Whitinsville, MA (April 3, 2018) – Following six successful years at Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. (BHC), Megan DiPrete has accepted the position of Chief, Division of Planning and Development at Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM).
DiPrete was the first full-time staff person at BHC, starting her tenure in May of 2012. She was instrumental in transitioning BHC from a Federal Commission to the thriving non-profit organization that it is today, working to help develop the organization’s first-ever 10 year strategic plan, refreshing the branding and logos, and creating a new web site. For the past year, she has served as BHC’s Executive Director, focusing her efforts on establishing a plan for the long-term sustainability of the organization.
Drawing on her experience in both community planning and construction management, DiPrete brought a number of projects to BHC’s portfolio that protect the natural and historical resources of the Blackstone River Valley, cultivate a generation of stewardship and enhance the community vitality of the 25 cities and towns in the National Heritage Corridor. DiPrete’s work with BHC has always kept an eye toward how community visions and project opportunities might fit together. For example, when she became aware of state funding available to purchase bike racks in Massachusetts, DiPrete reached out to the eligible communities and helped complete the grant planning and reporting. Ultimately, bike racks, fix-it stations and other cycling infrastructure worth more than $20,000 was installed in 8 communities.
In Rhode Island, the Blackstone River Watershed Council / Friends of the Blackstone was hoping to partner with a state agency and the National Park Service to construct a replica barn at the Kelly House and Transportation Museum in the Blackstone River State Park. Learning that the partners had the will, DiPrete and BHC stepped in with “the way” and facilitated the construction process and project management.
From the very beginning, DiPrete’s work with the not-for-profit organization has included shepherding the development of the Blackstone River Bikeway, a 48-mile long on-road and off-road bike system. When DiPrete joined BHC in 2012, the project was about 35% complete. Entering 2018, the Bikeway is nearly 60% complete, and other sections are in construction and design. DiPrete was also responsible for guiding BHC in the move to Whitinsville. In 2015, Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor operations had been based at the historic Woonsocket, RI Depot building for more than 20 years. When notified that landlord/owner RI DOT had other plans for the space, DiPrete took the lead by identifying the Linwood Mill office space. Not only is the site nearly in the geographic center of the National Heritage Corridor, but the building itself is a reclaimed mill deeply connected to the nationally-significant stories of the Blackstone River Valley. Redevelopment of the site in recent years preserved the integrity of the structure and included environmentally-sensitive techniques.
“It is difficult to leave,” DiPrete said recently. “Having been part of the transition to a strong non-profit organization, part of the resurgence of volunteer stewardship throughout the region, working with an amazing team of people and shepherding projects that will have a lasting impact, I am so pleased not only with what we have shown we can do, but am also excited for the possibilities of the future.”
Deputy Director Devon Kurtz has been named Acting Executive Director while BHC’s Board of Directors prepares for an Executive search.
Join us as we bid farewell to Megan on Tuesday, April 10 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in BHC’s office, 670 Linwood Ave., Whitinsville, MA. Drop in to share congratulations and best wishes. Light refreshments will be served.
About Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc.:
An energetic nonprofit, the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, Inc. partners with organizations, local communities, businesses and residents to ensure the long term vitality of the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Learn more at BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org.