Willy McKain, Sunset Hills, has dedicated his life to public service. Before spending more than a decade as Allegheny County’s manager, he was Mt. Lebanon’s director of finance. “I loved my time there. I only left because other wonderful opportunities came,” he said.
Now, McKain finds himself in a brand new role in the private sector. In February, he became the chief operating officer for the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. The conference is the sole organization committed to the economic future and quality of life of southwestern Pennsylvania’s 10-county area. By bringing together public and private sector leaders, the conference builds partnerships to advance a shared vision for the future. “It’s very similar to what I’ve done my entire career in public service,” said McKain.
As chief operating officer, McKain oversees 65 employees and internal operations, including human resources, investor relations, information technology and facilities management, in addition to managing the strategic plan.
As Allegheny County manager, he oversaw 5,000 employees and 20 departments. While he credits the county administration and staff for what he was able to accomplish, two of his proudest achievements are the launch of the park ranger program in Allegheny County’s parks and the creation of the county’s Department of Children Initiatives. In addition to enhancing the experience in county parks, park rangers help beef up police and law enforcement resources for neighboring communities, while the Department of Children Initiatives helps improve access to before-and -after school programs for Allegheny County children and families. “It’s an investment on the front end for a return on the back end,” McKain said.
McKain is a certified public accountant who obtained degrees in accounting and business management from Robert Morris University.
He credits his time working for Mt. Lebanon for preparing him for what followed.
“I think Mt. Lebanon’s high standards and quality of work and high-quality delivery of services helped prepare me for county government, for sure, and that carried on to here (Allegheny Conference),” he said.
His hope for the region’s future mirrors that of the conference: collaboration and public/private partnerships. “I have lived here my entire life, so I’m obviously biased, but what sets Pittsburghers apart is that they actually care; they work together to solve problems and get things done for the betterment of the community and they do it in a humble way. That’s what separates us from other communities. People like working together to solve problems and they do it unselfishly,” he said.
Whatever the next big thing for our region might be, McKain and the Allegheny Conference want to be part of it. “We want to be a leader in any emerging markets. We’re the new Pittsburgh,” he added. “The Allegheny Conference is open for business.”