The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA), an affiliate of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, is pleased to welcome Mark A. Thomas as the organization’s new President, effective July 15, 2019. As President, Mark will be responsible for creating, developing and executing the 10-county region’s economic development strategy, and advancing partnerships to drive job creation and business investment. Mark brings 18 years of experience crafting and executing economic strategies and cross-sector collaboration.
In 2016, Mark was selected by New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to serve as its first Senior Vice President of Partnerships, establishing teams to foster and manage industry and international relationships and business attraction. He played a pivotal role in Amazon’s selection of New York for HQ2 and the City’s investments to catalyze life sciences, cyber security, blockchain and tech inclusion. Mark launched the City’s partnerships with Startup Genome and Startup Guide, working closely with a network of incubators, accelerators and tech training organizations to grow and diversify the tech startup community.
He’s led efforts to partner with New York’s international trade community to advance the City’s global startup attraction, an approach recognized as the #3 FDI Strategy by FDI Intelligence Magazine and honored by the New York District Export Council. Prior to NYCEDC, Mark served as the City of Los Angeles’ inaugural FUSE Executive Fellow, leading efforts to make the City’s neighborhoods more livable. He then served as Director of the Mayor’s Operations Innovation Team, a partnership between the Mayor’s Office and the Los Angeles Coalition for the Economy and Jobs, to spearhead reforms of the City’s procurement, real estate asset management and risk management operations. Before entering the public sector, Mark worked in the media sector, shaping content and investigative journalism on social impact, economic development and effective governance. He received his MBA from MIT, MPA from Columbia University and BA from the University of Georgia, and has served on several boards supporting college access, civic innovation and new media.
“We’re excited to bring Mark aboard to lead the PRA and contribute to our shared regional vitality goals of a strong economy, thriving people and a high quality of place. With nearly two decades of experience driving economic growth, Mark is uniquely suited to advance the Pittsburgh region’s strategic economic development objectives – supercharging business attraction, including international marketing of the region, and doubling down on making sure that companies already located here have the best possible environment in which to grow and prosper. I’m looking forward to what should be a bright future for business investment in southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Pittsburgh Regional Alliance Chairperson Laura Shapira Karet, who is also president and CEO of Giant Eagle, Inc., a multi-state grocery retail operation.
“I’m grateful to Todd Jorgenson of Jorgenson Consulting, Inc. for leading our national search for a new Pittsburgh Regional Alliance president. Todd’s expertise paved the way for a diverse search committee – made up of representatives of the Conference’s board of directors, regional economic development partners and other key leaders and stakeholders – to come to unanimous agreement on Mark as the candidate of choice – in spite of having many outstanding individuals from which to select. Having so many exceptional candidates interested in Pittsburgh and all of the possibilities here is a real testament to the region’s brand,” said Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Stefani Pashman.