Reflections On My Time As Chair

Reflections On My Time As Chair
By Lisa Riggs, President, Economic Development Company of Lancaster County

For the last two years, I have served as the chair of the Lancaster Clean Water Partners’ Steering Committee. I’ve led the strategic direction of the team, pushed for continued and increased urgency and pace, and championed the need to celebrate successes. My time as chair has been meaningful, and something I’ll think back on fondly and proudly.  

The Partners have strengthened noticeably over the past two years, following a foundational build up that’s been years in the making. The DNA of the Partners is to recognize the efforts of so many other organizations focused on water quality in Lancaster County. It adds energy, capacity, vision, and momentum to drive progress faster, more collaboratively, and with a focus on return on investment. I continue to be amazed and inspired by the talent and expertise around the Partners’ tables – from passionate people with deep knowledge of the environment to business leaders who know how significant stewardship of our natural assets are to the future economic health of our community. That’s the beauty of goals like “clean and clear water.” It’s easy to get behind and people from all walks of life can play a role.  

What we’re doing is working! With a clear crescendo over the last two years, Lancaster County is committed more than ever to cleaning up its waters and building strong infrastructure to tackle the challenge. Funding from federal, state, and philanthropic sources has increased noticeably, a critical and fundamental step to scaling progress. While we celebrate this vote of confidence, the focus now is rapidly putting those dollars to work in the ground in smart, target areas to maximize impact.  

As chair, I’ve had access to experiences I may not otherwise have had. Most memorably, I had a special kayaking experience on the Conestoga River this past August. As a result, I’ve added “go kayaking more” to my bucket list, with the possibility of buying my own kayak! I was asked to join a small group of amazing women because of my role as Chair. Mother Nature delivered a gorgeous day and Todd Roy, rivermaster, upped the journey with key stats and history. These few hours are a tremendous highlight in my years of engagement around clean water. But what are the two most significant takeaways of the day for me? First, the calming, quiet solitude of the experience – a rarity for me as a working mom. And second, bugs on a rock. Allyson Gibson jumped out of her kayak, dug out a rock and showed bugs to me, a sign we’re making progress. A few years ago, those connections – the camaraderie of kayaking and the significance of bugs in the water – weren’t in my brain.  But they are solidified now.  

As my two years as Steering Committee chair comes to a close, I leave the role even more excited about the possibilities for Lancaster County, and especially the Lancaster Clean Water Partners. The team is strong–and growing!–with resources and burgeoning support. These are key ingredients to accelerate the work to achieve clean and clear Lancaster waterways by 2040. 

I am thrilled to pass the baton to my friend and colleague, Jeff Swinehart from Lancaster Farmland Trust. I know he will make the most of the next leg on this journey. And maybe he’ll get to kayak on the Conestoga River, too.