Continued transitioning of programs and services online. Rapid pivots to confront the continued health threats posed by COVID-19, the new health threats posed by monkeypox and the expected flu resurgence. Finding more effective ways to provide shelter during a superheated housing market. Untameable inflation. These are just some of the challenges to which nonprofits have had to adapt, improvise and overcome over the past year to be able to effectively serve their clients and communities.
The organizations featured in our 2022 Nonprofit Power 100 have triumphed in their efforts to provide everything from cash assistance to legal representation, food deliveries to waterways protection despite the constraint on fundraisers, reduced government funding and declining philanthropic support. City & State is proud to present this year’s list of movers and shakers within the nonprofit community. The following profiles were researched and written by City & State staff and freelance writer Hilary Danailova.
Whether in the flesh or by more spiritual means, Bill Golderer devotes his life to fighting hunger and poverty. Golderer coordinates a team of 100,000 donors, advocates and volunteers at the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, where he is CEO. He was previously senior pastor at Arch Street Presbyterian Church and the founder of Broad Street Ministry, a nonprofit that provides a range of social services to Philadelphia’s disadvantaged residents, including meals through the Rooster Soup Company, which he also co-founded.
Culture and nature thrive across the Delaware Valley thanks to Shawn McCaney and the grant-making organization he leads, the William Penn Foundation. McCaney heads the region’s largest private funder, allotting $150 million annually in grants for arts, educational and environmental causes. Most recently, he organized $65 million in pandemic relief for vulnerable programs. McCaney, who has a background in community planning and infrastructure projects, previously established the Foundation’s public spaces program, which counts nearly $1 billion of investment in parks, trails, community centers and libraries.
The Philadelphia Foundation, a regional philanthropic powerhouse, charts its second century under the strategic guidance of attorney and civic leader Pedro Ramos. Ramos’ tenure has seen the Foundation raise over $500 million, more than double its assets and launch large-scale social and cultural initiatives including the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, the PHL COVID-19 Fund and the PhilaImpact Fund collaboration. Ramos previously served as managing director and city solicitor for the City of Philadelphia and chief of staff to former University of Pennsylvania president Judith Rodin.
Charitable giving expert Eileen R. Heisman leads the National Philanthropic Trust, America’s largest national independent provider of donor-advised funds. Under her directorship, the Trust granted $5.5 billion on behalf of its donors in 2022, three times the amount in 2019. Heisman also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, where she serves on the governance committee for the Nonprofit Leadership Program, and is a faculty member at LEADERSHIP Philadelphia, a nonprofit that connects private-sector talent with community work.
Over the next 10 years, Sam Reiman will oversee $1.2 billion of investment on behalf of the Richard King Mellon foundation, of which he is director. Reiman – also a trustee of the private, Pittsburgh-based philanthropy – is tasked with implementing its 10-year strategic plan to improve economic development, conservation, health and quality of life across southwestern Pennsylvania and beyond. Reiman has led grants and investments since 2014 at the Foundation, which has an annual budget of about $130 million.
Heather Templeton Dill presides over the philanthropic organization founded by her grandfather, Sir John Templeton, an investor whose expansive intellectual vision animates a prestigious grantmaking program. Since becoming president in 2015, Dill and the Foundation have awarded 1,300 research grants and donations worth nearly $900 million, including the annual Templeton Prize, which last year went to Dr. Jane Goodall. Dill, who has held a number of leadership roles at the Foundation, is overseeing an expansion of annual grantmaking to $350 million.
In 2019, Lisa Schroeder became the first woman to helm the 75-year-old Pittsburgh Foundation. She oversees $1.5 billion in total assets and 2,500 individual charitable funds, all dedicated to connecting donors with causes to improve the quality of life across the Allegheny region. Having raised millions for COVID-19 relief and organizations devoted to racial justice, Schroeder incorporated these contemporary priorities into the Foundation’s current strategic plan. Previously, she masterminded a 15-mile trail and park system as director of Riverlife, a Pittsburgh public-private partnership.
Nonprofits look after the rest of us, but who looks after the nonprofits? In Pennsylvania, one answer is Anne Gingerich and the group she heads, the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations. Gingerich, a social worker, leads advocacy on behalf of the sector and oversees a comprehensive support network for established and aspiring nonprofits that includes training, conferences and consulting on the nuts and bolts of running a nonprofit. Recently, Gingerich has added PANO resources specific to the COVID-19 pandemic and racial justice.
Donna Frisby-Greenwood comes to the Pew Charitable Trusts from the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, where she raised $41 million in grants and funding as its inaugural CEO. As of this month, Frisby-Greenwood leads PCT's grantmaking and programmatic work across the Philadelphia region, leveraging her fundraising skills along with her deep Philadelphia connections to generate support for vulnerable populations, cultural life and civic projects. Frisby-Greenwood was previously Philadelphia program director for the Knight Foundation, administering a $32 million arts fund.
The commonwealth’s nearly 2 million seniors have a champion in Bill Johnston-Walsh, the state director of AARP Pennsylvania. Johnston-Walsh, who served as deputy secretary in the State Department of Aging under Gov. Ed Rendell, has worked for AARP since 2000, most recently as a Harrisburg-based national legislative representative. He has lobbied on behalf of 50+ Pennsylvanians for assistance with property taxes, home care access, housing, and – in partnership with U.S. Sen. Bob Casey this year – legislation that would lower Medicare drug prices.
After a career threaded with Jewish nonprofit leadership and stints in the Delaware Valley, Michael Balaban returned to Philadelphia last year to lead the area’s Jewish Federation. Balaban, a fundraising expert, is tasked with facilitating a return to vibrant Jewish life as community institutions – a rich network of schools, synagogues, and social and educational programs – cope with the lingering effects of the pandemic. Balaban previously headed the Jewish Federation of Broward County, Florida and has worked in development for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and Penn Medicine.
