When you pull out your keepsake edition of the 2021 City & State Pennsylvania Power 100 and compare the names on that list to the names on this year’s edition, one thing becomes clear pretty quickly (OK, two things, if you actually held on to last year’s edition): Regardless of which sphere of influence you are part of in Pennsylvania, change is the only constant.
Roughly one-third of the positions on our list are occupied by people new to it this year, and next year will be no exception, especially at the top, with the imminent departures of Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.
So read on to learn more about those who made this list, which was written by freelancer Hilary Danailova, to meet the leaders whose fortunes have been favored through yet another year of pandemic-impacted transition. Politicians elected to new offices, members of the administration, veteran lawmakers, influential lobbyists, labor leaders and other notable players are all profiled here as they make their presence felt throughout the commonwealth.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s second term, which began in 2019, has been defined by his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the increasing urgency of Republican efforts to undermine his power through constitutional amendments. Wolf oversaw a succession of pandemic mitigation and vaccination efforts and directed the state’s ongoing recovery, including additional funding for schools struggling with the impact of pandemic closures. He is currently pushing General Assembly Republicans to support his $1.7 billion PA Opportunity Program, which would use American Rescue Plan Act dollars for direct stimulus payments, small business support, childcare and other priorities.
Third-term Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey is a stalwart of the Pennsylvania political landscape – all the more so with the imminent departure of his Republican counterpart, retiring Sen. Pat Toomey. Once viewed as a centrist, Casey has become a more vocal opponent of Republicans since the Trump era, moving left on issues like gun control; his pro-life stance will face its most critical test yet as the Supreme Court is poised to eviscerate Roe v. Wade. The Scranton native serves on the Senate’s finance, intelligence, aging and HELP committees, and recently announced funding for major carbon reduction and infrastructure initiatives.
Much as the soaring Comcast towers have remade Philadelphia’s skyline, Brian Roberts has brought Comcast, the Philadelphia-based communications behemoth, into the forefront of a digital era over three decades of leadership. Roberts took over Comcast from his father, founder Ralph Roberts, and runs the world’s second-largest broadcast and cable company, with 189,000 employees, three primary businesses – Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal and Sky – and $116 billion in annual revenue. A major Democratic Party donor, Roberts has been recognized by Barron’s as one of the “World’s Best CEOs.”
After six years as a congressman and more than a decade in the U.S. Senate, Republican Pat Toomey will leave office when his second term ends next year. Toomey’s Senate tenure has been defined by prioritizing fiscal and budgetary issues, and his scrutiny of spending earned him an appointment to the COVID-19 Congressional Oversight Commission, which performs a monthly economic assessment of federal pandemic legislation. A harsh critic of former president Donald Trump, Toomey has built a brand of voting both along and across party lines.
Pennsylvania’s high-profile attorney general, Josh Shapiro, is currently the unopposed Democratic candidate for governor. Shapiro was first elected in 2016 and emerged as a powerful counterweight against the Trump administration, first on immigration policy and later on legal challenges to the 2020 presidential election results. Shapiro is also known for leading a statewide investigation into widespread sex abuse coverups within Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses, joining multi-state lawsuits against Facebook and Google, and championing voting rights as he looks ahead to November.
The top-ranking official in the state Senate, Republican Jake Corman became president pro tempore in 2020 after having served as majority leader, where he shaped the agenda for the Senate Republican Caucus. Corman has represented the 34th District from Central Pennsylvania since 1999 and recently ended his campaign to succeed Tom Wolf as governor. His legislative accomplishments include supporting laws to overhaul and modernize Pennsylvania’s pension system, fund state infrastructure and transportation needs, and combat college campus hazing.
As head of UPMC, Leslie Davis leads a $23 billion global health care system with programs on four continents, as well as the Keystone State’s largest non-governmental employer and a medical insurer to more than 4 million members. Davis previously ran UPMC’s Health Services Division, overseeing 40 hospitals and other facilities across the Mid-Atlantic region. Over her 30-year career, she has also held key positions at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Labor veteran Neal Bisno has been executive vice president of SEIU since 2016, overseeing a union whose 2 million members represent health care, property services and the public sector. During his tenure, Bisno has advocated for a $15 minimum wage, COVID-19 safety protections, and racial and economic justice, ensuring his union’s voice was heard in the 2020 presidential campaign cycle. Prior to his national role, Bisno was president of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, advocating for statewide Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act.
After more than a decade of advocacy for Pennsylvania businesses large and small, Gene Barr is retiring this year as head of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Keystone State’s largest business advocacy association, as well as its for-profit subsidiary, PA Chamber Insurance. Barr, a former executive director of the Associated Petroleum Industries of Pennsylvania, joined the Chamber in 2003 and has been CEO since 2011, leading legislative and regulatory efforts critical to improving Pennsylvania’s business climate.
Pittsburgh native Max Baer was elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2003, and, as the senior jurist, became chief justice last year when Thomas Saylor retired. Last year, Baer and his colleagues were in the spotlight when the court overturned Bill Cosby’s sex assault conviction on a technicality. Baer, a former Allegheny County judge and deputy attorney general for the commonwealth, will face mandatory retirement this year at age 75.
