Marketing and Community Relations Specialist,
City of Wheeling
Leaving Wheeling, her hometown, even for just a few years, made Allison O'Konski-Skibo all the more certain of one thing: She couldn't wait to come home.
So, a little more than two years ago when a job as marketing and community relations specialist with the City of Wheeling opened up, she jumped at it.
"It was such a blessing to know that I could come back and do something I would be really excited about," she said. "I wasn't necessarily passionate about what I had been marketing at my previous jobs.
"To have an opportunity to not only be back in my city, but promote it and help other people see why I love it. ... that's something I could be invested in personally as well as professionally."
Before heading off to college in 2004, she'd spent a summer as a cashier in the gift shop at Oglebay Resort's Good Zoo, "my first experience with customer service," she said. "But any experience with that teaches you a lot."
She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 with a degree in communications, then spent the next four years working at marketing jobs in Pittsburgh.
"I prefer Wheeling for a lot of reasons," she said. "I missed the people. I have a lot of friends and family here, and it's just a different world. I like being close to Pittsburgh, but I really enjoy the friendliness of Wheeling.
"Even the business climate is different. It's not as cutthroat. People are willing to help one another here."
Allison and her husband, Matt, now make their home in Wheeling, and she's active with a variety of organizations, including the Wheeling Convention & Visitors Bureau, Wheeling On-Trac/Downtown Wheeling Inc., the Elm Grove Business Association and Wheeling's Arts & Cultural Commission.
"It makes my job easier if I know what businesses are opening, what projects are happening, what people want to see going on in town," she said. "It's part of the community relations aspect of my position, but it doesn't ever feel like a burden. It's a responsibility I'm happy to accept."