Upper St. Clair man with long history of community service takes reins of Peters Township Chamber of Commerce
Brian Schill concedes he “might be a little extroverted.”
To those who know him, that's an understatement.
Schill's personable nature, coupled with public relations skills honed over a long and varied career, have landed him in the top position at the 375-member Peters Township Chamber of Commerce.
“I love to help people,” said Schill, 50, of Upper St. Clair, who was hired as executive director in October.
“It's one of the reasons I'm in this job. My motto is the more people I know, the more people I can help.”
Schill replaces Carol Foley, who died in July at 73. She served the chamber for 25 years. A photograph of Foley hangs in the chamber office to remind Schill of the legacy he's inherited.
“It's a huge challenge,” Schill said of taking over the role of such a respected community member. “Carol was very well loved here in Peters. The road is well paved thanks to Carol.”
Schill spent 20 years in the Air Force and was a pilot with the 171st Air Refueling Wing until his retirement as a lieutenant colonel in 2006. His position with the chamber is part time.
Joseph Jasek, chamber president, said members are excited to have Schill on board.
“With all his contacts, he'll help the chamber continue to prosper,” Jasek said. “We're looking forward to working with him for many years.”
A self-described community service “addict,” he is the past president of the Rotary Club of Upper St. Clair-Bethel Park and public relations director for the Military Affairs Coalition of Western Pennsylvania.
Schill is a board member of the Clarion University Alumni Association, the Combined Federal Campaign and the Pittsburgh Region of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service.
In 2009, a medical diagnosis brought pause to the busy community member. Schill, who had been experiencing bloating despite eating very little, went through a slew of test before doctors found he had non-Hodgkins lymphoma, or cancer of the lymphoid tissue — which includes the lymph nodes, spleen and other parts of the immune system.
Schill was surprised but not devastated. He said because his children — Lucas, 28; Derek, 24; and Brianna, 21 — were grown, he was comfortable dealing with the diagnosis.
“When you go through that, you find out a lot of things,” he said. “Some people ask, ‘Why me?' I asked, ‘Why not?' As long as it wasn't my wife (Linda) or kids.”
He underwent a stem cell transplant and continued two years of follow-up chemotherapy, which he completed in November.
He was still undergoing treatment when he accepted the chamber position in October, and had no interest in remaining retired.
“I'm very active, very high speed, very go-go-go,” he said.
He's hoping to infuse that energy into efforts to further connect Peters businesses with the community.
“A lot of people want to start their business here and do business here,” Schill said. “I want to offer more than just business-to-business. I want to add some community partnerships.”
Jasek reiterated that goal.
“We've taken it upon ourselves to reinvent the way business is being done,” he said. “Small chambers like ours are going a bit by the wayside. We have a unique relationship with the school district and township.”
Schill said that while he believes the Route 19 corridor is strong in retail and health care businesses, he's heard from some shoppers that they'd like more restaurants.
He plans to partake in discussions with township officials about Peters' next comprehensive plan to determine what the town's exact needs are.
Community blood drives, support of nonprofits and providing mentors for local schools are just a few initiatives Schill hopes to nurture.
“We have the opportunity to not just be a business network, but a community network,” he said.
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or firstname.lastname@example.org.