Philadelphia has been a locus of power for as long as such a thing has existed on these shores. Even before there were states to unite, the city lured those with ambition – political, economic, religious and cultural – and throughout the ensuing centuries, the path to prosperity, influence and achievement has often passed through this city.
Cobblestones and carriages may have been replaced by WiFi and Zoom, but the primacy of the nation’s first capital remains. From politicians to life sciences magnates – the economic heirs to America’s first entrepreneurs – and from real estate titans to nonprofit influencers, this year’s Philadelphia Power 100 is proof that power comes in many forms and is wielded in many ways.
Take a look at who, in the following profiles, which were researched and written by City & State staff and freelance writer Hilary Danailova.
After decades of championing affordable housing and local enterprise, longtime City Council President Darrell Clarke recently introduced his biggest project yet: the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative, a $400 million project that would fund housing and home repairs, help renters and invest in small businesses and neighborhood infrastructure – all at a time when Philadelphia is still recovering from the pandemic’s aftershocks. Amid a reshuffling caused by the resignations of possible mayoral hopefuls, Clarke is supporting Mayor Jim Kenney’s anti-gun violence initiatives.
Larry Krasner may be a lightning rod for many Americans’ views on justice – but so far, that hasn't been as fatal for his career as it was for his San Francisco counterpart, the recently recalled Chesa Boudin. That hasn’t stopped Harrisburg Republicans from trying, as seen by the state House’s effort to impeach him. At home, Krasner retains substantial support in this social justice-minded city – and despite the ongoing testiness between his office and Philly’s police union, Krasner has convinced many Philadelphians that he’s taking crime seriously.
It’s the home stretch for second-term Mayor Jim Kenney, who – following last spring’s South Street mass shooting – admitted that he sometimes fantasizes about a different job. He’ll get that opportunity come 2024, but for now, Kenney is focused on the city’s continuing recovery from the pandemic and tackling the alarming rise in gun violence. His proposed gun ban at recreation centers was shot down by the courts, but his teen curfew was just made permanent – and Kenney has another year-plus to turn crime rates around.
Representing Northeast Philadelphia in the redrawn 2nd District, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle is a four-term Congressman whose brother, Kevin, is currently a state representative – a job Boyle previously held. Now a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Boyle last year joined U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to sponsor the so-called ultra-millionaire tax. And as vice chair of the House Budget Committee, Boyle pushed recent legislation to repeal the U.S. debt ceiling, along with championing progressive priorities like lower drug pricing.
U.S. Rep Dwight Evans has represented Philadelphia longer than just about anybody – 42 years, to be exact, including 36 in the state legislature before he headed to Washington, D.C. in 2016. Up for reelection in a redrawn district this fall, Evans recently released a plan to reduce the city’s rampant gun violence and has been among Congress’ most vocal critics of the U.S. Postal Service, decrying its failure to deliver reliable services. Evans has also sponsored legislation aimed at supporting victims of gun violence, bolstering small businesses and renovating aging schools.
In October, when Brian Roberts named Mike Cavanaugh as president of Comcast, Cavanaugh became the first non-family member in that role. For Roberts, a former company president himself, it was a further evolution of the company founded by his father, who would doubtless be impressed by Comcast’s growth under his son’s aegis – $116 billion in annual revenue – as well as by his expansive vision: Under Roberts’ leadership, Comcast has acquired AT&T Broadband and NBCUniversal and is said to be eyeing Hulu; he is also a major Democratic Party donor.
Wall Street veteran Rebecca Rhynhart shook up the books at City Hall when she was elected as City Controller in 2017. Her audits and calls for financial reform have won praise from skeptics of city spending, and her criticisms of the current mayoral administration are a logical basis for a potential mayoral run of her own – especially her recent report revealing that Philadelphia’s investment in violence prevention, the top issue in next year’s race, has been funneling more toward long-term strategies than to immediate solutions.
Madeline Bell continues to grow Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in both size and influence. Bell, who started her CHOP career as a nurse, recently announced a partnership with Main Line Health to provide pediatric care for that regional health system. She is also planning $3.5 billion worth of capital projects over the next five years, including the Hub for Clinical Collaboration, a 19-story edifice that is nearing completion, and the Schuylkill Avenue Research Building, a high-rise that will expand CHOP’s footprint along the Schuylkill riverbank.
Ryan Boyer shook up the Philadelphia Building and Construction Trades Council just by becoming its first Black business manager last year. But Boyer, the longtime head of the majority-Black Laborers District Council, isn’t content with symbolism and has made diversifying the construction trades a priority: He’s partnered the historically majority-white Building and Construction Trades Council with Everybody Builds, a regional initiative for wider representation in construction projects, and has stepped up outreach and recruitment efforts on behalf of his labor coalition.
Joanna McClinton still lives in the neighborhood where she grew up – Southwest Philadelphia – yet she continues to make her presence felt well beyond the city limits. McClinton is the first person of color and the first woman to lead either caucus in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, where she is the Minority Leader. As midterm elections loom, McClinton, who represents parts of Philadelphia and Delaware counties, has championed comprehensive legislation to overhaul elections, from canvassing to voting accessibility to fair ballot-counting.
Over three terms in the State Senate, Sharif Street has made it clear he’s a politician to watch. As co-chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Crime Prevention Caucus, Street collaborated on the $290 million Violence Prevention Grants program; he has also championed measures around criminal justice reform and ending cannabis prohibition. Street, the Democratic chair of the state Senate Banking & Insurance Committee, became the first African American elected as chair of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party in June.
