JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (WTAJ) — After a nationwide search, Vision Together 2025 has just announced the hiring of a president and CEO that will help lead the organization forward.

Vision Together 2025 is an organization that focuses on implementing a comprehensive strategy for the renewal and growth of Johnstown, according to their release.

Mike Tedesco, an economic development expert with experience in urban planning and government administration, has been the chosen candidate. He graduated from the University of Idaho, and he earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Kansas.

Tedesco has most recently served as executive director of the Spokane Tribe of Indians in Spokane, Washington. He was responsible for 515 employees with an annual budget of $66 million. At the end of the month, he will be traveling to Johnstown.

“The more I explored this opportunity with Vision Together 2025 in Johnstown, the more excited I got,” he said. “The challenge really speaks to me, and you don’t stumble upon opportunities like this very often.”

He compared being the executive director for tribal governments as being a city or county manager.

“I oversaw all governmental activities for the Spokane Tribe, including planning, economic development, public works, human resources, finance and compliance, health and human services and information technology.”

While working with the Spokane Tribe, it’s reported that Tedesco was the primary architect of a winning “Promise Zone” designation from President Barack Obama. Only 22 places in the country earn this designation.

He also served as executive director of the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority to help revitalize the city of Pueblo, Colorado, a traditional steel town similar to Johnstown.

“This is the experience that really makes me feel comfortable and confident that Johnstown is a perfect fit for me,” Tedesco said. “In Pueblo, I helped implement a vision for the 21st century, much like Vision Together 2025 is now doing for Johnstown.”

President and CEO of JWF Industries and Chairman of the Vision Together 2025 Board of Directors William Polacek said that Johnstown is very fortunate to have someone with Tedesco’s background.

Ethan Imhoff, executive director of the Cambria County Planning Commission and chairman of the Vision Together 2025 Executive Committee who helped lead the research for finding the new president and CEO, agrees with Polacek.

“Vision has grown considerably in the past five years in volunteers, projects and community support,” Imhoff said. “We need a strong leader, and I think Mike will do a great job.”

Vision Together 2025 stems around a “bottom up” plan that turned input from more than 100 capture teams and community leaders. It centers around 9 priority goals:

  • Mentoring and investing in the youth
  • Developing current and future leaders
  • Improving health and wellness
  • Modernizing infrastructure
  • Remediating blight and redeveloping properties
  • Leveraging and conserving natural resources
  • Recruiting and retaining businesses
  • Promoting Johnstown
  • Improving governance

Tedesco will work with Vision Together’s board, priority goal and capture team leaders and other community organizations.