One of the nation’s most powerful executives, Alan Miller founded Universal Health Services in 1979. UHS is now a Fortune 500 company with more than $11 billion in annual revenue and 400 facilities across the U.S. and the U.K. Miller is also the founding CEO, president and board chair of Universal Health Realty Income Trust, which has more than 70 investments. The Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center recently announced the renaming of their flagship Merriam Theater as Miller Theater to honor his philanthropy.
Longtime union power broker Ryan Boyer is ushering in a new era for the Philadelphia region’s organized labor as the first Black business manager of the influential – and historically majority-white – Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council. After representing the region’s only majority-Black building unions as head of the Laborers District Council for a decade, Boyer will continue his efforts to bring racial inclusivity to Philadelphia’s building trades.
Few lieutenant governors have achieved the name recognition of John Fetterman, whose Senate primary campaign made no efforts to hide his tattoos, soul patch and formerly undocumented wife. Fetterman’s unconventional, what-you-see-is-what-you-get brand is working: He easily won the Democratic nomination in the state primary for U.S. Senate despite suffering a stroke just days earlier. He was a frontrunner the majority of the race and won handily, with more than half the total votes. Fetterman, the former mayor of Braddock, is known for championing progressive policies on issues like racial justice and cannabis legalization.
After stepping in to fill the remainder of Mike Turzai’s term as speaker in 2020, House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler was unanimously reelected to his first full term last year, cementing his status as one of Pennsylvania’s most powerful politicians. Cutler, a Lancaster Republican who represents the 100th District, was first elected in 2006 and became majority whip in 2018, championing lobbying reform and election auditing. He beat back a primary challenge from Anne Weston, who had criticized his support for mail-in voting.
In 2008, Kim Ward became the first woman elected to represent Pennsylvania’s 39th Senatorial District, and is currently the first woman to serve as majority leader in the history of the Pennsylvania legislature. Ward, a Republican from Westmoreland County, chairs the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee. She has sponsored several key pieces of legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a law requiring the state health department to report disease updates to emergency responders.
First elected in 1997, Republican Kerry Benninghoff is currently the House majority leader, representing parts of Centre and Mifflin counties. He currently chairs the House Rules Committee and is a member of the Committee on Committees. A leader on health initiatives, Benninghoff, who lost a child to cancer, is the founder and former chair of the bipartisan Cancer Caucus, which advocates for cancer research at the state level.
First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014 to represent Pennsylvania’s 13th District, Democrat Brendan Boyle is now the 2nd District congressman, representing Northeast Philadelphia, under electoral maps redrawn in 2018. Boyle, a former three-term state representative, serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget committees. In 2020, the Democratic National Convention featured Boyle as one of 17 “rising stars,” delivering the keynote address. He ran unopposed in his 2022 primary race.
Kevin Mahoney is behind many of Penn Medicine’s high-profile recent innovations, from ambitious campus additions to a new cardiovascular research institute to a digital health records and scheduling system. Mahoney, who has been with Penn Medicine since 1996, became CEO in 2019. He recently oversaw the opening of The Pavilion, the largest capital project in Penn’s history, a $1.6 billion hospital that includes a new emergency department. It also houses the Abramson Cancer Center, which recently secured a $10 million gift.
In 2018, Madeleine Dean was one of four Democratic women newly elected to Congress from Pennsylvania, whose delegation had previously been all-male. Prior to becoming a congresswoman, Dean was a state representative, where she founded the PA-SAFE Caucus, a coalition against gun violence, and was appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to the Pennsylvania Commission for Women. In the House, Dean, a member of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Taskforce, has championed legislation supporting health care, student loan relief and criminal justice reform. She ran unopposed in this month’s primary.
Malcolm Kenyatta’s ambition was evident in 2018, when, at age 28, he became the first openly LGBTQ candidate of color elected to Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. Kenyatta, a lifelong Philadelphian, recently came up short in his historic bid to be the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in November to fill the seat vacated by the retiring Sen. Pat Toomey. Kenyatta serves as vice-chair of the Philadelphia Delegation in the General Assembly, as a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Suicide Prevention, and in various committee leadership positions.
Centrist Conor Lamb prompted a widespread sigh of relief from Democrats when he won a 2018 special election for the then-18th Congressional District. Reelected to represent the redrawn 17th Congressional District, Lamb was beaten in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate by John Fetterman to contest U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat in November. Lamb, a former U.S. Marine, is vice-chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure and Science, Space and Technology committees.
Retired Harrisburg music teacher Rich Askey has headed the Pennsylvania State Education Association since 2018. He oversees a 178,000-member organization that advocates at the state level for education professionals and provides its members with legal resources, professional development and other services. Gov. Tom Wolf recently named Askey to the state’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, the first of its kind nationally, advising the governor and state agencies on policies, programs and legislation affecting LGBTQ communities.
Drexel President John Fry’s expansive vision and prodigious fundraising – $750 million in the latest campaign, and several mid-eight-figure gifts – were recognized with last year’s William Penn Award, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s highest honor for a business executive. Fry’s 12-year tenure has yielded Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships, an affiliation with the Academy of Natural Sciences and Schuylkill Yards, a $3.5 billion collaborative mixed-use project under development. Fry also recently announced a $575 million campus gene therapy center.
