The Schuylkill River Heritage Area Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Elaine Paul Schaefer has been hired as the organization’s new executive director.
Schaefer, who will take the helm on May 15, was selected through an extensive search that began last year, after former Executive Director Silas Chamberlin stepped down to take another position. The search was conducted by a committee of the board, in conjunction with consultants Schultz & Williams.
Schaefer is an attorney who is currently the president of the Radnor Township Board of Commissioners, where she has held a seat since 2010. In 2016 she ran for state representative for the 165th district.
Prior to taking the Radnor Township post, Schaefer co-founded the Radnor Conservancy, where she held several titles including president of the board of directors and executive director. She is also a director for the Delaware County Conservation District and has served on many other boards, including the Radnor League of Women Voters and the Radnor Educational Foundation.
"I am so thrilled to be joining the well-respected team of staff and board members at SRHA,” Schaefer said. “Our mission encompasses issues about which I am very passionate and eager to champion, including preserving and promoting the distinctive natural, historic and cultural resources in the five county region of the Schuylkill River watershed.”
As the new Executive Director of the Schuylkill River Heritage Area, Schaefer will oversee the implementation of the organization’s new strategic plan, (Re)Turn to the River. That plan, approved by the board of directors earlier this year, will lead the Heritage Area over the next 10 years. It includes goals for developing the Schuylkill River Trail, restoring the quality of the Schuylkill River, promoting economic development in riverside communities and connecting residents and visitors to the historic and natural resources of the region.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve in a meaningful position of leadership in this arena in Pennsylvania, especially now in this era when environmental, cultural and historic preservation efforts are facing great challenges and uncertainty,” Schaefer said. “Our success in preserving and promoting these valuable assets results in stronger economies and improved quality of life for all of our residents."
The Schuylkill River Heritage Area Board of Directors selected Schaefer from a wide field of candidates who applied for the post. Board President Wendi Wheeler noted that Schaefer’s prior leadership experience and her commitment to environmental and preservation initiatives made her a perfect fit for the executive director position.
“We were impressed with Elaine's dedication to historic and land preservation and her perseverance in working toward mutual goals with a variety of stakeholders,” said Wheeler. “She has a proven track record of advocacy for the protection of natural resources, and understands the importance of sustainable economic growth. The board and staff of SRHA are excited to have Elaine join our organization and look forward to her leadership as we move ahead with our new strategic plan.”
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