Eyebrows were raised across Philadelphia this year when media reported that a PAC linked to Jeff Brown had raised considerable funds – a potential prelude to a 2023 mayoral run. Brown is a familiar name in Philadelphia, where his ShopRite and Fresh Grocer stores are neighborhood fixtures, and in Harrisburg, where he chairs Gov. Tom Wolf’s State Workforce Development Board. And that’s not Brown’s only political cred: The fourth-generation grocer has been widely lauded for bringing fresh food to previously underserved neighborhoods and for hiring the formerly incarcerated.
As the leader of Independence Health Group, Gregory Deavens has made health equity and mental wellness hallmarks of his tenure overseeing one of the nation’s largest insurers. Under Deavens’ leadership, Independence partnered with Quartet Health to expand access to mental health care and helped spearhead Accelerate Health Equity, a multi-year initiative that brings together stakeholders to improve health outcomes across Philadelphia. Deavens, who started his career as an accountant, previously served as Independence’s executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer.
Michael Innocenzo leads Philadelphia-based PECO, the commonwealth’s major electric and natural gas utility company. He oversees a fast-growing Exelon Corporation subsidiary with more than 2 million customers throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania, $3.7 billion in annual revenue and 2,700 employees. As of this month, Innocenzo is the board chair of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia; he also serves on the boards of the Philadelphia Free Library and the Philadelphia Police Athletic League.
The $3.5 billion Schuylkill Yards complex rising along that river’s western bank reflects the strategic ambition of Drexel University President John Fry. Over his dozen years in the role, Fry has shepherded Drexel through a period of expansion that has transformed both the school and previously sleepy areas of West Philadelphia. Fry was recently named honorary consul of South Africa for Philadelphia, a position that reflects his commitment to international collaborations – including HIV prevention research at Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health.
State House Democratic Whip Jordan Harris has earned a reputation as a crusader for criminal justice reform. Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law, which Harris co-sponsored, became a national model for sealing criminal records, and Harris has more recently promoted legislation aimed at reforming the probation system and discouraging employers from inquiring about criminal history. Harris, who has also championed gun violence prevention, previously directed Philadelphia’s Youth Commission, where he worked on programs that gave young people alternatives to nuisance activities.
Legal scholar Liz Magill took over leadership of the University of Pennsylvania this year, importing a strong record of administrative success. At the University of Virginia, where she was most recently executive vice president and provost, Magill recruited a historically diverse faculty and led overhauls of both UVA’s undergraduate advising and its internal budget system. Magill began her career clerking for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and later served as dean of Stanford Law School, where she established its Law and Policy Lab.
Kevin Mahoney continually seeks out innovations and partnerships that will keep Penn Medicine in the top echelon of U.S. health systems. Mahoney, CEO since 2019, has spearheaded numerous capital projects – including the $1.6 Pavilion on Penn Medicine’s University City campus – as well as technological innovations to streamline scheduling, health records and patient access. Most recently, Mahoney announced Penn Medicine’s partnership with the Philadelphia 76ers, as well as an enhanced collaboration with Independence Blue Cross.
A longtime community organizer and among the best-known members of City Council, Helen Gym leads a social justice agenda centered around housing, education, and economic fairness. She created one of the most successful anti-eviction programs in the country; crusaded to end a state takeover of Philadelphia’s public schools and to restore their nurses, counselors, art and music programs; and championed legislation guaranteeing stable schedules for 130,000 hourly workers. Gym is the co-chair of Local Progress, a national network of municipal leaders advancing racial and economic justice.
Criminal justice is a priority for third-term Councilmember and Majority Leader Curtis Jones Jr., who has championed legislation restricting employers’ investigation of criminal backgrounds, encouraging police officers to substitute fines for arrests in minor matters, and supporting eyewitnesses to crimes. Jones, who also chairs the chamber’s committee on commerce and economic development, has led workforce development efforts resulting in nearly $600 million in municipal contract jobs for women-, disabled- and minority-owned businesses.
Few politicians have seen their stars rise as quickly as Malcolm Kenyatta, whose recent bid for Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate nomination – while unsuccessful – nevertheless attracted considerable support, especially in his native Philadelphia. Kenyatta first made history in 2018 when he became the first openly LGBTQ candidate of color elected to Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, where he has championed progressive legislation – including measures to decriminalize cannabis, protect LGBTQ students from discrimination, bolster reproductive rights and promote environmental justice.
As the minority appropriations chair in the state Senate, where he has represented Philadelphia since 1994, Vincent Hughes is responsible for shaping comprehensive legislation tackling big problems – the latest being the Housing Investment Plan, a $2.3 billion affordable housing initiative. Hughes is also the legislative leader for the Pennsylvania Promise initiative, which would make college free for state residents. During the pandemic, Hughes spearheaded $200 million in grants – half of which are going to historically disadvantaged entrepreneurs – in the COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program.
Even if he didn’t happen to be in one of the country’s most solidly Democratic bastions, Bob Brady would wield outsize influence as America’s longest-serving Democratic chair. Since retiring from Congress in 2019, Brady, a former deputy mayor, has focused on Democrats’ big electoral opportunities – not just in Philadelphia, where next year’s mayoral race is already heating up, but also statewide and in Washington, D.C. as his party’s candidates try to win both the governor’s office and the open Senate seat.