Wendell Pritchett, the University of Pennsylvania’s first president of color, is no stranger to firsts. Before stepping in for the departing President Amy Gutmann in February, Pritchett served as Penn’s first Black provost. Pritchett, who holds a doctorate in history from Penn, also serves as the James S. Riepe Presidential Professor of Law and Education. In April, Pritchett announced the university had secured a $17.5 million gift to begin construction on the region’s only major indoor track and field facility.
Attorney James Segerdahl has been global managing partner since 2017 at K&L Gates, one of the world’s largest law firms. Segerdahl is a leading insurance coverage lawyer whose expertise includes complex litigation on a wide range of commercial issues for clients that include Fortune 500 companies. During Segerdahl’s tenure, K&L Gates has established global diversity hours for its lawyers and opened an eighth European office. Segerdahl is a board member of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Timothy DeFoor is Pennsylvania’s first Republican auditor general in a quarter-century – and the first Black man to hold that office. DeFoor has a long background in financial auditing: Elected Dauphin County controller in 2015, he saved or recovered more than $1 million during his first term and created the county’s first audit division. Prior to that, DeFoor investigated fraud and waste during stints with the state’s Attorney General and Inspector General, as well as in the private sector.
Dave Henderson had been a union member for 40 years when he assumed leadership of AFSCME Council 13 in 2021. A former corrections officer and a third-generation AFSCME member, Henderson worked his way through various union posts and now oversees a membership of 65,000 Pennsylvania public sector workers across fields including health care, education, corrections and sanitation. Henderson leads advocacy around pay, benefits and safety, and his membership’s support is often decisive at election time.
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly has long been known for his family car dealerships, but lately, he’s also a YouTube star, with more than 3 million combined views for videos of his speeches on the floor of the House. His notoriety has soared since the 2020 election as he became a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump and his stolen-election claims. Kelly, who has represented the 16th District for more than a decade, serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Oversight. Kelly ran unopposed in his May primary.
Hershey’s first female CEO is Michele Buck, who assumed leadership in 2017 after a decade of progressive responsibility at Pennsylvania’s storied chocolatier. Buck, who previously worked at Kraft/Nabisco and Frito-Lay, specializes in branding, consumer insights and sustainable business practices. At Hershey, Buck has overseen double-digit sales and earnings growth, added high-profile brands like Pirate’s Booty, and advanced environmental practices as well as diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Buck also serves on the board of New York Life, the Fortune 100 financial services company.
Before taking the reins of Independence Health Group last year, Gregory Deavens served as executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of a company whose revenue was nearly $22 billion in 2020. Deavens is the first African-American to lead Independence, the parent of Independence Blue Cross, one of the nation’s largest health insurers. He has steered Independence through COVID-19 initiatives totaling $700 million in value, as well as a series of programs aimed at addressing racial disparities in health care.
Experts from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have been a seemingly ubiquitous media presence throughout the pandemic – a testament to the prominence of the institution overseen since 2015 by Madeline Bell. Bell, a prodigious fundraiser, led the development of CHOP’s pediatric ambulatory care network and major additions to its Philadelphia and King of Prussia campuses. She chairs the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, is a director of Comcast, and serves on the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee.
Political strategist Ray Zaborney is the force behind Republican success in Harrisburg and beyond. Zaborney is a founding partner in Red Maverick Media, a company that has directed Republican campaigns including those of state Sens. John DeSantis and Mike Regan, as well as Maverick Strategies, a lobbying firm. Having advised the Pennsylvania Republican Party, House and Senate Republican Campaign Committees, and numerous legislators, Zaborney is not only a factor in Pennsylvania elections, but also in furthering the conservative agenda.
Republican Stan Saylor was first elected to the Pennsylvania legislature in 1992, when some of the chamber’s newer members were college freshmen. Representing the 94th District in York County, Saylor, a leader in fiscal policy, currently chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee as well as the Committee on Committees. He is also on the House Rules Committee and previously served as Republican Whip and Republican Policy Committee chair. Saylor lost his primary race this month in an upset.
When the Philadelphia Parking Authority, Microsoft, or the Kimmel Center need a professional advocate in Harrisburg, they turn to Wojdak Government Relations, where Steve Crawford has served as president since 2011. Crawford’s legislative relationships span a three-decade career in public service, including as chief of staff to then-Gov. Ed Rendell, deputy secretary of agriculture for then-Gov. Bob Casey, and administrative posts in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. At Wojdak, Crawford oversees a lobbying firm known for representing Fortune 500 companies and major institutions.
As head of PNC Financial Services Group, William Demchak oversees the nation’s fifth-largest commercial bank, with $19 billion in 2021 revenue, up from $16 billion the prior year. Demchak joined PNC as chief financial officer in 2002 after serving as global head of Structured Finance and Credit Portfolio for JP Morgan Chase. A western Pennsylvania native, Demchak chairs the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance and serves on the board of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, the Extra Mile Education Foundation, and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
Over a half-century in Philadelphia, Stephen Cozen built Cozen O’Connor from four attorneys to nearly 800 lawyers in offices across the U.S., the United Kingdom and Canada. Cozen oversees a full-service law firm with numerous landmark cases to its credit – and attorneys who have been repeatedly named to industry lists of top lawyers. In addition to numerous civic involvements, Cozen is a fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Those wondering which way the policy winds are blowing often look to Mark Alderman, who founded and chairs Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies, the bipartisan government relations division of the international law firm. A power player in both Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., Alderman is an expert in health care and cannabis policy and co-hosts the Beltway Briefing podcast. Alderman, a Democratic Party stalwart, was a member of the 57th Electoral College and has served as Pennsylvania chair of the Democratic National Committee’s National Finance Committee.
