“We really have tried to move upstream, to deal with prevention, to help people before they have to penetrate the system,” Cherna says. “It’s always a challenge because it’s hard to get funding for that. That’s one of the legacies I’m most proud of — like our Family Support Centers, in 28 communities, where you can just walk in and get help.”

Under Cherna’s leadership, funding for human services tripled, with new funding streams lessening what the county contributes. His focus on service delivery made payments to vendors more efficient, and the collaborative approach with partners such as businesses, universities, community organizations and foundations made service delivery more effective, according to Fitzgerald.

“Other communities want to learn from us and model their own operations after his successes,” says Fitzgerald. “Marc’s stewardship of this department has resulted in millions of dollars in grants coming to this community.”

Cherna plans to stay in Pittsburgh, where one of his children also lives.

“This is my home,” he says. “The first thing is to get through this [pandemic]. Such a strange environment, working remotely. My youngest grandchild is two weeks old and I can’t see her until I get the vaccine.”