At The Heinz Endowments, Carmen Anderson guides initiatives around social justice and equity in communities served by the Pittsburgh philanthropy, which awards $70 million in annual grants across Southwestern Pennsylvania. Anderson, who joined the Endowments in 2000, previously led its African American Men and Boys Initiative and currently manages funding for educational and family programs. Previously, Anderson oversaw a 50% reduction in the region’s infant mortality rates as executive director of Healthy Start, a federal public health initiative.
As president and CEO of the Forbes Funds, Fred Brown guides a 40-year-old Pittsburgh organization devoted to supporting 500-plus human service and community-based nonprofits. Brown joined the Funds in 2018, leading its COVID-19 response – involving nearly 35,000 Zoom sessions – and emphasizing equity and sustainability as the region recovers from pandemic challenges. Prior to his current role, Brown headed the Homewood Children’s Village, a Pittsburgh youth services organization, and served as a minority male mentor at South Piedmont Community College in North Carolina.
As head of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence – the nation's oldest statewide organization of its kind – Susan Higginbotham manages 59 local affiliates serving 90,000 victims and survivors annually. She also oversees advocacy at the state and federal levels, lobbying for preventive measures, survivors' services, affordable housing access and an equitable justice system. Higginbotham previously directed the Philadelphia Society of Family Planning and Planned Parenthood of Chester County and is currently treasurer of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
Adam Garber knows the fight against gun violence has never been more urgent. Since assuming leadership of CeaseFirePA in 2020, Garber has helped secure $170 million to fund community violence-prevention programs and pass bipartisan anti-violence legislation such as the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act. He also spearheaded CeaseFirePA’s collaboration with 130-plus member-activists, including veterans, physicians, clergy and violence survivors. Garber’s safety credentials were burnished in his prior roles as consumer watchdog for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and deputy director for PennEnvironment.
After earning a reputation for her work in public interest law in South Florida, Jayme Cassidy arrived in Harrisburg this year to head the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network. Cassidy, who most recently led DEI and pro bono advocacy at Legal Services of Greater Miami, previously worked at Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida and was chief assistant to the Broward County public defender. At PLAN, she oversees a network of nine regional programs that handle around 100,000 cases annually throughout the commonwealth.
Najja Orr wrote his doctoral dissertation on how organizations validate their impact on the populations they serve. In his case, it's not theoretical: Orr, who received a doctorate in business administration from Temple University this year, aims for a positive impact as head of the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging, which advocates and provides myriad services for older adults, from senior centers and meals to home services and caregiver support. Orr previously spent 15 years in various positions at the Bucks County Area Agency on Aging.
Twelve thousand low-income Philadelphians count on Debby Freedman and her team at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia for legal assistance in a variety of matters, from housing and employment to public benefits, family issues and disability advocacy. Freedman is known for her fundraising and organizational prowess; at CLS, she has masterminded significant growth and technological modernization at what is now the largest public interest law firm in Pennsylvania. Freedman also teaches social justice law at Penn's Carey Law School.
As the commonwealth population ages, Rebecca May-Cole helps geriatric agencies strategize to accommodate this constituency. Since taking over leadership of the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging in 2015, May-Cole has developed and implemented a statewide plan that balances advocacy, quality and growth, allowing agencies to retain essential services for seniors and people with disabilities. May-Cole, a 20-year veteran of nonprofits, previously worked at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Appropriations Committee and the State Department of Health.
With voting, reproductive, LGBTQ and other rights under attack from some quarters, ACLU of Pennsylvania Director Reggie Shuford is busy organizing advocacy campaigns. Shuford, who was named the Most Influential African American Leader by the Philadelphia Tribune in 2020-21, assumed his current position in 2011 to advance the organization’s mission around social and economic justice and civil rights. He previously served as senior staff counsel for the national ACLU's Racial Justice Program and has served as diversity chair for the Philadelphia Bar Association.
In early 2020, Joe Brooks assumed leadership of the Veterans Multi-Service Center, a Philadelphia-based organization that provides resources and services to veterans and their families throughout the Delaware Valley and beyond. When the pandemic hit, Brooks coordinated vital services for vulnerable veterans; in the two years since, he has increased revenue by more than 25% and opened three new offices to meet the growing need. Brooks previously served as CEO for the USO of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, where he grew the organization’s income by 114%.
Five million people live within a few miles of preserves overseen by Natural Lands, a 70-year-old Media-based organization headed by Oliver Bass. Bass has been with Natural Lands since the 1990s, devoting his career to the unspoiled landscape of eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. As CEO since 2019, Bass has refined the organization’s lineup of activities – not only trails, but also tai chi and gardening – and strengthened its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and access, emphasizing preservation’s role in combating climate change.
Conservation is Tom Saunders’ top priority as head of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy. The Pittsburgh-based organization raises funds and leads advocacy to restore and protect open space, waterways and endangered species. Saunders also leads conservation for one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous works, Fallingwater. A land use attorney, Saunders previously practiced at Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue in Washington and has also directed the Maryland Environmental Trust. He currently serves on the boards of the Land Trust Alliance and WeConservePA.
Frances Sheehan is the first president of The Foundation for Delaware County, a community organization that invests in area nonprofits to support programs addressing housing, food access, racial inequity, public health and other social priorities. Prior to this role, Sheehan spent 15 years overseeing the Brandywine Health Foundation as its founding president and CEO, and previously headed Planned Parenthood of Chester County. Sheehan is currently board treasurer of the Delaware County Estate Planning Council and of Children First (formerly Public Citizens for Children and Youth).