Few Pennsylvanians are as politically connected as Leslie Gromis Baker, a veteran fundraising consultant with strong ties to the Pennsylvania Republican Party. Baker currently oversees state and federal government relations at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, specializing in the federal, Pennsylvania and Florida teams. She worked in the White House under President George H.W. Bush, was the mid-Atlantic chair for President George W. Bush’s presidential runs and also served in the administrations of Govs. Tom Ridge and Tom Corbett.
A former aide to three Pennsylvania governors – Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker and Ed Rendell – Patty Mackavage brings her accumulated knowledge and connections to Duane Morris Government Strategies, where she directs the Harrisburg office. Mackavage has extensive experience representing clients at the local and state levels, with particular expertise supporting policy interests relating to the state budget process, public finance and economic development. Mackavage has successfully advocated for various brownfield projects across Pennsylvania and secured millions of dollars in grants and loan commitments from government sources.
Best known in his first term for the groundbreaking beverage tax he introduced to fund Philadelphia’s first universal pre-K program, Mayor Jim Kenney finds his second term defined by the challenges of the pandemic, racial tensions that flared after the George Floyd murder, and a surge in violent crime. Just after his second swearing-in, Kenney declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19, then managed the city through sometimes-violent racial protests and a turbulent vaccination campaign while guiding the city’s ongoing recovery from COVID-19.
Since riding a wave of progressive enthusiasm to office in 2017, District Attorney Larry Krasner has remained among the highest-profile prosecutors nationally. Krasner’s vision for criminal justice reform has won him accolades, especially during the 2020 protests following the killing of George Floyd, but soaring crime rates – particularly car-jackings and homicides – have given fodder to harsh critics of his policies. Elected to a second term last year, Krasner is tasked with balancing priorities in a city plagued with both historic racial disparities and a serious crime problem.
Since 2018, Dan Greenstein has promoted educational opportunity and workforce preparation as head of Pennsylvania’s state system of public universities, which serves more than 100,000 degree-seeking students and others in professional training programs. Greenstein’s biggest achievement was the 2021 consolidation of six state universities into two, a move aimed at shoring up long-term finances and sustainability as enrollment declines. Greenstein has also focused on career-specific credentials, increased affordability, and the #Prepared4PA program of private-sector mentoring and training.
When she defeated the incumbent Pennsylvania treasurer in 2020 despite being outspent in the race, Stacy Garrity demonstrated the kind of fiscal savvy she prizes in her statewide role. As treasurer, Garrity has prioritized transparency, waste reduction, education affordability and the return of more than $4 billion in unclaimed property to its rightful owners. Garrity is a former vice president of Global Tungsten & Powders Corp. and a retired Army Reserve colonel who was decorated for her service in Operation Desert Storm.
After a 15-year stint heading other corporations, John Zillmer returned to lead Aramark, the global hospitality and facilities management company where he had previously worked for two decades. Zillmer oversees an industry giant that serves hundreds of campuses, correctional facilities and other venues with food, beverage and uniform services as well as supply chain management. Under his leadership, the company rebranded and expanded its leisure division, Aramark Destinations, and launched an Executive Diversity Council that has garnered awards for its inclusive hiring practices.
As President of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776 Keystone State, Wendell Young IV represents 35,000 members in fields ranging from supermarkets and drugstores to state liquor stores and nursing homes. His 17-year tenure includes the 2018 merger with Local 23 that consolidated the larger, more powerful UFCW Local 1776 Keystone State. Young is also a vice president of the UFCW International Union and president of the board of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
India-born Neeli Bendapudi is the first woman and person of color to become president of Penn State. Bendapudi, a marketing and consumer behavior expert, comes to Pennsylvania from the University of Louisville, where she won plaudits for boosting student recruitment, enrollment and diversity, as well as the four-year graduation rate. Bendapudi also excelled in fundraising, recruiting important donors and financially stabilizing Louisville’s health system during her tenure.
As the Republican leader of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick has been urging colleagues to collaborate on issues like lowering gas prices and drug costs. Fitzpatrick was just named “Most Bipartisan Representative” for the third straight year by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University’s Bipartisan Index. A former FBI special agent and federal prosecutor, Fitzpatrick sits on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment, and Cyber, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Fitzpatrick won his primary for reelection this month.
Ed Gainey was elected Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor last year after defeating incumbent Bill Peduto in the Democratic primary. The victory capped a decade of service for Gainey, a Pittsburgh native who was elected to the 24th District House seat in 2012 – beating his former boss, Joseph Preston Jr., for whom Gainey was a legislative aide. Gainey worked on housing, education and public safety as a member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus and served on the board of the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh.
In his third and final term as Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald is focusing on workforce development, infrastructure, and expanded outreach through the newly renamed Department of Equity and Inclusion. During Fitzgerald’s tenure, the county’s bond rating was upgraded five times to its highest level in four decades. Fitzgerald also oversaw the creation of nearly 2,000 units of affordable housing, championed initiatives around sustainability, reorganized the county’s health department, diversified department hiring and upgraded county technology.
