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Longtime North Side Community Development Director To Depart

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Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Among other accomplishments, the Northside Leadership Conference credits outgoing director Mark Fatla with shepherding “the restoration of Allegheny Commons Park.”

A Pittsburgh community development group that represents 14 North Side neighborhoods has decided to pursue a new direction with a new director. The board of the Northside Leadership Conference voted last week to remove longtime executive Mark Fatla, effective Sept. 3.

Fatla, who held the post for 15 years, said little about his departure.

“I serve at the pleasure of the board and apparently they no longer found it pleasurable,” he said. “I disagree with both the process and the reasons" — though he declined to provide details about either.

At-large board member Margaret Eldridge is unhappy with the change. She credits Fatla with turning around the organization and many parts of the North Side.

“I’ve seen it go from nothing, that everybody was afraid to live over here, to just being a wonderful place,” she said.

During last week's board meeting, Eldridge said people expressed concerns about Fatla that included complaints of brusqueness. She said she didn’t know there was “that much angst against Mark,” and said she suspected that his removal had little to do with his job performance.

“I wish they had just said, ‘Hey, it’s time for old white men to step back,” she said.

Art Perkins disagreed. He is a member of the board’s executive committee, and serves as the board vice president for the East Allegheny Community Council. He said a board majority simply wanted a new direction, one more focused on underserved neighborhoods.

“I don’t tend to characterize by color,” he said. “If we were to find an older white man that fit the bill for what we’re looking for, then that’s who we should hire.”

Perkins said 15 years is a “good, long time” for someone to hold an executive director position at a community development corporation, and the focus should be on what comes next.

“If you look at [Fatla’s] list of accomplishments, he’s done a lot. We’d like to do some more of that and spread it out more,” he said.

In a press release, the Northside Leadership Conference enumerated some of Fatla’s successes, from winning a $3 million community agreement with the casino to residential and commercial renovations, and drawing more people to the area with events such as Northside Sandwich Week.

Fatla said he leaves with “a considerable sense of satisfaction with what we’ve been able to achieve the last 15 years,” he said. “Not me, but me with a diverse board, me with a skilled staff, me with a wide variety of partners.”

The decision came one month after the board began a regular review of Fatla. The 60-day review had not yet concluded when the board decided to part ways, said Perkins.

The board’s executive committee will soon begin a search for a new executive director.

Margaret J. Krauss is WESA’s senior reporter. She covers development and transportation, and has produced award-winning podcasts on housing, work, and Pittsburgh’s lesser-known history. Before joining the newsroom full time, she covered the challenges facing Pennsylvania cities as a statewide reporter, and spent another life as an assistant editor for National Geographic Kids Magazine in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at mkrauss@wesa.fm.
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