Through a host of pandemic-related challenges, Federation President Jeffrey Finkelstein has been a relentless cheerleader for Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. He recently announced that Federation’s 2022 campaign, the largest in its history, has so far yielded $14 million. Under Finkelstein’s leadership, that funding supports not only robust community programming and a new cemetery maintenance endowment, but also proactive initiatives around issues including rising antisemitism, the Ukraine war, Israeli-American relations – and, not least, enhanced security for a community shaken by the 2018 synagogue shooting.
Sara Jacobson directs training at the Public Defender Association of Pennsylvania, coordinating with Penn State's Dickinson School of Law to ensure that commonwealth attorneys advocate as effectively as possible for their low-income clients. In 2020, with demand for resources on the rise, Jacobson became the first full-time employee in the Association’s half-century history. Jacobson, a veteran of the Berks County Public Defender's Office, also previously served as director of trial advocacy at her alma mater, Temple University's Beasley School of Law.
In the decade she has headed Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia, Paula Goldstein has grown the organization’s budget from $10 million to $17 million, enabling an expansion of services that responds to changing needs. These include employment, basic needs and wellness programs tailored to people with disabilities, older adults and Holocaust survivors, families and children and LGBTQ-identified people. Goldstein, a social worker, is a board member of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies and a member of the Forum for Executive Women.
When she was appointed CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition in 1999, Sharmain Matlock-Turner was the first woman to lead the Philadelphia organization in its then-30-year history. Matlock-Turner manages 500 employees in a coalition that supports 80 nonprofit entities, forging partnerships with government, businesses and neighborhood groups to improve education and job access, reduce poverty and sustain the grassroots organizations that do this work. Under Matlock-Turner’s direction, the Coalition has managed more than $1 billion in public and private funds.
Loree Jones became CEO of Philabundance in 2020 and has led its expansion of food distribution in response to surging hunger across the Delaware Valley during the pandemic. Jones heads the Philadelphia organization’s local operations as well as virtual food drives, a charity-powered catering program, and a community kitchen, distributing 52 million pounds of food last year and reaching 135,000 people each week. Jones previously held leadership roles at Rutgers University and the School District of Philadelphia.
Over 22 years at the helm, Jordan Golin has steered Jewish Family and Community Services of Pittsburgh through years of growth and challenges. Golin, a psychologist, oversees a $10 million annual budget and has spearheaded numerous programs that address contemporary priorities; these include career training, food distribution, immigrant resettlement, legal assistance, senior services and mental health initiatives. Most recently, in response to COVID-19, Golin launched a dozen virtual community support groups and a therapy program for adolescents.
Philadelphia’s Hispanic population has grown by about 30% over the past decade – and at El Concilio, Director Adonis Banegas heads an organization with Puerto Rican roots and a mission to expand opportunities. He oversees Latino advocacy as well as programs that promote an upwardly mobile community: family and parenting services, child care, educational resources, victim advocacy and job training. Banegas, a Philly native, was previously a program director at the Hispanic Family Center and currently serves on the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Cares Community Fund.
Philanthropist Keith Leaphart wasn’t content simply to donate. Instead, the physician and entrepreneur – who leads Replica Creative, a Philadelphia design firm – founded the digital platform Philanthropi to engage other charitable givers. Leaphart also chairs the Lenfest Foundation, which funds programs for vulnerable young Philadelphians, and 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.
Three years ago, Sherri Landis took over leadership of the Arc of Pennsylvania, where she oversees 33 commonwealth chapters affiliated with America’s largest disability rights organization. Under Landis’s oversight, the Arc assists intellectually and physically disabled Pennsylvanians with a range of human services as well as advocating for policy on their behalf. Landis, a veteran of nonprofits and government affairs, most recently served as the first director at the D.R.E.A.M. Partnership, an organization that promotes post-secondary education for people with intellectual disabilities.
Over 30 years in Western Pennsylvania’s nonprofit sector, Bobbi Watt Geer has held several leadership positions with the United Way – including, currently, CEO of United Way of Southwestern PA in Pittsburgh. Watt Geer was previously a senior vice president there, as well as CEO of United Way of Westmoreland County and president of The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. Watt Geer has also served as chair of the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership Advisory Team and as an officer of Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania.
Attorney Cathryn Miller-Wilson assumed leadership of HIAS Pennsylvania, the Jewish-founded immigration advocacy organization, in November 2016 – just as then-President Donald Trump took office amid rising anti-illegal immigration rhetoric. Miller-Wilson led HIAS’ fight against the new administration's so-called Muslim ban and, more recently, coordinated welcomes for Afghan refugees resettled after the U.S. military pullout. Amid a 50% rise in new clients, Miller-Wilson has stepped up fundraising efforts. Last year, HIAS PA served more than 4,000 people – including Ukrainians fleeing war – from 127 countries.
Carolina DiGiorgio is CEO of Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a 25-year-old Philadelphia nonprofit that coordinates a range of social services for the Latino community, including education and parenting programs, housing and health services, and workforce development. For her leadership of the $24 million organization, DiGiorgio has been named a Hispanic Heritage Honoree by Al Día and a Most Admired CEO by the Philadelphia Business Journal. A one-time attorney with Stradley Ronon, DiGiorgio serves on the board of the IBC Foundation, Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity and the Nelson Foundation.
With abortion rights arguably in jeopardy, Melissa Reed has a lot on her plate at Planned Parenthood Keystone. In six years as CEO, Reed has expanded abortion access across Pennsylvania, launched gender-affirming hormone therapy, expanded sex education and concluded a multimillion-dollar capital campaign that built two new clinics, bringing PP care to 37 counties. With a $10.5 million budget, Reed continues the advocacy she previously conducted as the director of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic and, prior to that, of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina.