Retired U.S. Army colonel and first-term state Sen. Doug Mastriano rose to prominence espousing far-right views and echoing former President Donald Trump’s false claims about a stolen 2020 election. Mastriano, a staunch supporter of Trump and vehement opponent of Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic restrictions, was elected to the state’s 33rd Senatorial district in 2019. He rallied enough of the state’s Republican base that he dominated the crowded Republican gubernatorial primary to become the GOP nominee going against Attorney General Josh Shapiro in November.
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Two months before the COVID-19 pandemic, Leslie S. Richards joined SEPTA as its CEO and general manager, overseeing a $2 billion operation with 9,500 employees, nearly 300 stations and 2,800 vehicles on 150 routes. Richards has since steered the nation’s sixth-largest public transportation agency through the effects of a citywide shutdown, mandatory masking and rising crime. Richards previously served as the first female secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, where she launched improved sustainability measures as well as the Transportation Investment Plan.
A prodigious fundraiser, Christine Toretti is the Pennsylvania GOP’s longtime national committeewoman and a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee’s finance committee. Toretti, the former chair and CEO of S.W. Jack Drilling Co., also held prominent positions in the administrations of former governors Tom Ridge and Mark Schweiker. She chaired Pennsylvania Women for Trump in 2016 and was nominated by former President Donald Trump as ambassador to Malta. Toretti also founded Women Lead PAC, a Super PAC that supports women candidates for national office.
Lawrence Tabas is well-known as both a prominent election law attorney and as chair of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. Elected to his post in 2019, Tabas has led the GOP to numerous statewide victories, including elections for auditor general, treasurer and the State Supreme Court, as well as the passage of 2021 constitutional amendments ending open-ended emergency powers. Tabas is a partner at the firm of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel, where he chairs its Health Care Law Department and Election Law Practice Group.
Lobbyist Roy Wells heads Triad Strategies, a Harrisburg firm specializing in government relations for corporate, public and nonprofit clients. Before transitioning to the private sector 20 years ago, Wells honed his policy and legislative skills by serving as deputy state treasurer and as a budget analyst for the House Appropriations Committee, where he worked with the Departments of Commerce, Corrections, Probation and Parole, and the state attorney general and auditor general. Wells also managed economic development programs and was the rural policy coordinator for the House majority caucus.
Mary Isenhour, a longtime Democratic operative, is currently a partner with the Rooney Novak Isenhour Group, a Harrisburg strategic consulting firm. Before serving as senior advisor and chief of staff to Gov. Tom Wolf, Isenhour was executive director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and a senior advisor to Gov. Ed Rendell. The first woman to serve on the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, Isenhour played a key role in the passage of a 2016 law modernizing Pennsylvania’s alcohol guidelines.
Nancy Patton Mills is gearing her team up for a historically expensive and contentious Senate race this fall, along with plenty of other high-stakes midterm battles. Before assuming the statewide post in 2018, Mills led the Democratic Committee in her native Allegheny County and previously served as vice-chair of the state party. Mills, a member of the Democratic National Committee and Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Commission for Women, also operates Roselea Farm, a Moon Township bed-and-breakfast.
As head of Stradley Ronon’s government and public affairs practice group, John Saler helps firms navigate legislative and regulatory lobbying as well as crisis management and media strategy. Saler has been called one of the “Top 50 Influential Democrats in Pennsylvania” by Politics Magazine. His colleague, William Sasso, stepped down last year after 27 years chairing Stradley Ronon’s management committee and board of directors, where he managed more than 200 attorneys in seven offices throughout the mid-Atlantic region and Chicago.
Starting as an account executive in 1996, DJ Paoni has built a 26-year career at SAP North America, a branch of the multinational enterprise and database software company. As president since 2018, Paoni heads an operation with more than 70 locations and 22,000 employees, headquartered in Newtown Square. SAP generated nearly $30 billion in revenue globally last year, and the company’s software is used by 99 out of 100 of the largest companies worldwide.
Pennsylvania native Jason Wingard became the first Black president in Temple University’s 138-year history when he assumed the post last summer. In April, Wingard announced a new capital campaign and the development of at least three new buildings on the school’s North Philadelphia campus. Wingard, who holds a doctorate in education from Penn, previously held academic posts at Columbia and Wharton, served as chief learning officer of Goldman Sachs and founded The Education Board, an executive coaching management consultancy.
After a decade at DICK’s Sporting Goods, Lauren Hobart became CEO in 2021 and is modernizing the chain for a more inclusive era. Hobart is investing in new brick-and-mortar locations that are more welcoming to women and people of color, broadening DICK’s clientele beyond its traditional base. Hobart has also overseen the expansion and integration of Dick’s online business, and sales are way up for the second year in a row – $12 billion in 2021, with 26% growth in same-store sales.
House Minority Leader Joanna McClinton, a Democrat who has represented the 191st District in Delaware County and Philadelphia since 2015, is the first person of color and the first woman to lead either caucus in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. McClinton is a former assistant public defender who served as chief counsel to state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams. She helped secure $225 million in American Rescue Plan funds and is the first non-white member of the Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission.
