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April 9, 2018
#WomensWork Feature: Missy Hartney
Written by Kate Racculia
Missy Hartney is working to change lives and minds. As Main Street Manager for the SouthSide Arts District, she oversees a strategic plan to improve the economic conditions for businesses and institutions on Bethlehem’s south side. She coordinates volunteer-based committees that build on the area’s artistic, cultural, and entrepreneurial heritage, with a mission to overcome the challenges that face the area. She’s helping South Bethlehem be seen for what it is: a vibrant place full of life, spirit, and energy. A place where you want to go on the weekend, after work; where you want to live or start your business.
She has a background in advertising sales, marketing and event planning, but it was a personal connection to South Bethlehem that drew her to this position. Her late father-in-law, Glenn Taggart, and his wife Donna were dedicated to the revitalization of the SouthSide; after his passing, the family created a foundation in his name, and has supported SouthSide organizations including Donegan Elementary School, the Hispanic Center Lehigh Valley, and Victory House. Now Missy marries her professional skills with her personal passions. “I love coming to work every day knowing that the work I’m doing is making a difference,” she says. “And I’d absolutely love if all the challenges and misconceptions of the SouthSide were forgotten. Forever.”
The SouthSide Arts District’s primary focus is the business district, knowing that, over time, improving economic conditions will naturally cascade to positively impact the surrounding community. Hartney sees women as a major driving force of the renewal. “There is some serious Girl Power in Bethlehem, particularly the SouthSide,” she says. “Many of our businesses and nonprofits are run by women; strong, passionate, hardworking women helping to shape our community and its future.”
That future gets closer through the efforts of women like Hartney—who didn’t always have a clear path in life. “Give yourself time to figure it out,” she counsels. “It’s okay if you don’t know when you go to college, or even when you leave college, or even after that. Don’t be afraid to not have the answers; but don’t sit back and hope they come to you. Do the work, figure out your strengths, and see where you fit in the world.”