My commitment to hard work came from my family. I grew up in Archbald where my father, the late Jack Blake, was a WW2 Navy Vet who worked at the Tobyhanna Army Depot for more than 30 years. My mom, the late Theresa Maslar Blake, was a hard-working mother of five and a very talented seamstress. My parents stressed faith, family, hard work and education – and they inspired my calling to public service. I have three sisters, all area residents, upon whom I count on for help and support. We lost my older brother Vince in 1977.
On a personal level, my beautiful wife Louise and I will celebrate 33 years of marriage in 2018. Louise worked for over 30 years as a dental hygienist in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wayne Counties. We have two wonderful children: Vince and Katie.
I went to Valley View High School; was president of my Senior Class; and played linebacker for legendary football coach Frank Pazzaglia. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to continue my academic career at Villanova University where I earned an undergraduate degree in Sociology and played defensive end for the Division I Villanova Wildcats. I earned a Masters Degree in Social Work from Marywood College and I earned an MBA in Finance from the University of Scranton’s Kania School of Management in 2001. I also completed Executive Education in Public Management at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Professionally, I served for 10 years as Executive Director of the Lackawanna County Redevelopment Authority, where I secured and leveraged over $50 million in federal, state and private investment for housing, community development, public works and infrastructure improvements to support regional business expansion, job growth and community revitalization.
In 1998, I was selected from among 9,000 applicants nationwide for a two-year Community Builders Fellowship with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), serving Eastern PA out of HUD’s PA State Office in Philadelphia.
That experience led me into the private sector, where, as vice-president for PNC Bank’s community development division, I managed and grew a $35 million portfolio of community development loans and investments and worked to focus some of the bank’s lending, investment and corporate giving activities in disinvested areas of Northeastern and Central PA.
I returned to public service as Director for the Northeast PA Office of the Governor – serving as a Rendell Administration liaison to local governments; academia; the business community; and to community and economic development professionals in 15 counties.
In 2007 I was appointed Executive Deputy Secretary for the PA Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), serving as the Department’s Chief Operating Officer. I managed over 300 staff and $1 billion annually in federal and state funding for community and economic development statewide. I also served as Acting Secretary of the Department in 2008-09, stewarding the state’s community and economic development mission through one of the worst recessions ever visited upon the Commonwealth of PA.
From 2010 to 2013 I served as a member of the Adjunct Faculty for the Economics and Finance Department at the Kania School of Management, teaching introductory economics to non-business undergraduate students of all grades at the University of Scranton.
My education, experience and local sensibilities inform and guide my beliefs about the value of public service and the virtues, duties and the responsibilities of holding public office. I am deeply honored and privileged to represent the people of the 22nd District in the PA State Senate. I work hard every day to ensure that I use informed judgment in serving their interests and to properly engage in their behalf in the important public policy debates – and yes, in the legislative battles, that mark our daily business in Harrisburg. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and I deeply appreciate the friendship and support of the people of the 22nd District.