Longtime state Sen. Jay Costa has led the Senate Democrats since 2010, championing legislation in the areas of education, family law, judicial reform, public safety, job creation and health care. Costa represents the 43rd District, which includes parts of Pittsburgh and the surrounding communities. He chairs the Rules and Executive Nominations Committee and co-chairs the General Assembly’s Arts and Culture Caucus, and is also a principal in the Pittsburgh law firm Dickie McCamey & Chilcote P.C.
Throughout the increasingly frenzied real estate market of the past few years, Michael McGee has been a voice for the industry as CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors, which represents 39,000 member colleagues. McGee advocates for legislation that supports fair and affordable housing, strong communities and policies favorable to both buyers and sellers. Before assuming the post in 2017, McGee was executive director of both the Riverfront Alliance of Delaware County and the Pennsylvania Developers’ Council.
A. Michael Pratt, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig’s Philadelphia office, is a commercial litigator and leader in Philadelphia’s legal and civic communities. Pratt specializes in complex liability disputes in state and federal courts, having previously served as chief litigation counsel for corporate and toxic tort matters for a Fortune 100 company. He also served as chief deputy city solicitor overseeing commercial litigation for the City of Philadelphia’s law department. Pratt is currently secretary of Washington & Jefferson College’s board of trustees.
One of Philadelphia’s most well-connected lawyers, Kevin Greenberg is a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig’s Philadelphia office, with influence throughout the Keystone State and beyond. Greenberg, a former government lawyer, chairs Greenberg Traurig’s Pennsylvania government law and policy practice, counseling both public and private companies on state and local regulatory, legal, and policy matters and compliance. Greenberg is also co-general counsel for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and chairs its voter protection steering committee.
Over a 30-year career at Independence Blue Cross, Stephen Fera has led multiple areas of business, advised top government leaders, and championed public-private collaboration. As executive vice president of public affairs, Fera manages programs and partnerships aimed at expanding health care access and equity and improving quality of life. Fera also leads Independence’s $130 million charitable foundation and serves on the boards of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, the Public Affairs Council, the Public Health Management Corporation, and the PA Blockchain Coalition.
Thomas Foley currently leads the Association of Independent Colleges & Universities of Pennsylvania, where he represents nearly 100 colleges. Foley, a first-generation college graduate, previously was president of Mount Aloysius College, where he oversaw a capital transformation of the campus. Foley has also headed the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the statewide United Way, and served as Secretary of Labor and Industry for then-Gov. Bob Casey, helping create a network of 80 job centers across Pennsylvania.
As CEO of Erie Insurance since 2016, Tim NeCastro leads the largest employer and only Fortune 500 company in Erie County. NeCastro is founding board president of the Erie Downtown Development Corporation, and under his leadership, Erie Insurance has committed more than $64 million to downtown revitalization and opportunity zone investments. Erie Insurance has also garnered numerous recent recognitions for consumer satisfaction as well as for inclusion, and NeCastro is an active participant in CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion.
Dennis R. Glass heads Lincoln Financial Group, a company worth nearly $300 billion whose core businesses are annuities, life insurance, and group and retirement plans for 17 million Americans. In 1993, Glass joined the Jefferson Pilot Corporation, which merged with Lincoln in 2006, when he first assumed leadership. Under Glass, Lincoln was named among “America’s Most Responsible Companies 2021” by Newsweek and landed the naming rights to Lincoln Financial Field, home to the Philadelphia Eagles. Glass also co-chairs the board of the Alliance for Lifetime Income.
With construction booming across America, William Sproule has a busy job representing more than 41,000 mid-Atlantic members as executive secretary-treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. Sproule directs the organization’s evolving policies and procedures, managing the process of collective bargaining for the council’s local unions and organizing and expanding job opportunities for union members. Sproule, a Delaware County native, joined the union as an apprentice in 1989 and was named its leader in 2019.
Head of Geisinger since 2018, Jaewon Ryu oversees one of the largest health systems in the state, with more than 550,000 members and nine hospital campuses. Ryu, an emergency physician, joined Geisinger as executive vice president and chief medical officer in 2016. He has restructured the health system’s primary care model, expanded pharmacy operations, and launched both a home health care program and 65 Forward, a collection of Medicare-focused primary care centers.
Mortimer Buckley leads The Vanguard Group, the private investment firm whose assets topped $7 trillion in 2020, making it the second-largest asset manager after BlackRock. Buckley had worked his way through positions of increasing responsibility at Vanguard since the early 1990s, becoming CEO in 2018. He currently chairs the Board of Trustees of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and also serves on the board of the Shipley School.
Frank Stulb is the man behind the firm responsible for the buildings that define Philadelphia’s modern cityscape – including the Barnes Foundation, Penn Medicine’s 1.5-billion-square-foot Pavilion and the Comcast Center. Since 2005, Stulb has led L.F. Driscoll, a 93-year-old building management division of the STO Building Group. Stulb joined L.F. Driscoll in 1984 and manages staffing and administration while shepherding the firm’s major projects through the project management life cycle.
Like most Pennsylvanians, Wawa President Chris Gheysens doesn’t have to go too far to get his coffee fix. The 25-year Wawa veteran has nearly 1,000 east coast retail outlets to choose from at the 58-year-old, privately held convenience-store chain, which boasts 35,000 employees, 750 gas stations and a serious cult following for its coffee and hoagies. Gheysens recently announced an aggressive growth plan that would double Wawa stores by 2030, adding drive-thrus and expanding alcohol sales.