Joseph O’Connor, Jr. and Diane Collins jointly oversee the Philadelphia-based E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, established in 1975 with the fortune amassed by E. Rhodes Carpenter, who founded a Richmond-based cushion company. O'Connor and Collins supervise grants to public charities that were important to the Carpenters or are connected with their priorities – the performing arts, Asian art, LGBTQ affairs, theological education and community health nursing. Under the co-directors’ stewardship, the Carpenter Foundation has made grants totaling nearly $60 million to 500+ organizations.
Philadelphia’s scrappy tech scene owes a huge debt to Christopher Wink. Nearly a decade ago, Wink co-founded Technically, a $2 million digital media company that publishes Technical.ly, a forum for tech business news, as well as the nonprofit news site Generocity.org. Wink also founded Philly Tech Week, a must-attend annual event for the city’s IT community. A onetime reporter, Wink previously worked for a homeless advocacy nonprofit and currently serves on the board of Philadelphia’s project-based Workshop School.
In the three years since George Matysik assumed leadership of the Share Food Program, he has expanded the hunger relief organization’s activity by nearly five-fold. Matysik responded to skyrocketing food insecurity across Southeastern Pennsylvania by recruiting staff, acquiring a fleet of vehicles and growing the program’s emergency food distribution. Matysik, who worked his way through Penn as a janitor, currently serves as the elected ward chair for Philadelphia’s 38th Democratic ward.
Tens of thousands of Philadelphians have finished their post-secondary degrees thanks to Malik Brown and Graduate! Philadelphia. Brown leads an organization devoted to coaching adults through the completion of their unfinished college degrees, facilitating their incorporation into the workforce and reinforcing community norms around education and professionalism. Brown, who was previously the associate vice president of workforce solutions and community impact for Peirce College, serves on the board of directors of Neumann University, the Economy League, Girard College and City Year.
For nearly eight years, Jane Clements has shored up the Keystone State’s food supply as head of Feeding Pennsylvania, which supports nine member food banks and partners with 2,700 local partner agencies to serve 2 million hungry Pennsylvanians annually. Her tenure has also seen the launch of a produce cooperative that distributes 90 million pounds of food each year. Clements, who chairs the state's Emergency Food Assistance Advisory Council, recently partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Health on an agricultural and nutrition education curriculum.
Demand for social services has surged throughout the pandemic – and in the Pennsylvania Senate, Republican Sen. Michele Brooks and Democratic Sen. Art Haywood help guide state policy that responds to those needs as the chair and minority chair, respectively, of the Senate's Human Services Committee.
Brooks, a former state representative, is known for marshaling resources for seniors as well as recreational opportunities, including the revival of the McKeever Environmental Learning Center and Tuttle Point Campground in her Northwest Pennsylvania District. Haywood, a familiar Facebook Live presence for his Northwest Philadelphia and Montgomery County constituents, has championed DEI initiatives as well as legislation to test for lead in public school water, house domestic violence survivors and fund violence intervention.
From mental health to safe communities, Reps. Frank Farry and Angel Cruz understand the everyday needs of their constituents. Farry, a Bucks County Republican, and Cruz, a Democrat from Philadelphia, are their parties’ respective chairs of the State House Human Services Committee.
A three-decade volunteer firefighter and current fire chief, Farry also chairs the Senate Fire and Emergency Services Caucus. He has authored legislation to address the needs of first responders and people with addiction or mental health concerns, ensure school safety and improve the state prescription drug program for low-income seniors.
Amid rising crime, Cruz has prioritized additional funding for school security and is championing legislation for statewide gun buyback and monitoring school bus safety. At the pandemic outset, Cruz prioritized expanded SNAP food subsidies for low-income Pennsylvanians; more recently, he is vocal about abortion rights.
After a decade working in the Denver nonprofit sector, Meg Snead went to Harrisburg in 2015 and has been a fixture in state government ever since. Currently acting secretary of human services, Snead began as a policy specialist in that department, focusing on Medicaid, mental health and substance use. She logged five years working in policy and planning in the office of Gov. Tom Wolf, where she led strategy around the state's COVID-19 pandemic response and health care access.
As the Mazzoni Center’s first permanent leader in three years, Sultan Shakir is tasked with stabilizing the $14 million organization, the region’s largest LGBTQ health and wellness agency. Shakir, a Philly native, brings the relationship skills he honed as a longtime community organizer to Mazzoni, a resource for 7,000 people each year. Shakir previously led SMYAL, a housing and service nonprofit for LGBTQ youth in Washington, D.C., where he grew the organization’s budget, staff and services.
Stefani Pashman brings a wealth of civic knowledge to her role heading the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, one of the United States’ foremost public leadership organizations, where she is currently guiding a 10-year strategic plan for regional development. Pashman has served as director of policy for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services and as an analyst in the White House Office of Management and Budget. Most recently, she was CEO of Partner4Work, a Pittsburgh nonprofit workforce development organization.
Meghan Pierce took over the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania at an incredibly challenging electoral moment – October 2020 – and in an increasingly important swing state. Pierce shepherded commonwealth voters through the controversial aftermath of that election, and she’s prepared to do so again as voters nationwide eye the state’s high-profile midterms. Having worked at the New York City mayor's office, the Women's Law Project of Pennsylvania and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, Pierce is doubtless ready for this November.
Former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt took the helm of the Committee of Seventy this year – just in time to bring his municipal election expertise to the city’s high-profile midterms. At the Committee, Schmidt oversees a nonpartisan organization that promotes democracy and good government. He previously served as vice chair of the city Board of Elections, where he worked to modernize the voting system, make elections more efficient and allow the public better access to election data.
