A U-turn for assistant manager

Life isn’t always a straight line from birth to school to a lifelong career. For many, there’s at least one U-turn. And it was one of those U-turns that led Emily Pisano to become the new assistant township manager for Chadds Ford.

“I was shocked,” Pisano said while explaining the turn away from her degree in fashion merchandising to working for local governments. “All my life I had wanted to work in fashion.”

The 30-year-old from West Bradford received her degree from the University of Rhode Island and was involved with a shop that sold handbags. But even though that was satisfying at times, it wan’t enough.

“I realized that as much as I loved [working with fashion], I didn’t want my life to be in fashion. It’s not what I wanted for my career.”

An interest in government began developing, which she said surprised her. She knew some people involved in West Chester government and began talking with them about what careers were possible. She wound up getting an interview and then a job as a temp.

“It was an amazing opportunity for me to be able to do that,” Pisano said.

A few weeks into that job, a position as a program coordinator in the borough’s Parks and Rec Department opened. But that only lasted a few weeks because former West Chester Mayor Diane Herrin had recently been elected and asked Pisano to join her staff as an assistant to the mayor. For the next two years, Pisano was the assistant to the mayor and to the chief of police in West Chester Borough from May 2018 to December 2020.

When Herrin was elected to be a state representative, Pisano went with her to Harrisburg as district office director. She wanted to experience state government and gain more responsibility. She was with Herrin until this past April. There, she learned something new about herself.

“I realized that my heart was in local government and not state government,” she said.

Pisano went on to explain that what she really wanted to do was something where she could be involved with a community. That desire is what moved her from fashion into government, and away from state government back to local government.

She said selling a handbag that made a customer happy felt good to her, but she wanted to “go deeper and be more involved.” Pisano said she found that in government. But that wasn’t there for her at the state level. And that’s what eventually led her to Chadds Ford Township.

“Being with the state you’re very removed from the community because you are part of a much larger institution. Being able to work with residents, helping them solve their problems and take on those challenges, I like that. It’s fun. I like that no day is the same. I was shocked that I was interested in it because it wasn’t something I was ever interested in while in school.”

It's only been two months since Pisano started her job as assistant manager, but she said she’s continually warming up to it, and learning about the township. Growing up in West Bradford, she said she knew of Chadds Ford and knew about the Wyeth family, but not much else. Now she’s learning about the overall history of the township, and about the people.

Pisano said she wants to be a township manager somewhere, someday. Her job in Chadds Ford is part of that path. And she said that working with new township Manager Matt Baumann and the rest of the staff has been a great fit for her.

It’s a huge learning opportunity for me, which I love.”

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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