I was shocked when I read that Cheryl Hall-Russell was fired by the Hill House Association last week in the New Pittsburgh Courier (April 26).
According to the Courier story, William Generett, a former board member, said on Facebook he was angry that “one of Pittsburgh’s most important social service and economic development organizations is on the verge of collapsing and FEW people seem to care.”
It was not that nobody cared. It was the best kept secret that the Hill House was even in trouble. Why didn’t the board or powers to be inform the community that they were having problems? People can’t help if they don’t know. A press conference would have been professional.
I thought Hall-Russell was doing a great job. They brought in a new charter school as well as some other key community service programs, which I thought would have made the late Jim Henry proud. I worked very closely with Henry when he took over at the Hill House during the 1970s. This was his pride and joy and he would be crushed if it failed after all his many years of work making it a pillar of the Hill District.
Even though board chair Clyde Pickett was not clear on what the problems were, he did confirm that Hall-Russell was one of the three executives cut. It sounds like a money problem, not a program problem. What I am saying is that an organization can have great programs, but if they don’t have the money to support those programs, something has to go.
There’s going to be a lot more of this happening in the Black and low-income communities with the new administration in D.C. making large cuts to social programs to give tax breaks to the rich and corporations. The communities are going to have to dig deeper into their empty pockets to keep these social programs funded.