Throughout the pandemic and Philadelphia’s economic recovery, SEPTA’s buses, trolleys, subways and trains have kept the city running thanks in no small part to Leslie Richards. As CEO of Philadelphia’s public transit network – the nation’s sixth-largest – Richards heads a $2 billion operation with nearly 10,000 unionized employees, with whom she negotiated a November 2021 contract that averted a potentially crippling strike. Richards, the first female secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, has been a fervent advocate for women and diversity in transportation and government.
A year into his tenure as president of Temple University, Jason Wingard is busy overseeing a capital campaign that will enhance learning across the school’s North Philadelphia campus. Several buildings have already undergone extensive upgrades, debuting new public spaces for post-pandemic university life. Next up is the $120 million transformation of Paley Hall and its Charles Library, a campus centerpiece. Wingard, Temple’s first Black president, previously held executive positions at Goldman Sachs and The Education Board, a leadership coaching consultancy.
Kendra Brooks made history when she became the first-ever member of the Working Families Party – and the first third-party candidate in a generation – to be elected to the City Council in 2019. Inspired as a young parent by a local charter school takeover, Brooks, a longtime North Philly resident, founded several grassroots coalitions that successfully lobbied on behalf of public schools. In her current role, Brooks has supported measures to increase affordable housing, prevent evictions, fund public education and protect community gardens.
Cardiologist and new Jefferson Health and Thomas Jefferson University CEO Joseph Cacchione is tasked with continuing the aggressive growth strategy of his predecessor, Stephen Klasko, who steered Jefferson through a decade of expansion – including the absorption of Philadelphia University and the more recent acquisition of Health Partners Plans, a nonprofit insurer. Cacchione, who assumed the helm days before Jefferson announced its most recent affiliation with Acadia’s Belmont Behavioral Health Hospital, was most recently an executive vice president at Ascension, a $28 billion health system with locations throughout the U.S.
State Rep. Martina White is careful with money – not only that of her clients as a financial adviser – but also with the commonwealth's budget. Since her election in 2015 – as Philadelphia’s first new Republican elected in a generation – White, who represents Northeast Philadelphia, has introduced legislation to create sustainable school funding and make sanctuary cities liable for damages caused by undocumented immigrants. She was the first woman to chair Philadelphia’s Republican Party and is currently Secretary of the House Republican Caucus.
It’s been a challenging couple of years for Danielle Outlaw, a Bay Area native and 20-year Oakland Police Department veteran who in 2020 became the first African American woman to head Philadelphia’s police department. Her short-staffed department has struggled to contain the violent crime – especially the persistent shootings – that began surging in the wake of the pandemic lockdowns and racial justice protests. In response, Outlaw has stepped up recruitment efforts and shuffled her leadership team.
Northwest Philly native Isaiah Thomas won election to the City Council in 2019 at age 35. Motivated by working and coaching in schools and athletic leagues, Thomas has served as vice chair of City Council’s Children and Youth Committee and supported legislation to bolster schools, combat violence and improve job training. Prior to his election, Thomas oversaw community affairs for the city controller’s office, co-chaired the Mayor’s Commission for African American Men, and was a 10th Ward committee member.
Since joining City Council in 2020, urban planning expert Jamie Gauthier has made her mark as a champion of housing for her West Philadelphia constituents. Gauthier has challenged the developers seeking to build upscale dwellings – especially in University City – while backing affordable housing requirements for new development in her gentrifying district and fighting to preserve existing housing. Gauthier has also pushed for investments in community resources like recreation centers and violence prevention programs.
After 16 years at the Eastern District, where she represented the federal government in numerous high-stakes defensive and prosecutorial cases, Jacqueline Romero was sworn in as U.S. attorney this year. Romero has been the district’s civil rights coordinator at the U.S. Department of Justice in Philadelphia as well as serving on the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Strike Force, where she prosecuted cases involving fraud, opioid abuse, and civil rights. She also teaches in Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law Trial Advocacy Program.
Independence Blue Cross is a huge organization – but Stephen Fera knows health care happens one relationship at a time. In his role overseeing public affairs for the insurer, Fera guides policy advocacy along with numerous programs and partnerships aimed at improving health access – including Independence’s $140 million charitable foundation, which he spearheaded in 2011. Fera also co-chairs the Ending Racism Partnership, an initiative of the Urban Affairs Coalition that brings influential Philadelphians together around issues of racial justice.
As head of Laborers Union Local 57, Esteban Vera Jr. heads a 3,000-strong confederation of construction, utility, manufacturing and other infrastructure-related workers across five counties. Vera was the first Latino to lead a major Philadelphia-area union, as well as the first Latino to serve on SEPTA’s board of directors. A U.S. Army veteran, Vera has made cooperation between management and labor a signature of his leadership, and oversees health, pension and legal funds for his membership.
Center City District head Paul Levy is the caretaker of the downtown spaces where Philadelphians work, play and thrive. Levy, who also serves on the board of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, cultivates partnerships with myriad commercial and corporate entities through a $30 million business improvement zone. Having shepherded Philly’s historic downtown through a multi-decade evolution, Levy is confidently guiding its renaissance as Center City’s commercial and entertainment districts emerge from pandemic-era torpor.
