There was recent article in the newspaper celebrating Lorna Swisher’s 20 years as executive director of Mainstreet Piqua. In the article, she remarked that she has been “blessed” to be in this position for so many years in our community. Well, I think she is a little confused; we are the ones who have been “blessed” by her leadership and outstanding performance for 20 years.
Having been on the board of Mainstreet Piqua when Lorna was hired, I can attest to the fact that because of her leadership, this organization has become one of the most important assets of the Piqua community. She is an advocate for the merchants in the downtown business district and has brought events to our downtown that have highlighted and increased their businesses. Her work ethic is one that I have never seen before. Although she was supposed to be a part-time employee, Lorna is always at the helm when an event begins and stays until everything is back in place. Her door is always open to many visitors and constituents in our community and beyond. She has administered many grant fundings in our downtown and because of her commitment our downtown now is a beautiful place for which our residents can be proud.
The following is a collections of comments from friends and colleagues of Lorna who wanted to be part of this tribute.
“Given its great coffee, awesome historic buildings, friendly people, and downtown businesses I enjoy visiting, but Lorna is still my favorite reason to travel to Piqua!” — Frank Quinn, director of Preservation at Heritage Ohio
“Lorna Swisher is one of the most positive people on the planet, by using her Facebook page to promote positive action, deeds and thoughts … she keeps Facebook a safe place to visit.” — Joyce Barrett, executive director of Heritage Ohio
“Lorna exhibits the fun, love and care that is required to bring together a community and accomplish great things! We are all so lucky to have her as a part of our world.” — Frances Jo Hamilton, director of Revitalization of Heritage Ohio
“I have known Lorna for many years. First when working with me in the early years of the Miami County Visitors Bureau, then as the Mainstreet Director for Piqua. She is my colleague, collaborator, champion, defender, instigator, (OK, maybe that’s more me), and one of my closest friends. I am honored to know her.” — Diana Thompson, executive director, Miami County Visitors Bureau
“Lorna puts her heart and soul into every project she does to help the downtown and community. Sometimes she gets grief but she always has a smile on her face and the determination to do anything, even when it rains during a downtown event. Thanks to Lorna, we have a growing downtown.” — Mary Beth Barhorst, manager, Readmore’s Hallmark in downtown Piqua
“Lorna brought vitality and new ideas to the Mainstreet Piqua organization and our downtown when she first came on board. I value our relationship that we have had over the years. As I have told her many times, she is the brains and I am the brawn in most situations.” — Gary Anderson, owner Apple Tree Gallery
“Lorna epitomizes the special individuals who love Piqua and work tirelessly to make it a better place. Her dedication to her profession and to the businesses and citizens of Piqua is legendary. We are so fortunate to have her as part of our community.” — Gary Huff, Piqua city manager
“I first volunteered for Lorna at a Holly Jolly Run many years ago and have volunteered for Mainstreet Piqua ever since. Lorna does not have an event that doesn’t succeed. She is the face of downtown Piqua and that face is bright, smiling and full of hope and promise. As the current Board President of Mainstreet Piqua, I have personally seen how hard she works day after day on events. The bad weather never dampens her spirits and she never stops looking for another successful event at the end of the rainbow.” — Cathy Oda, board president of Mainstreet Piqua
“We are so thankful to have Lorna in our community for 20 years. She is part of the reason our community is as wonderful as it is. I celebrate with the community at all the good work she does for us over and beyond her position as Director of Mainstreet Piqua.” — Kazy Hinds, mayor of Piqua
“I don’t think people realize the huge impact Lorna has made to the economic viability of our entire community. Not only does she interact with downtown business owners, managers and employees but she has built a network of local, county and state officials, business leaders and funders who have aided in the progress of our town. She has raised thousands of dollars to support programs and citywide initiatives while working with a large number of volunteers to provide those programs to our residents and business professionals. It’s a privilege to volunteer for Lorna. She is so much fun to work with and a vital asset to our Piqua community.” — Cheryl Stiefel-Francis, volunteer for Mainstreet Piqua and executive director of the Miami County Foundation
As I finalize this article, I think it is clear to everyone that we, indeed, are very blessed to have such a positive leader in Piqua. Keep up the good work, Lorna, as you can see we are thrilled to have you in our midst.
Ruth A. Koon is the Beautification Committee chairman for Mainstreet Piqua.