Wetzel will work for the coalition on a one-year contract.
The coalition was created to foster regional economic development through cooperation among government, business and community leaders in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.
Former executive director Patrice Nelson resigned in March for personal reasons. She joined the coalition in 1985.
D'Alessio said Wetzel's prior contact with the business community will be an asset to the coalition's efforts to attract more business to the area.
Wetzel will remain on the We The People 2000 Committee, a group of business and community leaders that selects the Philadelphia Liberty Medal winner. Wetzel left Bell in September 1988.
Wetzel called the contract "a continuation of what I said I always wanted to do . . . I have always been pretty active in civic and business organizations before. Now I will have a chance to do this in a more comprehensive way.
"This is a great chance to further the work of the coalition."
Wetzel said that now is a good time to serve because his duties with the We The People committee will temporarily slow down after the Fourth of July activities. The medal is awarded as part of the festivities.
Lynn Martin Haskin has served as acting executive director since March and will become second-in-command. She has been with the coalition since 1987.
D'Alessio called the coalition's employees "an excellent team prepared to assume a leadership role following this interim period."
"We have the right mix of talent at this time," he said. "With continued cooperation and enthusiasm from the five counties, as well as lots of hard work, we can be optimistic about the economic health of this region."
D'Alessio called Haskin an "experienced executive in her own right," but she had not yet gained the experience necessary for the position." However, he said the coalition hoped that when Wetzel's contract expires, Haskin will be able to replace him.