This year, Travis Sheetz took over his family’s eponymous convenience store business from his brother Joseph Sheetz, who is now executive vice chair of the company founded by their uncle, Bob Sheetz. Travis Sheetz will steer the growth of his family’s 70-year-old Altoona-based business, which has more than 600 locations across six states and played a key role in the expansion of Pennsylvania liquor licenses. Sheetz previously served as executive vice president of operations before being promoted to president and chief operating officer in 2018.
Esteban Vera Jr. is a longtime Philadelphia labor organizer and the first Latino to serve on SEPTA’s board of directors. Born in Puerto Rico, Vera is a U.S. Army veteran who joined Laborers Union Local 57 as a construction worker in 2005 and soon became an organizer, fighting for better pay and working conditions. In 2016, he became the first Latino to lead a major Philadelphia-area union, managing 3,000 mostly Black and Hispanic members and championing inclusion and workers’ rights.
After 13 years heading the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, Rob Wonderling will step down this year at a critical juncture for the city’s business scene, as it navigates a post-pandemic recovery amid rising crime. Wonderling, a former Republican state senator, has championed biomedical technologies, a neighborhoods growth initiative and the Chamber’s public-private partnership supporting pandemic-sidelined workers. He also chairs the CEO Council for Growth, which works on federal advocacy, and oversees the Select Greater Philadelphia Council, the Chamber’s economic development marketing arm.
Every Philadelphian knows Citizens Bank, the name on the Phillies stadium. The man behind the marquee is Bruce Van Saun, who, as chair and CEO, has shepherded Citizens from a Rhode Island-based bank into a financial giant throughout the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. Van Saun joined Citizens Financial Group in 2009 after senior posts with Bank of New York. He is currently a director of Moody’s Corporation, sits on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and is a board member for the Bank Policy Institute.
In 2021, Nicholas Bertram was inducted into the Food Industry Hall of Fame and honored with the Food Industry Trailblazer Award by the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association. Bertram has served since 2017 as president of The GIANT Company, a 99-year-old grocer with locations across the mid-Atlantic region. The retail veteran also chairs the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and co-chairs the corporate council as a member of the Foundation Board of Overseers for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
As president of the Philadelphia City Council for a decade, Democrat Darrell Clarke has powerful influence over city affairs. After getting his start as a community organizer, Clarke has represented the 5th councilmanic district of North Central Philadelphia since 1999, advocating for affordable housing, public safety, education and other progressive priorities. Under Clarke’s leadership, the city increased local subsidies for the chronically underfunded School District of Philadelphia by 62%, and for the parks department by 45%.
Across Philadelphia, ShopRite and Fresh Grocer stores are neighborhood institutions thanks to Jeff Brown. Brown, a fourth-generation grocer, founded and now operates a 12-supermarket outfit that was lauded by former President Barack Obama as a major investment in “food deserts” – as well as engaging with communities through workforce training initiatives. Brown is an officer of Wakefern Food Corp., chairs the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board, is board treasurer of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity and co-founded the Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund, which provides forgivable loans to small businesses.
Since founding Brandywine Realty Trust in 1994, CEO Gerard Sweeney has grown the REIT to over 24 million square feet and a market capitalization of $5 billion. Under Sweeney’s leadership, Brandywine has reshaped skylines and communities through strategic investments and partnerships – mostly in the Mid-Atlantic – and innovations like its BEX co-working spaces. Sweeney currently chairs the boards of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation, the Center City District Foundation, the King of Prussia Rail Coalition Advisory and PhilaPort.
Patrick Gallagher has led the University of Pittsburgh, his alma mater, since 2014 and has announced he will step down next year. Gallagher reinforced the university’s position as a research powerhouse, and under his tenure, Pitt was named one of the nation’s top public schools by U.S. News & World Report. Gallagher currently chairs the Association of American Universities board of directors, and is a member of the Cybersecurity Advisory Committee for the National Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Widely recognized as an architect of Republican success in Harrisburg, Mike Long is a founding partner in the lobbying firm Long Nyquist & Associates. Long and the firm’s other partner, Todd Nyquist, were formerly staffers in the state Senate and have extensive relationships throughout the state capital, especially with the Senate Republican Caucus. Long’s influence on policy is considerable, as is his firm’s client list, which counts major corporations and institutions throughout Pennsylvania.
From Pope Francis’ 2015 Philadelphia visit to the Super Bowl halftime show, Meek Mill’s Grammy nomination and Philadelphia’s Fourth of July festivities, Scott Mirkin has been involved in many of the past decade’s talked-about broadcasts. Mirkin, a 30-year media veteran, heads ESM Productions, which produces and facilitates the distribution of major broadcasts, including political happenings, sports and cultural events. Mirkin also serves on the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s executive committee.
As the executive director of Teach PA since 2017, Arielle Frankston-Morris represents Jewish Day Schools across Pennsylvania and has advocated for bolstering state tax credit programs that fund scholarships to help students attend non-public schools in the state. In addition to organizing lobbying efforts on the need for educational tax credit programs, Frankston-Morris has also been an avid supporter of efforts to improve school security, as well as increased funding for school health services.
