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Identity & Community

Westmoreland Foundation Picks New Director

The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County tapped a Chicago native with an education background to be its next executive director. Philip Koch takes over the post on Monday.

“One of the things that was most interesting to me was the potential that exists in Westmoreland County to make an impact,” Koch said, referring to both the possibility of creating new philanthropists and “the possible impact that the dollars could make in revitalizing those communities.”

Created in 1995, the foundation merged with the Pittsburgh Foundation in 2010 but retained its own board.

“They have been able to maintain their identity and maintain the best interests of the people in Westmoreland County first and foremost,” Koch said.  “At the same time, it’s at a unique position where the Pittsburgh Foundation can provide a number of tools that can be utilized to advance the work.”

Regis Synan, board chair of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County, said in a written statement that board members expect "Westmoreland County residents and those in the non-profit community will respond very well to Phil and his ideas."

Koch currently serves as the national development director for MGR Youth Empowerment and has worked as a teacher in Chicago and Pittsburgh. 

He said he learned while in the classroom that it is not enough to just reach the students; a good teacher must reach the family and the entire community. He said he hopes to bring that same understanding to his new position.

“You figure out how to take your place in that community,” Koch said.

He said he believes understanding those ties will be key to running the foundation.

Koch replaces James Bendel who recently left to become the director of planned giving at St. Vincent College in Latrobe. Bendel was key in the formation of the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.