plaza-First in Allegheny County
*Active member and graduate of the Local Government Academy
*On-going efforts of planning and collaboration with Northgate School Board and Administration.
*Represent Bellevue in County/City collaboration as Vice President of CONNECT (Congress of Neighboring Communities)
*Appointed to Three Rivers Wet Weather board by ALCOSAN
*Part of 100 other leaders invited to White House (7/11) for a urban small town summit
Bachelor of Art in Communications, Bachelor of Science in Business – Edinboro University
Master of Science in Organizational Leadership – Geneva College
What is my vision for Bellevue?
As the old proverb says…Where there is no vision the people will perish. We desperately need leaders to cohesively rally around a common vision that transcends politics and personal agendas. I believe this will be a big part of the future success of Bellevue.
My vision for Bellevue has never waivered over the years I have been a citizen and council person- Simply, It is to make Bellevue the most desirable community to LIVE WORSHIP SHOP in Western Pennsylvania. We are strategically located close to the City of Pittsburgh, but still have a small town feel. We have the best of both worlds with many things to offer both residents and business owners. In order for Bellevue to thrive and not just survive it is going to take a strong vision, plan and people working together to take action. The petty political infighting that has permeated our borough for years will NOT get us where we want to go. We need people in leadership who are willing to collaborate not only with each other, but also with other communities. We need to work with the County and Allegheny Together/Town Center to make our business district vibrant and flourishing. We need to capitalize on funding sources we have available through this program while expanding our tax base and strategically marketing Bellevue and our school district.
My priorities are Safety, Revitalization, Marketing and Good Government (According to the standards of the Local Government Academy)
Strengths and Weaknesses of Bellevue and Solutions?
Bellevue is bursting with potential! We have so much to work with and one has to scratch your head and wonder why we are a not a highly sought after neighborhood like Lawrenceville, Shadyside, Sewickley or Beaver? We have many of the same strengths of these neighborhoods, some of these strengths are: Proximity, close to the City, easy access to major roads, walking community, affordable housing stock, active business district, small school district, access to public transportation, zoned jointly with Ben Avon and Avalon, diverse population and housing mix, community pride and tradition amongst long standing residents, talented residents, amenities like; hospital, parks and library.
I believe our greatest strengths can be our greatest weakness. Although we have great “bones” to work with we have to look at our reality. We have a downtown that needs a facelift and a better mix of businesses-One that will attract good patrons both from Bellevue and other communities. We need a better tax base-We need incentives and marketing to solicit good residents and tenants. Part of the equation is going to come with working in cooperation and having a vision for our school district. We need to create and market a unique, boutique school district that is in demand.
As we read in the paper and walk the streets, we can see there is a growing concern for safety and cleanliness. We need a no tolerance policy for crime, drugs, trash and code violations. This will come in tandem working with the police and department of works. We need council people who can work with our employees toward this end goal while allowing them to do their jobs and not micromanaging them. We need to maintain & renovate our parks and library, which will take a capital plan and implementation. We have not utilized our grant monies and have not cooperated well with the County and other communities. We have a reputation of creating silos and have lost credibility with “outsiders” because of our inflated view of ourselves. The future of funding and progress is intergovernmental cooperation. We need people who can listen and work with other communities.
Overall, it comes back to strategic planning and the right people on the bus to implement the plan. We have potential, but we will only see it come to fruition if we have the right people who will take the time to listen, vision, plan and implement, while putting personal agendas aside, being foresighted and working with other communities. As I have accessed and asked many people why Bellevue hasn’t thrived liked some of the other communities that is the only distinction- people and planning. It is not our physical attributes it’s our intangibles that are holding us back.
How will I work with the school district?
I have always been an advocate of the council working closely with the School District. I believe they affect each other. I have reached out on many occasions to cooperate with both the administration and board. While President of council, I instituted the Jr. Council program. I also worked closely with their business manager to get a decision for the Penn Dot safe sidewalks to schools. I formed a task force of council members, school board members and parents to start the dialogue around the vision for the school and borough and how we could work together. Unfortunately, it was met with much resistance. Our borough manager and myself worked alongside the superintendent and board to pass a LERTA program to incentivize people to invest in the business district. I recently met with the new superintendent to discuss plans to involve students in the Chamber of Commerce and implement the NIFTE program at Northgate. When taking office, I observed that the council and school board in the past have operated very independently. I have been deliberate in my attempts and plan to work with the school despite the mediocre reception. I know “the way we have always done things” has had a great divide. However, with the declining population, budget constraints and failing infrastructure, it is time for futuristic, innovative, collaborative thinking. I am very hopeful that new board members and new council members will see the benefit of coming together to create a thriving Bellevue and Northgate for our residents and the future generation.