My family hales from Kingston PA, where my grandfather was a doctor and was reportedly one of the first people in the valley to own a car, which he used to make house calls on his patients. My dad followed in his footsteps, eventually moving to New York City to become one of the leading doctors in the world in a rare cancer of the eye that occurs in infants. He would find ways to fly these children to New York for treatment, and if they had no place to stay, they stayed with us at our home. I grew up with families of sick children in my house all the time, until my mom and dad organized an effort to renovate a building near the hospital that would serve as a home-away-from-home for these children and their families during treatment. The house became a prototype of what are now Ronald McDonald Houses around the country. My mom was also one of the founders of the first day nursery for underprivileged kids and she had my brother, dad and I building classrooms, cleaning bathrooms, and donating our toys, books, and Christmas money to kids who needed them more than we did.
From my earliest days, my parents taught me to do things rather than just talk about them. They taught me to step up with the gifts and talents we had and to deliver a solution for a problem that faced those around us. I’ve lived my life by their example ever since.
I have been a litigator for 33 years and for 12 of them also served as Partner in Charge of the Pittsburgh Office of Jones Day, an international law firm with 44 offices on 5 continents around the world. Over those many years, I represented some of the largest companies in the world, in some of their most complex legal matters. These experiences allowed me to further develop the innovative problem-solving on which I had been raised, because global litigation and competition require creative and novel strategies to deliver successful outcomes for the most demanding situations around the world. Throughout those experiences, I developed a deep understanding of how companies operate and how they make decisions. More importantly, I learned that companies are not “things”; they are made up of people -- people who create jobs, pay taxes, support communities and move this country forward.
Most recently, I have been asked to undertake a new role, in which my mandate is, quite simply: “Identify big global problems and go solve them. Don’t talk about them. Fix them.” Current projects include the pilot of VetLex, the first-ever national program to provide free legal services for veterans; a global initiative to combat Human Trafficking; an international Telemedicine project to link hospitals across the US with hospitals throughout the developing world; and a Peaceful Protest Project to prevent violence in the context of First Amendment rights.
My civic life here in Pennsylvania has been every bit as important to me as my professional life. In 1983, Pittsburgh was going through some of its darkest days. The steel industry had collapsed; there were huge outflows of population; our communities were struggling. Yet, today, Pittsburgh is routinely listed as among the best places to live, not just in the country, but in the world. Why? Because the private sector came together with government to work collaboratively -- with purpose, design and resolve -- to achieve that objective. And as the head of one of the region’s leading organizations, I was privileged to participate in that process, always trying to bring the innovative problem-solving I had learned from my earliest days.
I’ve worked on economic development and tax and pension reform issues through my roles on the Executive Committee of the Allegheny Conference and as Chair of both the Chamber of Commerce and the Pennsylvania Economy League. I’ve worked on workforce development issues through the Conference and as Vice-Chair of the Workforce Investment Board and Chair of the Youth Policy Council. I’ve worked in education through board service on the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Waynesburg University, Imani Christian Academy and through work with Chatham and Carlow Universities and Community College of Allegheny County. I’ve worked in the arts on the boards of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pittsburgh Public Theater. I’ve worked to provide networked services to veterans through PA Serves, UniteUS and VetLex. And I’ve led efforts to support local social services through the United Way and numerous charitable boards.
Whether it was economic development, tax and pension reform, workforce, secondary and higher education, veterans’ affairs or social services to our most vulnerable populations, the same things struck me. First, I was amazed at what we could do at a local level when the private and public sectors worked together – and how much more we could have done if we had the right support at the state level. I also discovered that things get done when dedicated people come together to find the real facts, assemble the right team, provide the vision and goal, and work together to accomplish the mission. And importantly I have come to understand that it all comes down to people. Issue-spotting is easy - the problems our communities face are apparent to everyone who lives in them. The key to solving those problems is people - people who can deliver, not just talk; people who have the best interest of the community at heart who aren’t in it for themselves; and people who are willing to try new things and bring creative ideas, not those who shoot down ideas of others but bring none of their own to the table. And the last thing I discovered is “the F word” -- the assumption that “more Funding” is the automatic answer to every problem. Throwing money at a problem isn’t a solution; and thinking that we must choose between “either tax more or cut services” is simply lazy thinking.
My experience in service in Pennsylvania has given me unique view of the important issues that need to be addressed in this Commonwealth, and in both my professional and civic life, I have developed the leadership and vision necessary to solve the complex issues that face us.
Pennsylvania is at a critical juncture in its history. It has every attribute that it needs to be one of the great economies of the world. It has one of the largest sources of clean natural gas on the planet, it has an unparalleled workforce; it has some of the most sophisticated manufacturing in the world; it has one of the top agricultural sectors in the nation; it has pristine forests, historic cities and beautiful coastlines along lake and ocean that provide unparalleled opportunity; it is a dream for logistics companies, with the second largest inland port in the country, two international airports, an integrated highway system, a geographic location that puts it within an hour flight from 70% of the US population, and world-class health facilities and some of the top universities in the nation.
What we lack is a Governor who can provide the vision and leadership to connect all of those dots and lead us to the destiny that is right there in front of us for the taking. I have done that in Pennsylvania and around the world for decades as a private citizen, and I am now called to step out of that private role into public life, no matter how difficult that journey may be. It is time to deliver on the promise of Pennsylvania and that is why I have decided to step out of the private sector to run for Governor.