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About the Alliance For Regional Stewardship

Alliance for Regional StewardshipThe Alliance for Regional Stewardship (ARS) is a national, peer-to-peer network of regional leaders working across boundaries to solve tough community problems. They come from business, government, education, and the civic sectors, but they share a common commitment to collaborative action and achieving results.

While everyone has been impacted by the economic crisis, some regions are feeling the brunt of the storm while others are weathering through. Just as severity of the crisis is being felt unequally, so to will growth will return unequally. The regions that are best aligned to tackle major issues such as transportation, education, land use planning and workforce will emerge faster and grow stronger.  ARS wants to help ensure your community is poised for a return to prosperity.

The ARS Network is for proven and aspiring regional leaders who recognize that economic competitiveness, a sustainable quality of life, and strong communities are all connected.  ARS supports these leaders and their efforts by helping them learn about effective practices from other regions, develop their own civic leadership skills, and design and carry out strategies for breakthrough results.

ARS Advisory Board 

To contact ARS staff email cgef@acce.org.

Our Principles

ARS is committed to the idea that strong and vibrant regional communities are built on an innovative economy, livable communities, social inclusion, and collaborative style of governance.

Our Mission

The mission of the Alliance for Regional Stewardship is to develop regional leaders and support regional initiatives that advance economic, social, and environmental progress in America's metropolitan regions.

Our History

In May 2000, 50 leaders from regions around the US gathered in Kohler, Wisconsin to explore the creation of a national network that would support regional initiatives and regional results.
A principal inspiration for the creation of the Alliance was the life and legacy of John W. Gardner, former HEW Secretary, founder of Common Cause and civic leader and author for more than five decades.  In a tribute to Gardner on his death in 2002, national columnist Neal Peirce noted Gardner's interest in regional organizing and initiatives, writing: "Gardner saw limits both in federal power and local activism. He became intrigued with metropolitan regions as the arena in which critical collaborations--for the economy, environment, social issues--must be forged, through expanded networks of responsibility.''

Gardner had a clear vision for the future of metropolitan leadership.  To succeed, regional efforts would have to:

 "...keep business leaders and their self-interest involved--civic good will is insufficient. Translate global issues into real-life regional issues people can understand. Communicate more vividly, to much broader audiences, the importance of region wide alliances to build better, shared futures--economic, environmental, social."  And, said Gardner, as tough and honest as ever:  'No more regionalism for its own sake.' The future demands tough, pragmatic regionalism--clear purposes, strong strategies."

Launched on the tide of Gardner's life and inspiration, in its first six years the Alliance achieved notable success in helping regional leaders drive regional solutions.  With seed funding from several national foundations, including Packard, Heinz, and MacArthur, the Alliance has brought together more than 1,500 regional leaders in 13 National Forums, published 11 monographs on subjects ranging from achieving regional equity to strengthening regional governance, developed new platforms of web-based networking for regional leaders, and provided consulting and advice to initiatives and civic campaigns in 16 regions across the country.  In a remarkably short period of time, ARS has become the nation's leading voice for and advisor to collaborative regional problem-solving.

Confident that the organization had established proof of concept in its first few years; in 2005 the ARS Board undertook the development of a Strategic Roadmap that articulated an aggressive expansion of the organization and its impact.  As the Roadmap took shape, the Board recognized that the organization would need a seasoned and entrepreneurial CEO to lead the effort.  After a national search, the Board hired David Thornburgh as the organization's first full-time President and CEO.  Thornburgh had served for 12 years as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Economy League in Philadelphia, a long-established business-led civic organization regarded as one of the nation's finest "think and do tanks" focused on driving regional competitiveness and regional solutions.

In 2006, the Alliance for Regional Stewardship became an affiliate of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives.  This collaboration helped to meet the critical needs of both organizations.  For ACCE, the Alliance brought new levels of expertise in regionalism, as well as an established network of sustainable development thought leaders and outstanding teaching materials.  ARS in turn, expanded its reach and influence into a thousand additional communities by aligning with ACCE.

Since the merger with ACCE and the eventual attachment to the association's foundation, CGEF, ARS has provided expertise for chamber-focused programs, information to be distributed broadly across the country and outstanding gatherings of regional thinkers and practitioners. Beginning in 2006, ARS has provided support for the Ford Foundation Regional Sustainable Development Fellowship, which has provided in-depth training to more than 100 community leaders from across the country.  This Fellowship has, in turn, greatly expanded the body of knowledge available to members and friends of ARS. The two most recent ARS forums - Pittsburgh 2008 and Raleigh 2009 - broke prior attendance records and further fostered the principles of the Alliance. In 2008, the Parr Award for individual commitment to regional vision and development was created, with ARS co-founder John Parr and former chair Joan Riehm receiving the first honors.  The organizational awards program was also revamped in 2008.

Support ARS

ACCE Members receive many of the benefits of ARS Membership.  The Alliance depends, however, on additional investments from chambers, educators, CBOs, economic development entities and consultants.  Your modest support is essential to the continuation of the work of ARS.

For information on how to join ARS email cgef@acce.org.

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