By integrating new Americans into our workforce – the mission of The Welcoming Center, a Philadelphia nonprofit – Peter Gonzales believes we can promote overall economic growth. Gonzales has headed the Center since 2012, overseeing job training, workforce development and immigrant orientation programs. His previous experience includes managing an immigration law practice and serving on the transition teams of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Gov. Tom Wolf. Gonzales is on the board of Philadelphia Works, Inc. and the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia.
The 2020 election controversies shone a spotlight on state secretaries of state, whose responsibility it is to uphold standards around elections and campaign finance. In Pennsylvania, this role is now held by Leigh Chapman, who was appointed acting secretary earlier this year. Chapman previously worked for a series of election-focused nonprofits, including as director of Deliver My Vote, an organization that supports accessible voting. She helped to implement electronic voter registration as policy director at the Department of State from 2015 to 2017.
Kristen Rotz oversees the United Way of Pennsylvania, which raises more than $160 million annually for human services. In addition to leading the statewide organization and guiding its political advocacy, Rotz also directs the subsidiary nonprofit PA 211, an urgent assistance program for everyday resources that she scaled statewide. Rotz, who grew up on a Pennsylvania family farm, previously worked at the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau and the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania.
From subsidized preschool to verdant parks, much of what people love about Philadelphia is in the capable hands of Vanessa Garrett Harley. As deputy mayor for the Office of Children and Families, Harley oversees the city’s human services, parks and recreation, the Free Library system and education services like the city’s free pre-K. Harley’s previous public roles include acting managing director for the City of Philadelphia, as well as commissioner of the Department of Human Services, the commonwealth’s largest child welfare agency.
After 90 years of serving Philadelphians with a range of community resources, Caring People Alliance flourishes under the leadership of Jerry Macdonald. As president, Macdonald – a 21-year CPA veteran in various roles – has expanded the social justice scope of an organization that serves 30,000 children, families and older adults across the region, including providing more than 115,000 meals annually. Thanks to Macdonald, CPA now coordinates 300 employees and programs ranging from day care, Boys & Girls Clubs, and senior activities to Philadelphia’s early learning resource centers.
Lisa Tordo knows that whatever your income, a new coat or set of sheets can bring comfort and joy. At the National Giving Alliance, a Bucks County organization founded in 1885, Tordo coordinates with NGA’s 25 branches to distribute clothes, bedding and other household basics to homeless and low-income people. Since taking over as director, she has expanded and diversified funding sources, coordinating with a team of volunteers and partnering with community organizations. Tordo previously directed communications for the Terri Lynne Lockoff Child Care Foundation.
As food insecurity rises along with inflation, Joe Arthur makes sure the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is there to feed the hungry. The executive director also leads increasingly vital advocacy in Harrisburg and beyond – engaging legislators, community groups, state agencies and philanthropists to drum up support as demand spreads. Arthur, who previously worked in finance and accounting with community banks, is currently a national council representative at Feeding America and a member of Feeding Pennsylvania and Hunger-Free Pennsylvania.
Longtime mentor Jenn Beer cultivates the next generations of Allegheny movers and shakers as head of Leadership Pittsburgh. She coordinates the organization’s signature multi-month training programs for civic leaders, recruiting promising veterans, recent graduates and mid-career professionals for skills building and networking. Beer, who previously spent 15 years at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, also mentors local women in the region through PA Women Work’s “Three Cups of Coffee” program and serves on the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission.
Who will lead Philadelphia’s civic organizations a generation from now? Robert Davis hopes to provide some of the top candidates, having recently been appointed executive director of the Germination Project, a talent incubator that recruits area 10th graders for annual fellowships. Davis is tasked with cultivating a leadership ecosystem one fellowship cohort at a time, overseeing a summer boot camp and immersion in Philadelphia’s key institutions and social issues, from literacy to health care access.
Kris Bergstrom is the first woman to lead Neighborhood Legal Services Association, a 56-year-old public interest firm providing legal assistance to disadvantaged Western Pennsylvanians. Bergstrom heads a team notable for its longevity – NLS employees average more than 25 years, and Bergstrom is only the fifth director for an outfit that has assisted more than 1.1 million clients. She previously practiced elder and consumer law at NLS’ Pittsburgh office and was the directing attorney for the Las Vegas branch of Nevada Legal Services.
At Teach PA, Arielle Frankston-Morris advocates for funding and resources on behalf of the commonwealth’s Jewish and other non-public schools. Frankston-Morris leads the Pennsylvania chapter of the Teach Coalition, a national grassroots project of the New York-based Orthodox Union. She guides a lobbying program in Harrisburg that has resulted in scholarships for more than half of commonwealth Jewish school students through the state’s tax credit program. Frankston-Morris has also fought to secure millions in new security funding at a time when Jewish institutions face rising violence.
In the two years since Jill Bowen took over Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, pandemic-related challenges have prompted her to refocus on vulnerable populations and collaborate with public and private stakeholders to more effectively address complex issues, from mental health to logistics. Bowen, a clinical psychologist by training, previously was senior advisor for mental health initiatives for the New York City mayor's office and held numerous leadership positions with NYC Health + Hospitals. She is also the co-author of “Lean Behavioral Health.”