City Council’s first Asian American member – and one of its only two Republicans – David Oh is emphasizing public safety, small businesses and veterans’ affairs while positioning himself for a potential mayoral run next year. Oh spearheaded and chairs the Council’s committee on global opportunities and the creative/innovative economy, and has leveraged his family background to foster economic ties between South Korea and Philadelphia. A former assistant district attorney, Oh is also a U.S. Army veteran who created the nation’s first veterans hiring tax credit.
Thirty-some years ago, David Adelman bet on Philadelphia real estate – and won big. Adelman invested $2,000 in Campus Apartments, which, under his leadership, has grown into a $2 billion student housing behemoth with properties in 18 states and a substantial footprint in University City. Adelman is also the co-founder and vice chair of Philadelphia-based FS Investments, where he helps manage $24 billion in assets, and is one of the backers of the proposed Philadelphia 76ers arena in Center City.
After a long tenure overseeing the region’s airports, Rochelle “Chellie” Cameron took over leadership of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia in July. Cameron is tasked with leading the 11-county region into its post-pandemic era via an organization that promotes growth on behalf of 600,000 workers in member organizations across three states. She previously presided over record passenger traffic as CEO of the Philadelphia International Airport and the Northeast Philadelphia Airport, a $16.8 billion network that supports more than 100,000 jobs.
Patrick Eiding had a busy month supporting his picketing AFL-CIO members at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and stumping for Democratic candidates ahead of November’s elections. It’s familiar territory for Eiding, who for two decades has led the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, an influential labor coalition representing over 100 local unions. Eiding is also secretary-treasurer of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council and serves on the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO Executive Council.
One of Philadelphia’s most influential labor leaders, Lynne Fox is the longtime manager of Workers United’s Philadelphia Joint Board, president of the Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee and vice president of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO Council. She also serves as international president for Workers United, an 86,000-member North American coalition, and is an executive board member of SEIU, with which Workers United is affiliated. Fox is a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia board and is the first woman chair of Amalgamated Bank.
Lifelong Philadelphian Jerry Jordan has a lifelong commitment to public education – a value instilled by his family of educators and cemented by his early career as a Spanish and ESL teacher. As head of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, Jordan has secured key union contracts, including a 2021 settlement creating a paraprofessional career program. As schools struggle with pandemic-era staff shortages, Jordan has been working to find solutions nationally in his role as a vice president on the American Federation of Teachers’ executive council.
City commissioners Seth Bluestein, Lisa Deeley and Omar Sabir are the three members of Philadelphia’s Board of Elections, where they oversee the electoral process and manage voter registration. Bluestein has worked in the office for a decade; as a deputy commissioner, he spearheaded the 2013 launch of a public elections website. Deeley, a commissioner since 2016, guided the implementation of mail-in voting for the 2020 election. And Sabir, who was elected city commissioner in 2019, is the founder of Vote Philly Vote, an initiative that combats voter apathy to increase electoral turnout citywide.
When she took the reins of the Philadelphia Sheriff's Office in 2020, Rochelle Bilal became the first-ever elected woman and first Black female sheriff. Aside from traditional duties like capturing fugitives and managing property foreclosure auctions, Bilal has also played a role in the city’s response to gun violence. She is expanding her gun lock program and partnered with the Philadelphia Police Department – where Bilal worked for 27 years – in a July operation that arrested dozens of criminals.
When Regina Cunningham unveiled Penn Medicine’s Pavilion tower last year, the nurse-turned-CEO won raves for masterminding the most ambitious capital project yet at HUP’s University City campus. But when Cunningham announced recently that Penn Medicine would be the official team health care partner for the Philadelphia 76ers, she added the cool factor as well. Cunningham has led the health system for five years, cementing its status as Philadelphia’s preeminent medical institution – and No. 1 in Pennsylvania, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Michael Heller heads Cozen O’Connor, a Philadelphia-based full-service international law firm with expertise in litigation, business law and government relations and offices in 31 cities globally. Under Heller’s leadership, Cozen O’Connor has grown in revenue by more than 70%; Law.com reports the firm raked in nearly $585 million last year, making it the 100th-highest-grossing law firm in the world. Heller also chairs the firm’s board of directors, as well as the board of trustees at Villanova Law School, his alma mater.
From the Phillies to the hoagies, the Liberty Bell to the Rocky statue, Angela Val promotes the joys of Philly to a worldwide audience as CEO of Visit Philadelphia, the city’s tourism organization. A former marketing executive and a destination expert, Val spearheaded the widely lauded Philadelphia host committee for 2016’s Democratic National Convention. She previously led Ready. Set. Philly!, a yearlong pandemic recovery project, and served as chief administration officer for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Donna Bullock’s crusade for environmental justice has a personal connection: Her son suffered lead poisoning – an affliciton that disproportionately affects urban communities. Bullock, a Strawberry Mansion Democrat who chairs the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, has championed policy to eliminate toxins from the city’s aging housing and schools, as well as measures to ensure fair pay for Black women and reduce gun violence. Bullock previously worked for City Council President Darrell Clarke and as an attorney for Philadelphia Community Legal Services.
Award-winning pedagogue, certified public accountant and education scholar Cheryl McConnell is the interim president at St. Joseph’s University. She previously served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, leading the integration of the University of the Sciences as well as helping steer St. Joseph’s COVID-19 strategy. McConnell, who holds degrees in accounting and higher education administration, has received numerous teaching awards in her career, which included a stint as dean of the business and management schools at Rockhurst University.