Glenn Todd literally wrote the book on Pennsylvania taxes. A co-author of the Pennsylvania State Tax Handbook, Todd, who holds degrees in accounting and law, amassed his knowledge over a quarter-century with KPMG, the global accounting firm, and is currently a Pittsburgh-based principal with KPMG’s State and Local Tax Practice for Power and Utilities. Todd leads the firm’s national tax industry work on power and utilities, state and local tax work in the Pennsylvania Business Unit, and oversees the Pittsburgh office’s markets work.
Chris Stief is managing partner of the Philadelphia office of Fisher Phillips, a major national law firm that specializes in labor and employment law. At Fisher Phillips, Stief co-founded the firm’s Employee Defection and Trade Secrets Practice Group and is a core member of the International Employment Practice Group and Financial Services Industry Group. Stief represents and advises employers nationally and globally in labor and employment matters, with a particular focus on restrictive covenant issues for companies with multi-state or multinational workforces.
Benefits specialist Mona Ghude is a longtime partner at the law firm of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath, and a vice-chair of its Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice group. She helps corporate and private employers navigate the complex world of benefit plans for an increasingly diverse workforce. Ghude’s expertise includes pension, equity, deferred compensation and welfare plans, as well as the employee benefit aspects of corporate transactions. The Philadelphia Inquirer named Ghude an “Influencer of Law” in 2019.
When Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health needed an interim leader during a time of expansion and transition, they turned to Richard Haverstick. Haverstick, an emeritus trustee and the immediate past chair of the board of trustees of both institutions, was a key player in Jefferson’s Strategic Blueprint for Action. Legendary for his four-decade career at Ernst & Young, Haverstick has deep institutional knowledge of Philadelphia’s business, education and nonprofit institutions.
Yuengling is synonymous with Pennsylvania beer – and fifth-generation brewery owner Richard Yuengling aims to keep it that way, employing all four of his daughters in the family business. Since taking over 30 years ago, Yuengling has expanded operations across 22 states and opened the Yuengling dairy plant. In 2020, Yuengling spearheaded The Yuengling Company, a joint venture with the Molson Coors beverage company that will manage future market expansion. Yuengling is a member of the Pottsville Chamber of Commerce and the Pennsylvania Brewers Association.
As president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, Matt Smith champions economic development through infrastructure investment, lowering the state’s net corporate tax rate, and supporting the region’s autonomous vehicle industry, among other priorities. Smith assumed the role in 2015 after serving as both a state senator and a state representative. He is a longtime board member of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
Tom Reilly, an executive vice president at Turner Construction, leads the company’s activities in the mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Ohio regions, as well as Turner’s Federal Services group. Since joining Turner Construction in 1987 as a field engineer in the New Jersey office, Reilly has held numerous positions, including as vice president and operations manager of Turner’s Government Services group and as vice president and general manager of the company’s mid-Atlantic region.
Law enforcement veteran Les Neri has served as national 2nd vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police since 2015, as well as president of the Pennsylvania State Lodge since 2008. The native Philadelphian first got involved with his local FOP Lodge 30 years ago and quickly earned a reputation as an effective ally helping colleagues with collective bargaining and other issues. Neri has secured numerous benefits for his members, including pensions, children’s college tuition and retroactive survivors’ benefits.
David Cohen was tapped by President Joe Biden this year to be the U.S. ambassador to Canada, but wherever he goes, Cohen will always be a passionate ambassador for Philadelphia. Before leaving for Ottawa, Cohen wielded outsize influence at Philadelphia’s most influential nonprofit and corporate entities – as the longtime chair of Penn’s board of trustees and as a senior adviser to the CEO at Comcast, where he was previously executive vice president. Cohen also served as then-Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell’s chief of staff.
After two decades at TD Bank, this year, Geoffrey Brandon moved up to Pennsylvania commercial market president for the American subsidiary of the Canadian multinational. In this role, Brandon leads TD’s King of Prussia-based commercial banking team, tasked with expanding its lending portfolios in partnership with small-to-midsize businesses throughout the Delaware Valley. Brandon, who was previously TD’s regional vice president for suburban Pennsylvania, serves on the board of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce and the president’s council of the National Constitution Center.
As head of 84 Lumber, the family business, since 1992, Maggie Hardy Knox has led the nation’s largest privately held building material supplier to record sales – $4.7 billion in 2020, up from $3.8 billion the previous year. Knox has managed the openings of new locations around the country, bringing 84 Lumber’s total to more than 400 retail outlets, and incorporated technology into the firm’s growth strategy. Knox also directs the family’s AAA Four Diamond-rated Nemacolin Woodlands Resort and is a prominent donor to Republican politicians.
Keith Leaphart chairs the Lenfest Foundation, which funds myriad educational and career initiatives for disadvantaged Philadelphia youth. His passion led him to found Philanthropi, a digital platform designed to engage charitable givers, and he also heads the design firm Replica Creative. Leaphart, a physician, serves on the boards of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation, the Philadelphia Media Network and Comcast Corporation’s external Joint Diversity Advisory Council.
John Elicker is managing director for the Philadelphia Life Sciences practice at Accenture, the global consulting firm. He consults on research and development in the biopharmaceutical sector. Prior to assuming this role last year, Elicker, who started his career as a research associate at the University of Pennsylvania, served for a decade as strategy and consulting senior manager at Accenture.
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