Markita Morris-Louis runs a nonprofit financial services organization with a mission: to help low-income women and families escape poverty and find opportunity through building assets and financial literacy. Morris-Louis guides anti-poverty policy advocacy at the firm, which is co-headquartered in Philadelphia and spearheads partnerships with public and private stakeholders on behalf of Compass clients. She also chairs the Affordable Housing Advisory Council of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh and serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
Health care operations may be her day job, but Kimeka Campbell’s mission is clearly elevating Black voices in Pennsylvania’s capital. Campbell, who holds a doctorate in adult education from Penn State, co-founded Young Professionals of Color - Greater Harrisburg in 2017 with her husband, Basir Vincent, aiming to empower the community through leadership workshops, networking events and social service projects. Campbell, a well-known social activist, also hosts “Black NewsBeat,” a twice-monthly live talk show exploring the Black cultures and communities of Harrisburg.
Preston Heldibridle is the first transgender person to lead the commonwealth’s first and only statewide LGBTQ youth advocacy organization. Heldibridle has been involved with PYC since he graduated from high school in 2017; as state policy director, he helped defeat a bill rolling back trans health coverage for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Now a Harrisburg Area Community College student, Heldibridle has played a key role in PCY’s conferences and activism, coalition-building with GSAs statewide and visible presence in the capital.
Social worker Daniel Alvalle leads CASA and its affiliated organization, CASA in Action, which together constitute the mid-Atlantic’s largest Latino and immigrant organization. Alvalle, whose parents emigrated from Panama and Puerto Rico, leads social and economic advocacy on behalf of CASA’s 122,000 members. Having previously held a number of social work positions, he is currently a doctoral candidate in social work at Capella University, where his dissertation examines methods of disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.
With LGBTQ issues a political and social lightning rod, running the LGBT Center of Central Pennsylvania takes a strong leader – and Amanda Arbour has shown she’s up to the task. As director since 2017, Arbour has secured additional funding and expanded the Center’s programming, staffing and advocacy work. She has also prioritized anti-racism activism and programs for transgender and nonbinary people, especially those of color and unhoused young people. Arbour was previously the racial justice program coordinator at the YWCA of Greater Harrisburg.
Andrea Custis assumed leadership of the Urban League of Philadelphia in 2017, 100 years after the organization was founded to promote economic and social justice for African Americans. Today, Custis, a seasoned corporate and nonprofit leader, leads an organization dedicated to propelling disadvantaged Philadelphians on a path of upward mobility through mentorship, advocacy and assistance with education, housing, health care and job training. Custis, who previously held leadership positions at Verizon, received a 2021 Woman of Power award from the National Urban League last year.
Reading native Larry Berringer directs the Berks Community Action Program, which coordinates services for 2,500 low-income residents annually. Berringer oversees a staff of 31 and secures the program’s $5 million budget largely through a series of federal and state grants that fund initiatives including mortgage assistance, subsidized preschool, parenting classes, and help with employment and housing. Prior to assuming his post, Berringer spent more than 20 years with the U.S. Army and worked briefly for the U.S. Census.
Bruce Rosvold started at GlaxoSmithKline selling pharmaceutical products. Thirty-five years later, he now gives them away for free or at a very low cost as director of the Philadelphia-based GlaxoSmithKline Patient Access Programs Foundation. Rosvold, a pharmacist who spent the intervening years in a variety of roles with GSK, coordinates programs that help low-income and underinsured people access and pay for vaccines as well as drugs that treat respiratory, immunological and other conditions.
Kristen Costa is the longtime director at the Erie Family Center, which supports local families with parenting and co-parenting workshops, free diapers and bilingual assistance for Spanish speakers. Under Costa's direction, the Family Center serves 350 families at any given time, providing largely free services to promote stronger family and community bonds. Costa, who has led the organization for more than a decade, is a special education teacher who previously served as a developmental specialist at the Barber National Institute, also in Erie.
With youth anxiety levels at a record high, Colleen McNichol is busier than ever as CEO of Child Guidance Resource Center, Greater Philadelphia's largest provider of children's mental health services. At CGRC, McNichol coordinates 550 therapists and 28 programs addressing trauma, behavioral health, wellness and family issues for 10,000 clients annually. McNichol has been with the organization for more than 30 years, overseeing human resources and serving as COO before assuming her current role.
From the East Liberty neighborhood redevelopment to veterans' housing, Caster Binion's work has a tangible impact throughout Pittsburgh. Binion heads the city housing authority and Allies and Ross Management and Development Corporation, where he manages a $200 million budget and oversees 2,600 public housing units as well as a voucher program. Over the past decade, Binion has led numerous affordable housing, community revitalization and site development projects, transforming blighted or neglected neighborhoods and stimulating economic activity while creating housing for formerly homeless veterans and low-income families.
David Lewis has raised more than $300 million over 32 years at the United Way, the world's largest nonprofit. For the last decade, Lewis has headed United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley, achieving record fundraising and investments, including a 2021 community investment of $22 million. Under his leadership, UWGLV was designated a center of excellence – an honor allotted to the top 2% of United Ways globally – recognizing Lewis' significant impact in local literacy rates, affordable food access and senior citizen services.
Joyce Ajlouny’s career epitomizes the cosmopolitan spirit for which the American Friends Service Committee, which she leads, is known. Ajlouny, a Palestinian American and practicing Quaker, has directed the Ramallah Friends School in the West Bank, served as Palestine and Israel country director with Oxfam Great Britain and chaired the Association of International Development Agencies. In Philadelphia, she oversees AFSC's global social justice and peace advocacy work, bringing the Quaker perspective to issues including immigration, incarceration and economic fairness.
Twenty-five years ago, Darryl Bundrige saw firsthand the difference Americorps volunteers could make when he led a team that tutored, mentored, and provided after-school programming at a Philadelphia elementary school. Today, as head of City Year Philadelphia, Bundrige leads an Americorps affiliate that partners 200 members with district schools to provide academic support for 10,000 children annually. Since becoming executive director in 2015, Bundrige has increased funding, grown City Year's staff by nearly 50%, and increased the operating budget by 25%.