Mustafa Rashed learned the power of rhetoric and narrative as a high school intern at The Philadelphia Tribune. Today, Rashed leads Bellevue Strategies, a public affairs firm that clients as diverse as WHYY, Starbucks and Germantown Friends School turn to for rhetoric and narrative that furthers their interests. Under Rashed’s leadership, Bellevue has helped advance legislation around the $3.5 billion Schuylkill Yards development project, restore city funding for the African American Museum of Philadelphia, and advocate for Mayor Jim Kenney’s soda tax to fund free pre-K.
As the Philadelphia region diversifies, ethnic coalitions are seeing their influence and numbers grow. At the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, Regina Hairston brings skills honed as a Bellevue Strategies lobbyist to her role as a strategist and cheerleader for Black-owned businesses. Jennifer Rodríguez, who formerly directed the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs under Michael Nutter, works to expand opportunity and access for the rapidly growing Hispanic population. Narasimha Shenoy, who founded the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, directs its efforts to support small businesses and fight hate crimes for fellow Asian immigrants like himself and their communities. And Zach Wilcha is the first-ever executive director of the Independence Business Alliance, a nonprofit organization that serves as the Philadelphia region’s LGBTQ+ chamber of commerce. Under Wilcha’s leadership, the alliance has experienced membership growth, an increase in membership and board diversity, and award-winning programming – including the Intersections D&I initiative and the TransWork program, both of which aim to increase representation in the organization and the region.
James Snell represents Philadelphia’s plumbers, welders and HVAC technicians as business manager of Steamfitters Local 420, the local chapter of UA, the North American Steamfitters union. Snell, who has been active in the union for nearly two decades, oversees benefits and a training program for workers throughout a 10-county southeastern Pennsylvania area.
He also leads government advocacy on behalf of Local 420, whose members include pipefitters and other specialists that service the commonwealth’s gas pipelines.
Native Californian-turned-Philadelphian state Sen. Nikil Saval imported the progressive activism he honed as a Stanford graduate student labor organizer to his adopted city. Saval established his progressive bona fides as a co-founder of Reclaim Philadelphia, a grassroots organization that helped elect District Attorney Larry Krasner in 2017, and was himself elected two years later as Philadelphia’s first Asian American ward leader. In the state Senate, Saval has crusaded for the Whole-Home Repairs Act, a measure funding home upgrades for residents and small landlords.
You wouldn’t know it from the gleaming glass edifice towering over the Schuylkill River, but Philadelphia-based FMC, helmed by President and CEO Mark Douglas, is an agricultural business, producing crop protection technologies for the farm industry. Douglas joined FMC in 2010, overseeing global operations, industrial chemicals and agricultural solutions before assuming the top job in 2020, overseeing a corporation with $5 billion in annual revenue. He previously held leadership positions with the Dow Chemical Company.
In 2014, attorney Jami McKeon became the first female chair in the history of Morgan Lewis, a global law firm founded in Philadelphia in 1873. Under McKeon’s leadership, Morgan Lewis has more than doubled in size, significantly expanded its Asian presence, and now features more than 2,000 lawyers providing legal services from 31 offices across 17 time zones. McKeon first joined Morgan Lewis in 1981 and, prior to assuming her current position, led the firm’s litigation practice, its largest group.
Bill Marrazzo has helmed WHYY, Philadelphia’s premier NPR station, for 25 years and counting. Under his leadership, the station's television, radio and online offerings have helped raise its national profile via stars like Terry Gross of “Fresh Air,” a slate of podcasts like “Serum,” and a multichannel distribution strategy that includes a popular app. Prior to joining WHYY, Marrazzo was CEO of the environmental corporation, Roy F. Weston, and served as Philadelphia's Water Commissioner for eight years.
As head of Temple University Health System since 2018, Michael Young has prioritized financial stability, resulting in upgraded ratings that lay the groundwork for future growth at the health system, which employs more than 1,500 researchers and physicians. Young’s strategic reorganization has included the divestment of underperforming departments and prioritized nurse recruitment to handle above-pre-pandemic demand. Under Young’s guidance, TUHS has implemented the Temple Healthy Chest Initiative, a comprehensive lung screening program, and celebrated COVID-19 outcomes that have far exceeded state and national averages.
As managing director for the City of Philadelphia, Tumar Alexander is tasked with supervising day-to-day operations across the city, ensuring responsive neighborhood services, and facilitating Mayor Jim Kenney’s strategic vision. Alexander assumed the role in the wake of 2020’s racial justice protests, vowing to make violence prevention his top priority. He brings 20 years of public service experience to the position, having worked across three mayoral administrations in a variety of policy and operational roles – including as chief of staff in the Managing Director’s Office during the John Street administration.
John Hawkins is a familiar presence in City Hall, where he advocates on behalf of his real estate development, technology and association clients, and strategizes around next year’s mayoral election. Hawkins founded the Philadelphia Strategies Group in 2019, drawing on his experience representing developers, corporations and other large entities as head of city relations for Wojdak Government Relations. Prior to that, Hawkins worked as a legislative assistant for then-Councilmember Jim Kenney and the state Senate Democratic Appropriations Committee.
