Munhall's new manager is an award winner.
Robert T. Callen has spent most of his 40-year career working for local governments, and half of that has involved working for agencies that foster cooperation among municipalities. His efforts have earned him the 2014 Governor’s Award for Local Government Excellence.
Mr. Callen, 58, has been borough manager of Crafton since 2010. He has been hired as manager of Munhall and will begin work there April 16 — the day after he picks up his award in Harrisburg.
Eight individuals across the state and eight projects will receive the awards April 15. Mr. Callen’s is “in recognition of your contribution to local government in Pennsylvania,” according to a letter from Clyde Holman, deputy secretary of community affairs and development, Department of Community and Economic Development.
The Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Governments nominated Mr. Callen for the governor’s award because of his “impressive history of involvement with local government and councils of governments,” said Linda Costa, executive director of the COG organization.
“Early on, I decided this is what I wanted to do — influence change for the communities,” Mr. Callen said. With that in mind, he earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh in 1979. He also earned a Master of Science in secondary education from Duquesne University in 1973 and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and economics from Saint Vincent College in 1970.
In addition to working as Crafton manager, Mr. Callen has been part-time executive director of the Lawrence County Regional COG, which represents 24 municipalities, since 2001. Since 2010, he has been part-time executive director of the Beaver County Regional COG, which represents 42 municipalities. He will continue to work in the COG posts as manager of Munhall.
Mr. Callen has been working for councils of governments since 1975, when he was executive director of the Steel Valley COG until 1988. Munhall is a member along with nine other towns on the Monongahela River.
Asked to comment on his award, he said, “Pennsylvania’s municipal governments have been on the threshold of embracing intermunicipal cooperative efforts for a number of years. This award is testament that it works, is efficient if led properly, and shows tangible results. I am honored to have been part of this exciting process and recognized for it.”
Municipalities in COGs pool their resources in a variety of ways, including sharing expensive equipment such as underground cameras that inspect sewer lines. Regularly scheduled COG meetings bring together elected officials from multiple municipalities for discussion and planning. In Beaver and Lawrence counties, 60 towns have saved many thousands of dollars by banding together for joint bidding on necessary supplies and products. COGs also oversee studies that aim to spur economic development, then work to implement results of studies.
Mr. Callen’s resume includes working with Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development when he was recovery plan coordinator for the city of Duquesne from 2001 to 2013.
Fun fact: the PACOG nomination mentioned Mr. Callen’s interest in acting, which has included, at times, membership in the Screen Actors Guild. He has had small parts in locally filmed movies, including "Mysteries of Pittsburgh," "She’s Out of My League," "My Bloody Valentine," "Sorority Row" and "Adventureland," which was shot at Kennywood Park. He plays a sheriff in the third episode of the A&E television series, “Those That Kill,” but that series was canceled after the second episode.
Mr. Callen lives in Peters with his wife of 40 years and their two dogs. They have three grown children and two grandchildren.
Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-722-0087.