2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty Honoree: Eric Gutshall
Eric Gutshall, Executive Director of the PA Higher Educational Facilities Authority, will be honored during the 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty on Aug. 26.
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The third annual AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event serves to highlight and showcase some of the most diverse and impactful young professionals across the Philadelphia region.
At this year's event, taking place Friday, Aug. 26, Eric Gutshall will be one of the 40 honorees.
In his role as Executive Director of the PA Higher Ed Facilities Authority & State Public School Build Authority, Eric Gutshall issues bonds and oversees more than $8.5 billion in outstanding bonds to educational institutions across the state.
Throughout his life, Gutshall has made his life in public service and politics. Prior to his current role, he worked for Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, first as the inaugural Director of Constituent Services, and then was appointed the first Secretary of Intergovernmental Affairs, where he oversaw all public engagement and intergovernmental affairs for the Governor.
Gutshall also serves as Vice President of the LEAGUE Foundation, a national organization that awards college scholarships to members of the LGBTQ community.
He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Central Pennsylvania College, and a Master's from the University of Pennsylvania.
As part of the lead-up to the AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event, AL DÍA asked each of the honorees a set of identical questions and collected their responses.
Here are Eric Gutshall's responses:
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional career?
It's been an honor and a privilege and beyond rewarding to have been able to design and build offices, commissions, operations, as well as create policy, legislation, and executive actions within government. But, doing so had its ups and downs and setbacks and redesigns. Changing government is a difficult and sometimes painfully slow process. On top of the sluggish nature of government change, I've been very lucky to hold several different positions at a young age. Youth can provide benefits, but it can also give you negatives when you're seeking to build credibility and action. Even more, being a poor young gay kid from rural Pennsylvania didn't provide me with political connections or favor. It was a challenge to break through and be able to show worth, competence, and value but I'm thankful for the hard work I put in and for the individuals who gave me a chance to get me to where I am today.
What are steps that can be taken to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in your industry? Why is it important to do so?
Having worked in government for most of my career, I firmly believe that for government to work, it has to look like the people it serves. That's why it's important and necessary that our elected officials, government executives, government agency heads, and all public sector employees be representative of the diversity that makes up the population. My dear friend Representative Malcolm Kenyatta often says, "The people closest to the pain should be the people closest to the power." Those words should ring through every public service building in efforts to make government look like the people it is supposed to serve. This power also lies with voters. We must elect more diverse individuals to achieve better results for the whole.
What does being a leader mean to you?
Leader is a weighty word, designation, and honor. To live up to the label of a leader, one must possess many different qualities and wear many different hats as a visionary, a doer, a changemaker, an advocate, a relationship cultivator, a coalition builder, a caretaker, and more. Leadership is about lifting people up, solving problems, and making communities, cities, and beyond better.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Well, five years ago I did not imagine I'd do or be able to do what I did in the last five years. My life's purpose is to work in public service and to find ways to make the lives of my fellow community members and my fellow Pennsylvanians better. Over the next five years and in five years from now, I hope to be continuing to do that through advocacy, community volunteerism, campaign work, and by making government work better.
The 2022 AL DÍA 40 Under Forty event will take place Friday, Aug. 26 at The Vie at Cescaphe. To learn more or purchase your ticket, click here.