Bill Strickland Jr., president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, will be the featured speaker at Shady Side Academy's 2018 Commencement Exercises, held Friday, June 8, at 9 a.m. on the SSA Senior School campus at 423 Fox Chapel Road, Fox Chapel. SSA's graduating Class of 2018 includes 131 students.
Manchester Bidwell Corporation's diverse programming creates empowering educational environments for adults in transition as well as urban and at-risk youth. By constructing an empowering atmosphere of art, light and music, and a staff that strives to realize the genius in everyone, it enables students to become productive society members.
Strickland leads Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen's Guild (MCG), Bidwell Training Center (BTC) and National Center for Arts and Technology. His duties include developing and implementing major fundraising plans, working with boards of directors and industrial advisory boards, and encouraging participation of corporate executives from major multinational Pittsburgh corporations. He oversaw the development of a 40,000-square-foot production greenhouse for Phalaenopsis orchids and hydroponic vegetables and a 62,000-square-foot facility for MCG and BTC that includes a music/lecture hall, library, arts studios and labs, dining and meeting rooms, audio and video recording studios, and an equipment demonstration site.
Throughout his distinguished career, Strickland has received numerous honors for his contributions to the arts and the community. In 2012, he was selected to serve on the Task Force for Child Protection by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and in 2011, he traveled to Tokyo to receive the GOI Peace Award for his contributions to the advancement of world peace and humanity. In 2010, he was chosen by President Barack Obama to serve on the White House Council for Community Solutions. He also was chairman of the Expansion Arts Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and served a six-year presidential appointment as a council member to the NEA. In 2002, he was sworn in as a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania State Board of Education, a trustee at the Carnegie, and a consultant with the British/American Arts Association. In 1998, he accepted on behalf of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild the Coming Up Taller Award, presented in a White House ceremony by First Lady Hillary Clinton. In 1996, he received the MacArthur Genius Award for leadership and ingenuity in the arts.