Destination Erie: A Regional Vision will partner with the Regional Council of University Presidents (COUP) to present Bill Strickland, the fifth guest speaker in a series of educational public lectures. Strickland’s lecture, “Making the Impossible Possible,” takes place Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the Mary D'Angelo Performing Arts Center at Mercyhurst University from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Strickland will detail his crusade to inspire others to dream bigger and achieve the extraordinary.
Strickland is the president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild and Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh. He is recognized as a visionary leader whose organization, which now serves as a national model, provides professional training to adults, and educational and cultural opportunities to students, while fostering creativity, responsibility and hope. Strickland’s life changed when he learned the art of pottery from a high school art teacher and mentor in his native Pittsburgh. While still in college in 1968, he founded the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, now known as the MCG Youth and Arts Program, which serves about 3,900 young people each year through classes and workshops in areas such as ceramics and design.
It is also home to a Grammy-winning record label and a world-class jazz performance series. According to Strickland, the arts are critical to creating an atmosphere of culture and respect that will energize even the most troubled students. Strickland assumed the leadership of the Bidwell Training Center in 1972, a time when unemployment remained high in Pittsburgh and other Rust Belt cities as the steel industry declined. Partnering with local corporations and businesses, the center has successful job placement rates in diverse areas, ranging from health care to the culinary arts. Its positive work has attracted the attention of several presidents, including President Obama, who named Strickland a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions in 2010.
Strickland is working to replicate the Manchester Bidwell business model throughout the country. Currently, there are sites in San Francisco, Cincinnati, Grand Rapids and Cleveland. He is also the author of the 2009 book, Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary.
His Erie lecture is free and open to the public. Learn more about Bill Strickland here.