Steady as the current, environmental activist and attorney Maya K. van Rossum has served as the Delaware riverkeeper for over three decades. Van Rossum, the founder of the Bristol-based Delaware Riverkeeper Network, leads the national Green Amendment environmental movement and is publishing the upcoming “The Green Amendment: The People’s Fight for a Clean, Safe, and Healthy Environment.” She has led lawsuits on behalf of Pennsylvania environmental policy and been appointed by New Jersey and Pennsylvania politicians to a number of regional task forces and conservation committees.
As president and CEO of the Scranton Area Community Foundation, Laura Ducceschi oversees 280 charitable funds and foundations with more than $90 million in assets. Under her leadership, the Foundation distributes $6 million in annual grantmaking to support various quality-of-life programs throughout the Lackawanna County region. Ducceschi, who assumed the role 10 years ago, has spearheaded various initiatives including a training center for nonprofit leaders, an animal welfare collaborative and NEPA Gives, a regional fundraising partnership.
When Marcus Allen took over leadership of Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence in 2013, he was its first Black CEO in 106 years. In the decade since, Allen, a former professional basketball player, has grown BBBS Independence into the commonwealth's largest one-on-one mentoring program – and the third-largest BBBS affiliate nationwide, serving 3,700 Philadelphia-area youths annually. To cultivate the pipeline of leaders of color, Allen also co-chairs BBBS of America's diversity, equity and inclusion committee and is a member of the national organization’s National Leadership Council.
After two decades in audit and business development at Deloitte, David Viehman now works for God – kind of. Viehman serves as acting CEO at the American Bible Society, a Philadelphia-based organization that distributes Bibles worldwide and maintains an armed forces ministry as well as numerous digital Bible resources. Viehman, who has a divinity degree, was previously a board member of the ABS and has also served as a church consultant and pastor; he is currently a moderator of the Philadelphia Presbytery.
Tom Baker’s commitment to community is evident. The new director of North Hills Community Outreach spent years at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, where he oversaw programming before serving as chief community affairs officer. At North Hills, Baker leads a 30-year-old interfaith organization that helps Allegheny neighbors in crisis with a food pantry, education and transportation assistance, employment services, and emergency financial aid. Until assuming his current position, Baker represented District 1 on the Allegheny County Council.
From the Philadelphia home base of Resources for Human Development, Marco Giordano oversees programs with national reach. Giordano joined RHD in 2007 as its chief accounting officer, becoming CFO and then CEO of the broad-based nonprofit. Under his tenure, RHD supports more than 160 human services programs that assist tens of thousands of Americans annually in handling homelessness, disabilities, family and veterans’ issues, addiction and health care needs. Giordano, a professional accountant, was previously a controller at Temple University.
For more than 20 years, Bucks County Opportunity Council chief Erin Lukoss has worked to help her neighbors improve their economic lot. After years serving as a self-sufficiency coach and then director of client services, Lukoss now heads the Council, part of a national network of community action centers established as part of President Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty. Under Lukoss' leadership, BCOC assists 57,000 clients annually with housing, food, finances, income tax preparation and home energy weatherization.
As president of the Carbon County Action Committee for Human Services in Lehighton, Stanley Haupt coordinates assistance for low-income Lehigh Valley residents, overseeing the home services that can be financially out of reach but are essential during Pennsylvania winters: weatherization, energy assistance, home repairs and emergency housing. Under Haupt’s leadership, the Committee – part of a national network of anti-poverty community action centers – is a member of the United Way of Carbon County and coordinates social services as the local Salvation Army contact.
Where some see leftover lasagna, Leah Lizarondo sees a meal for hungry Pittsburghers. Lizarondo heads 412 Food Rescue, the nonprofit she founded to redistribute surplus food from restaurants and farms via her app, Food Rescue Hero, which alerts volunteer drivers to nearby victuals. The Manila native, a former entrepreneur-in-residence at Carnegie Mellon University, is a current fellow at Acumen Academy, an organization that promotes social justice. In eight years, Lizarondo has repurposed more than 100 million pounds of food – and she’s just getting started.
When times are tough and food insecurity rises, Lisa Scales is ready. For the past decade, she has headed the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, which operates in 11 Southwestern Pennsylvania counties. Scales, an attorney, manages a partner network of 850 local organizations that distributes 45 million meals each year. For her leadership during the pandemic, Scales was named 2021’s Pittsburgher of the Year by Pittsburgh Magazine. She is currently chair of Feeding Pennsylvania, the state affiliate of anti-hunger nonprofit Feeding America.
At a food drive or a Martin Luther King Day celebration, you might find Helen Wachter surrounded by kids of all ages. That’s because Wachter is the longtime director of KEYS Service Corps in Pittsburgh, a program that provides one-on-one mentorship for at-risk youth in Pittsburgh and Allegheny counties. Since 1995, she has coordinated yearlong AmeriCorps volunteers who provide homework tutoring, after-school activities and service projects. Wachter previously served as a youth planner for the Allegheny County Department of Human Services.
With rents rising and homelessness a visible problem across Philadelphia, Tina Pagotto is stepping up fundraising to provide solutions. Pagotto leads the Bethesda Project, a Philadelphia organization that coordinates housing, emergency shelter and personalized case management at 15 locations citywide. A social worker and Teach for America alum, Pagotto has worked at the Project since 2005, earning a reputation for both fundraising and building the partnerships that sustain Bethesda – and its clients – through leaner times.
Equitable housing and community development are lodestars for Rick Sauer, who has helmed the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations since 1999. At the PACDC, Sauer leads comprehensive efforts to alleviate homelessness and stabilize neighborhoods, including policy advocacy that secured Philadelphia's CDC tax credit program; a housing trust fund that has assisted 50,000 households; and running the Philadelphia Community Development Leadership Institute. Sauer serves on the boards of the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations and the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania.
