OIL CITY — Vice President for Heritage Development of the Oil Region Alliance of Business, Industry and Tourism Marilyn Black will retire on June 13 after 15 years in the position.
“Marilyn Black has been an extremely important part of the development of the Oil Heritage Region,” said President and CEO of the Oil Region Alliance John Phillips II. “She helped develop the region, first as a Pa. Heritage Area for years then (as it) achieved the National Heritage Area status. Marilyn was involved in the extremely complex merger of four distinct nonprofits to form the Oil Region Alliance as it is today.”
“When hired to serve as Manager of the Oil Heritage Region in May 1995, I looked forward to helping coordinate, communicate about and write grants to fund the progressive projects described by the founders and leaders of the Pa. Oil Heritage Region,” Black said. “The knowledge learned and the experiences shared since then have been more fantastic than I could have imagined.”
Black’s significant accomplishments include the historic preservation of Tarbell House, Neilltown Church, Coal Oil Johnny House and, most recently, Scheide House. These projects are particularly complex because of the grant writing and assembly, project management and ongoing support development needed to ensure they are protected and preserved for future generations, continuing to educate and contribute to the Oil Region.
“When you look around the community at the many accomplishments that have happened, you can see Marilyn’s touch,” said Oil Region Alliance Board of Directors Secretary and Executive Director of the Venango Museum Betsy Kellner. Kellner cited the Visitor Centers, the bike trails, the visitor guides, the preservation awards and the Downs Building as additional projects in which Black has been involved.
Because of this dedication to the community she has worked so hard to serve, Mayor Bill Moon declared June 13 Marilyn Black Day in Oil City. The announcement was made on Thursday, May 28 during an ORA board meeting. State Representative R. Lee James presented a citation at that time and gifts were given to Black on behalf of the board.
During her time in Heritage Development, Marilyn has served as vice president, program manager, planner, executive director, grant writer, project manager and supervisor.
From 1995-2002, Black served as manager of Oil Heritage Region, Inc., the non-profit corporation which administered the official Pennsylvania Heritage Park since 1994 and the Oil Region National Heritage Area since 2004. She served as Executive Director from 2002-04. In 2005, Oil Heritage Region, Inc. merged to form the Oil Region Alliance as it is known today. Black also served concurrently as part-time Executive Director for Oil Heritage Region Tourist Promotion Agency, Inc., another organization that merged to form the Alliance, during 1996-98. She was a planning director and grant writer for Northwest Pennsylvania Training Partnership Consortium, Inc. from 1980–1995.
Since 2009, Black has freelanced as an outdoor writer and photographer with stories appearing in PA Magazine, PA Angler and Boater Magazine and Recreation News.
“Marilyn has with both consistency and efficiency confronted some of the most daunting challenges to the maintenance of this region’s vital heritage with a positive attitude and a carefully thought out plan,” said Oil Region Alliance Board of Directors Chairman and retired clergy member Dr. Barry Cressman. “Her talent and the scope of her expertise is enormous.”
Black has volunteered and served in numerous officer roles in the Alliance of National Heritage Areas, Petroleum History Institute, Pa. Heritage Parks Association, Penn Soil Rural Conservation and Development Council and Northwest Regional Transportation Advisory Committee. She is also a founding member of the Erie to Pittsburgh Trail Alliance and the Council on Greenways and Trails.
When not hard at work or volunteering, Black enjoys fishing, boating, kayaking, photography, biking, hiking and bird watching at her home in Cochranton.