Convention center names new director

Rocco Alianiello hired to head facility

A Hollidaysburg man is taking over as executive director of the Blair County Convention Center.

In a special meeting Thursday, the convention center authority hired Rocco Alianiello, longtime food service distribution executive, to succeed Jim Boston, who is resigning Aug. 31 to accept another job.

Boston has been at the convention center since Dec. 3 when he was chosen to work with and succeed CEO Barry Kumpf, who was transitioning toward retirement.

While Boston declined to be specific on Thursday about his pending job, he described the offer as unsolicited and attractive.

“It was a hard decision to make,” Boston said after the authority meeting.

Authority members, during the meeting, offered their praise and appreciation.

“We’re very sorry to see Jim leave,” authority Vice Chairman Jamie VanBuren said. “I expected to be working with you for a very long time.”

Blair County Commissioner Ted Beam Jr., liaison to the authority, thanked Boston for his work on behalf of the convention center and endorsed Alianiello’s hiring.

“I’ve known Rocco a long time and expect him to do well,” Beam said. “He’s a people person.”

VanBuren said that when the authority learned of Boston’s pending resignation, it reviewed the job candidates considered before hiring Boston. While Alianiello was initially among the interested candidates, he later withdrew his name.

Knowing that Boston was leaving, VanBuren said a decision was made to contact Alianiello to see if he might be interested now.

“He was very available and excited about this,” VanBuren said.

The Mirror attempted Thursday to reach Alianiello about the new job but did not get a return phone call.

Alianiello was not at the authority’s meeting where the vote to hire him was unanimous, at a starting salary of $85,000.

Alianiello, whose resume indicates that his passion is “developing and leading teams,” has a long history in the food service industry, starting in January 1980 when he went to work for Sky Brothers as an accounting clerk and was later promoted to controller.

As the company changed ownership in the years that followed, he took on more responsibilities and ended his career in January 2017 as an area president for US Foods’ divisions in Altoona, Greensburg and Hurricane, W.Va.

Alianiello’s resume also indicates that he has experience with forecasting and developing business plans. That could prove to be a valuable asset with an ongoing convention center management transition program the authority approved in July when it signed a $29,000 contract with the Lytle Group of Hollidaysburg.

For that investment, the Lytle Group is expected to present a three-phase leadership development program — stretching over eight to nine months — that includes assessment of the convention center’s management, six half-day workshops and one-on-one sessions.

“That process, with the smidge of this hiccup, will move forward,” VanBuren said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.