Jodina Hicks leads the Pennsylvania chapter of Volunteers of America, a national, spiritually-based human services nonprofit. Hicks guides a statewide organization that coordinates affordable and emergency housing, child care and transportation for the commonwealth’s most vulnerable populations – veterans, the elderly and the disabled. Prior to joining Volunteers of America, Hicks, an attorney by training, served as Executive Director of UrbanPromise Camden and directed programming at the Safer Foundation, a Chicago reentry assistance organization for the formerly incarcerated.
Diane Menio has headed CARIE (the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly) since 1989, helping seniors and those who care for them navigate a changing social, technological and financial landscape. During Menio’s tenure, CARIE has worked to reform guardianship laws, provide for advance directive legislation and regulate long-term care. Menio also directs an evolving array of services for the elderly and their families, including assistance with transportation, Medicare and long-term care, as well as counseling.
Last year, Carlos Carter became CEO of the largest minority-focused social service organization in Southwestern Pennsylvania – the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, which assists more than 20,000 area residents annually with housing, health advocacy, family support and job training. Carter, a longtime former banker, previously headed the Homeless Children’s Education Fund and is in demand as a motivational speaker. He is the author of “Greatness Awaits You! 23 Ways to Unlock the Greatness Within” and was honored with the 2019 Lead Now Pittsburgh Fellowship.
When the National Urban League presented Erin Houston with its 2021 Excellence in Leadership award last year, it recognized her dedication to the organization's goals: civil rights and economic empowerment. As head of NUL’s Mercer County affiliate, the Shenango Valley Urban League, Houston is an outspoken advocate for voting rights and other timely social justice issues. She holds a doctorate in instructional management and leadership and won plaudits for shepherding the organization through the pandemic's financial challenges and partnering with local organizations like Mercer County Children and Youth Services.
Supporting Pennsylvanians to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty is the mission of Project HOME and its co-founder, Joan Dawson-McConnon. She started Project HOME in 1989 with an emergency shelter at a Philadelphia recreation center and now leads an organization that offers not only permanent, subsidized housing, but also services that support economic independence: childcare and school support, adult education and job training and health care services. Dawson-McConnon has spearheaded Project HOME’s development of nearly 1,000 units, including several buildings devoted to affordable homes.
Thoai Nguyen has a special kinship with the Asian immigrants he works with at the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition. His own family arrived from war-torn Vietnam as refugees, and Nguyen grew up in South Philadelphia – the neighborhood where he now advocates for more recent arrivals. Under Nguyen's longtime leadership, SEAMAAC partners with dozens of government, health care and nonprofit agencies to assist 1,500 immigrants annually with a variety of human services, and has expanded its community development initiatives throughout South Philadelphia.
From AIDS to COVID-19 and through four decades of flu seasons, Richard Cohen has guided the Public Health Management Corporation through various public health challenges since he assumed the post in 1980. Cohen, who holds a doctorate in social sciences, has grown the organization 200-fold and now oversees a $325 million budget, 3,500 employees and various subsidiary organizations. He coordinates a network of 350 public health programs dealing with everything from behavioral health and substance use to vaccines, violence intervention and parental support.
Riverkeepers Theodore Evgeniadis and John Zaktansky are stewards of the mighty Susquehanna River. Working in concert with local outdoors enthusiasts, community groups and government entities, each raises awareness of the river and its delicate watershed ecosystem. Evgeniadis and Zaktansky also patrol pollution and coordinate with regulatory agencies to enforce environmental laws.
Zaktansky loves the Susquehanna so much, he literally sings its praises: Last year, he released an album called, "Songs of the Susquehanna," featuring two dozen odes to the waterway composed by local musicians. Evgeniadis, riverkeeper since 2017, also works in finance, bringing his accounting skills to his role as the Association’s treasurer.
STEP stands for Success Through Engagement and Partnership – and it’s both motto and acronym for the social service agency James Plankenhorn directs. Plankenhorn leads an organization with a $33 million budget that partners with nonprofits and government agencies to coordinate transportation assistance, health and senior services, workforce development programs, and housing. STEP also operates Head Start classrooms and works with Americorps volunteers. In 2020, Plankenhorn launched the agency’s social justice task force.
As the economy faces a downturn, Mike Smith, who will retire later this month, knows more Pennsylvanians will come to Goodwill of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the organization he has helmed since 2002. Smith, who joined Goodwill in 1989, oversees one of the largest of Goodwill International's 160 independent member agencies, with 1,400 employees and $50 million in annual revenue. Smith, a founding member of the Alliance of Nonprofit Stores, leads an organization best known for selling secondhand goods – the proceeds of which fund myriad social services.
As president of CONCERN, Gordon May coordinates a child welfare agency specializing in adoption, foster care, behavioral health, juvenile justice and related community-based services. May oversees the organization’s 14 sites, more than 300 foster homes and a staff of 500 that serves 5,000 families annually throughout eastern and north-central Pennsylvania and southern Maryland, including 400 child placements. A social worker by training, May previously spent a decade as national vice president of Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.
COVID-19 grabs the medical headlines, but Kirsten Burkhart works to remind Pennsylvanians that AIDS is still with us. She leads AIDS Resource, a community organization that supports people affected by HIV and AIDS with testing, prevention, education and referrals. Since joining the organization two decades ago, Burkhart has expanded AIDS Resource from its Lycoming County base to nine other Central Pennsylvania counties. She has also launched a podcast, a multimedia education campaign, and more recently, COVID-19 resources.
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