State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams was openly miffed last spring when he faced his first serious primary challenger in nearly a quarter-century. And with good reason: Williams, the chamber’s Democratic Whip, is a Harrisburg institution, mentor to generations of younger legislators and a reliable champion for his Delaware County and Philadelphia constituents. Williams recently spearheaded legislation requiring scrutiny for school employment applicants with a history of sexual misconduct, promoting Holocaust education and supporting charter schools.
From travel and hotels to retail, sports and real estate, Nicole Cashman promotes the better things in life. Cashman is the founder of the Philadelphia-based marketing and communications agency that bears her name, specializing in upscale lifestyle, cultural and corporate brands such as the Four Seasons Hotel, Kiehl’s, the Kimmel Center and Brandywine Realty Trust. Cashman was named 2021’s Most Admired CEO by the Philadelphia Business Journal; this year, her firm was listed on PR Net’s Top 100 Agencies.
This year, Sharmain Matlock-Turner collaborated on a United Way-sponsored report identifying the substantial challenges that Black-led nonprofits still confront in negotiating funding. It’s a problem that Matlock-Turner has worked to ameliorate for more than 20 years at the Urban Affairs Coalition. Under her leadership, the UAC supports 80 nonprofits and has directed more than $1 billion in public and private funding for poverty reduction, education and workforce development.
Christine Tartaglione blazed a trail for women in the state Senate, where she was the first woman to serve in Democratic leadership. Having authored the commonwealth’s 2006 minimum wage increase, Tartaglione, the Democratic chair of the Senate Labor and Industry Committee, is currently working alongside Gov. Tom Wolf to raise Pennsylvania’s minimum wage again and to eliminate the sub-minimum tipped wage. Tartaglione also helped establish the state office for people with disabilities and has sponsored legislation giving state civil service hiring preference to these individuals.
When Marcus Allen was younger, he juggled basketballs professionally. Today, Allen juggles the responsibilities of heading Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence, where, in 2013, he became its first Black CEO in 106 years. Keeping his eye on the ball, Allen has guided the organization’s evolution into Pennsylvania’s largest one-on-one youth program, providing mentorship to nearly 4,000 Philadelphia-area children. And to make sure progress doesn’t stop with him, Allen is a member of BBBS of America’s National Leadership Council and co-chairs its DEI committee.
Remember when philly.com was the gateway to both the Inquirer and the Daily News? That was the brainchild of Brian Tierney, CEO of Brian Communications and the investor-publisher behind a now-defunct news website that at one point was second-ranked in national advertising. As a public relations, advertising and digital guru, Tierney has counted Comcast, Independence Blue Cross, AmeriHealth Caritas and Uber as part of his client list over the years. The Penn graduate also holds a law degree from Widener University and serves on the board of the Poynter Foundation.
Not every state senator is as online as Art Haywood, who represents parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. The social media-savvy Democrat regularly covers health and social topics on his “Ask Art” podcast and chats with constituents on his Facebook Live series.
Haywood, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, is a longtime advocate for public health measures, having served on Gov. Tom Wolf’s COVID-19 vaccine task force and having championed a state agency to address health equity.
Since becoming Philadelphia’s health commissioner last year, Cheryl Bettigole has emphasized the issues that have defined her career: violence prevention, equitable primary care and racial justice in medicine. Bettigole, a veteran family physician at city health centers, has also been an integral part of the Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 team, championing Philadelphia’s vaccination drive. Prior to that, as president of the National Physicians Alliance, Bettigole built a gun violence task force and crusaded for accessible, affordable health care.
Corporate lawyer and venture capitalist Ajay Raju has translated his success and influence into civic activism. He leads the Raju Foundation, whose philanthropic initiatives include the Germination Project, a leadership incubator; The Philadelphia Citizen, a media nonprofit; and the Ark Institute, a public health coalition. He also hosts 6ABC’s “Overheard” and is a regular panelist on that station’s “Inside Story.” In addition to heading his own law firm, Raju oversees two venture funds, Indigo Bio and 215 Capital, and Indigo Global, a management consulting firm.
With all the rainbow flags and Pride events nowadays, it’s easy to forget how groundbreaking journalist and activist Mark Segal’s work was back in 1976. That’s when he founded the Philadelphia Gay News, bringing visibility, community and advocacy to a demographic that lacked legal protection and social acceptance. Segal, a veteran of the 1969 Stonewall riots, has served as president of the National Gay Press Association and is the author of “And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality.”
Dalila Wilson-Scott makes sure Comcast does good while it does well. As chief diversity officer for the Philadelphia-based global telecommunications corporation, as well as president of its Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation, Wilson-Scott oversees diversity, equity and inclusion commitments and philanthropic strategy – in particular, a $100 million investment in social justice initiatives and more than $400 million in annual giving to nonprofits. Wilson-Scott previously headed global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase, where she served as president of the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.
Philadelphians are used to seeing Jim Gardner anchoring the 6 p.m. news – but they’ll have to live without him come 2023, when he will retire after a career that has shaped the city’s broadcast journalism landscape. Gardner, a native New Yorker, came to Philly in 1976 and became a fixture in his adopted hometown, covering virtually every major news story for decades. He also sponsors a broadcast journalism scholarship at Temple University.
