Robin Fitzpatrick, my dear friend and mentor, has dedicated the past 20 years of her career to Adams County’s economic development, and in this column I’m going to attempt to summarize the indelible mark she has made—and continues to make—on our lives, the county and state.
No one personifies the words partnership, team, and diplomacy more than Robin. The common thread running through her entire life and career is her love of people! All of the Alliance’s work stems from a network of partnerships with community stakeholders, businesses, fellow nonprofit and government agencies.
“Economic development is a team effort, requiring input from elected officials, businesses and individuals,” said Shannon Harvey, HACC-Gettysburg Vice President and the Alliance’s ACEDC Board Member. “Robin and her team have been the driving force of business and economic development over the past 20 years, serving the business community and people of Adams County well. There were times, no doubt, that the work was frustrating. Robin is patient and persistent. She demonstrates leadership with grace and professionalism. She’s an expert at building relationships.”
Many of us look back on our career paths and see how one decision or position led to another, and another, and so on. Like curving stepping stones, those paths are rarely straight. Many of you may remember Robin’s September column, when she talked about her background in healthcare, which led to her position as the first Executive Director of Adams County Tech Prep. She says it was “one of the best experiences of my life and the perfect bridge into economic development.” A few more facts about Robin’s background that you might not know:
Robin seemed destined to “aim high” in life. She was born in Washington, D.C., her mother was a flight attendant, and her father was a pilot. Robin’s grandfather worked for NASA and helped design the camera systems for the Apollo mission.
When Robin was nine years old, she moved to Gettysburg with her father. They lived on a 100-acre farm off Emmitsburg Road. Robin, an only child, helped her father on the farm. This was definitely the foundation of her work ethic!
Her college education set Robin up with incredible “people skills.” She graduated from Penn State University with a BS in health and human development, then earned her MS in counseling from McDaniel College. As she wrote in September: “I’ve worked in a psychiatric hospital, a brain injury rehabilitation center, and a local long-term care facility. I loved them all. My reason to be is people!”
Speaking of people, Robin is a beloved wife to John and mother to Emmett (15), Wyatt (23), and Jack (26).
In 1998/9, after helping to launch and lead the tech prep center, Robin was named Team Pennsylvania Business Calling Specialist for the Alliance’s Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC). Basically, she was the face of the organization, and she met with business leaders to learn about their industries and listen to their needs. Learn and listen, she did, as she worked her way up to become President.
Barbara Hartman served on ACEDC’s Board of Directors throughout it all: “Robin came to us 20 years ago with an impressive resume and work experience. But economic development requires a unique balance between growth and preservation. We quickly learned that Robin was up to the task. She never hesitated to take opportunities to learn more. She continues to reach out and develop relationships with state and local government, community leaders and stakeholders, and our board members for the benefit of all of Adams County,” said Hartman.
Current ACEDC Board Chair Michael Cogliano, Vice President of Operations for WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital summarizes Robin’s career this way: “Robin has been successful in economic development for so long because she loves to learn and never backs down from a challenge. In a field which presents a new challenge every day, Robin sees these as opportunities and considers how each can inform and benefit the Alliance and the county. Although small in stature, Robin is a formidable force in economic development and we’re fortunate to have her in Adams County.”
Adams County Commissioner Marty Qually has been involved in the Alliance for the past eight years, and he describes Robin’s leadership skills: “Robin is successful because she is open, honest and trustworthy. In a world where personal success often trumps community advancement, you need a selfless leader who can be trusted. Robin is that leader.”
As far as impact, Shannon Harvey puts Robin’s gifts into perspective: “Robin is committed to building a diversified economy so the local area is not dependent on one area of work or one company. Her 20 years with the Alliance have been dedicated to building a community that has recreation, smart growth and family-sustaining jobs. While the work hasn’t been easy, she’s always approached it with passion, honesty and a commitment to service.”
Please join us in congratulating Robin on her 20-year anniversary and her continued future success—which is Adams County’s and Pennsylvania’s success!