Joseph Forkin oversees the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, a nonprofit that coordinates stewardship of Philadelphia’s liquid eastern boundary. Under his quarter-century of guidance, the DRWC manages initiatives to develop the waterfront with recreational, commercial and cultural offerings aimed at both residents and tourists, including parks, eateries and trails. Forkin, who is also a partner in a Port Richmond restaurant, previously ran his own consulting and management company, where he worked on a Northeast Philadelphia revitalization plan.
Legions of Philadelphians start their day with the insights of journalist Solomon Jones, whose daily talk show, “Wake Up With WURD” – on the radio station of the same name – parses the day’s news and culture from a Black perspective. Jones is also an award-winning columnist who explores themes of race and class for the Philadelphia Daily News and the Inquirer, and who blogs for WHYY. The author of eight novels and two short-story collections, Jones brings a distinctive Philadelphia voice to audiences well beyond the region.
Diana Cortes knows that a safer city starts with its firearm laws – and a fair election begins with voter protections. These are just some of the more consequential issues Cortes works on as Philadelphia’s general counsel, a role in which she advises and collaborates with the mayor, City Council, and various municipal agencies. Alongside police reform, gun violence and election integrity, Cortes has also prioritized diversity, equity, and inclusion within the 300-strong city law department, which she oversees.
Ron Philip is the new CEO of Spark Therapeutics, a nine-year-old outfit on the vanguard of Philadelphia’s burgeoning biotech scene. Philip, a veteran of the biopharma industry and management consulting, joined Spark in 2017 and led product strategy development and execution as the firm’s chief operating officer. Under Philip’s leadership, Spark has strengthened ties with his alma mater, Drexel, where he serves as trustee and chair of Drexel’s Academy of Natural Sciences and will oversee Spark’s $575 million investment in a new campus gene therapy center.
Ace communicator Susan Jacobson brings decades of public and private sector experience to her eponymous public affairs and crisis management firm. She is also the first woman in a generation to chair the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, where she brought together nearly 200 stakeholders for the organization’s pandemic response initiative, Recharge and Recover PHL. Jacobson, who serves on Gov. Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Commission for Women, previously led government relations as deputy chief of staff for then-Mayor Ed Rendell.
Enrollment is falling at Pennsylvania’s four-year colleges, but it’s rising fast at the Community College of Philadelphia, the city’s only public post-secondary institution. As its president, Dr. Donald Guy Generals coordinates programs and services for more than 35,000 credit and noncredit students from diverse backgrounds. Generals, who was named Best of Philly College President by Philadelphia Magazine last year, has presided over expanded academic offerings and key partnerships, including a hybrid degree program with the School District of Philadelphia.
As head of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Bill Golderer leads 100,000 donors, advocates and volunteers fighting poverty. Under his leadership, United Way helped distribute $18 million through the PHL COVID-19 Relief Fund and launched The Promise, a public-private partnership aimed at expanding educational and social opportunities. Golderer founded Broad Street Ministry, which coordinates myriad human services.
Whether working with the Philadelphia City Council or in Washington, D.C., Yvonne Roberts draws on extensive community relations experience to deliver results for clients at Triad Strategies, where she directs the firm’s Philadelphia office. Roberts, a seasoned lobbyist with strong ties to the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, headed her own consultancy before coming to Triad, where she has earned a reputation for helping local health institutions like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Mercy Health Center and Delaware Valley Community Health secure needed funding.
Far be it from us to jinx things, but as of this writing, the Eagles are doing pretty darn well this season under the ownership of Jeffrey Lurie, who bought the team in 1994 for a bargain – $185 million. Lurie, a Boston native, is also a movie producer who holds a doctorate in social science and has an estimated net worth of $4.4 billion.
The Sixers are also hitting their marks this season under the ownership of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, helmed by billionaire investor Josh Harris. Harris, a Wharton grad worth an estimated $5.3 billion, is also an owner of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and a general partner in the Crystal Palace Premier League soccer team.
And the Phillies – well, fans have been cheering the World Series return of The Fightin’s, whose owner is John Middleton, the scion of a Philadelphia tobacco company and a major donor to local schools and social service nonprofits.
Matt Bergheiser has helped guide the evolution of University City District, a community revitalization project, for more than half of its 25 years, assuming his current role in 2016. Bergheiser manages the public-private partnerships that invest in the neighborhood’s public spaces and institutions, leading efforts to address public safety and workforce development. Bergheiser, who has an MBA from Wharton, previously oversaw grantmaking as Philadelphia regional director of the Knight Foundation and currently serves on the board of the Barra Foundation, a Philadelphia-area philanthropy.
In August, Patrick Clancy celebrated a $22.8 million American Rescue Plan Good Jobs Challenge Grant for the organization he has headed since 2017, Philadelphia Works of Greater Philadelphia. PhilaWorks was one of just 32 workforce development agencies nationally awarded grants through the $500 million jobs initiative of President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, aimed at helping workers and their communities recover from the pandemic. At PhilaWorks, Clancy oversees partnerships and coordinates services that help 40,000 Philadelphians annually access education, training and employment assistance.
From the 2020 racial justice protests to an ongoing crime wave, Philadelphia police have had a rough job lately – and their champion is John McNesby, who heads the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5. McNesby leverages the power of his 14,000-strong union against what he views as the soft-on-crime approach of District Attorney Larry Krasner and fellow Democrats – as evidenced by his organization’s recent endorsement of Republican senatorial candidate Mehmet Oz.
From his corporate headquarters on Market Street, Joseph Coradino oversees a 22-million-square-foot retail empire at PREIT, a 62-year-old retail-focused real estate investment trust. Coradino has overseen a decade of acquisitions and mixed-use developments along the Eastern Seaboard, much of it in the Mid-Atlantic. Under his leadership, PREIT has a significant presence in the Philadelphia metropolitan area, with an emphasis on malls – including Center City’s Fashion District and the Cherry Hill Mall.
The Inquirer called SEPTA Chair and Republican fundraiser Pat Deon “the most influential man in Pennsylvania you’ve never heard of.” (That’s less true in Bucks County, where the Pat Deon Beverages family business has supplied locals with beer and other refreshments for more than a half-century.) For over two decades, Deon has chaired the country’s sixth-largest transit operation, shuttling from Philadelphia to Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. as he advocates for Philadelphia’s regional network of subways, trains, buses and trolleys.
Carl June leads the University of Pennsylvania’s research into one of the most potentially transformative areas of medicine: immunotherapy, which looks increasingly promising for the treatment of various cancers. June, a professor who directs both the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Penn, has conducted groundbreaking research into T-cell therapy for pediatric leukemia. He is the recipient of numerous prestigious scientific prizes, including a lifetime achievement award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
If he weren’t so passionate about helping Philadelphians, Keith Leaphart could have simply concentrated on his medical career. Instead, Leaphart has brought together philanthropists and influencers to improve city life – both as a longtime board member and current chair of the Lenfest Foundation, where he helps guide a variety of youth social services, and as the driving force behind Philanthropi, a digital platform that engages charitable givers. Leaphart also serves on the board of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Journalist Ernest Owens gained a following writing about intersectional issues of identity and culture, especially as seen through the prism of his being Black and openly gay. Apart from running his media empire and hosting the podcast “Ernestly Speaking!,” Owens is editor at large for Philadelphia Magazine and president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He also authored “The Case for Cancel Culture” and was recently nominated for a GLAAD Media Award for his writing at Rolling Stone magazine.
The COVID-19 pandemic cast Philadelphia’s racial health inequities into sharp relief – and Ala Stanford’s response was to found the Black Doctors Consortium in 2020, bringing free mobile testing and vaccines to tens of thousands of Philadelphians in historically underserved communities. Stanford, a pediatric surgeon, then opened the Dr. Ala Stanford Center for Health Equity, which has been lauded by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health Rachel Levine for its equitable model of grassroots primary care, mental health and screenings.
As head of El Concilio, Philadelphia native Adonis Banegas coordinates advocacy for the city’s Hispanic population, which has tripled since 2000. Since arriving at El Concilio in 2016, Banegas, who previously worked at the Hispanic Family Center, has expanded both his organization’s political influence and its outreach as it evolves beyond its Puerto Rican roots to serve a more diverse community. Under Banegas’ leadership, El Concilio offers an array of family and parenting services, child care, educational programs, violence victim resources and job training.
Little more than a year from now, any one of these former City Councilmembers could be mayor of Philadelphia. Allan Domb, Derek Green, Cherelle Parker and Maria Quiñones Sánchez all had high-profile careers in City Hall before resigning recently to explore their chances in next fall’s mayoral election, where violent crime is expected to be among the key issues.
Among the first to announce his intentions was Green, first elected in 2015 as a moderate Democrat who has supported both business-friendly and anti-poverty measures, chairing the chamber’s finance and disabilities committees. Domb, elected the same year, is a successful and well-connected Philadelphia real estate developer who has said his top priority is public safety. The Puerto-Rico born Quiñones Sánchez, the first Latina Councilmember, hopes to do the same as mayor by advocating for more equitable prosperity and services. And Cherelle Parker, who, as the Council’s Majority Leader, published a public safety plan, has worked as a lobbyist since her resignation – a transition that has raised eyebrows.
After years of involvement with the Philadelphia Bar Association, Wesley Payne currently serves as chancellor of the 220-year-old organization, which coordinates public lawyer referrals as well as workshops for its member attorneys. Payne is also a partner in the litigation department at White and Williams, where he specializes in product liability, toxic tort and negligence cases. He co-chairs White and Williams’ pro bono and public service committees, as well as chairing its diversity committee, priorities that he brings to his work at the Bar Association.
For viewers nationwide, Sheryl Lee Ralph is Barbara Howard on “Abbott Elementary,” the ABC sitcom about a Philadelphia public school for which Ralph won a 2022 Emmy Award. But for locals, Ralph is the first Lady of Pennsylvania’s 7th state Senate district in Philadelphia: Her husband is longtime state Sen. Vincent Hughes. Ralph was a 1982 Tony award nominee for the Broadway musical "Dreamgirls,” has starred in numerous films and TV shows and is a longtime AIDS activist.
In 2021, at a moment when nonprofits were reeling from the pandemic, Michael Balaban was hired to bring his fundraising and organizational expertise to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. He is tasked with bolstering revenue for a Jewish community roughly comparable in size to that of Boston – around 283,000 – but whose fundraising has historically fallen far short of peer cities. Balaban is known for his successful stints with the Jewish Federations of Broward County, Florida and Atlanta, as well as at Penn Medicine.
If you watched one of Philadelphia’s blockbuster events over the past decade, you’ve probably seen the work of Scott Mirkin. Mirkin is the industry veteran who leads ESM Productions, the company behind broadcasts from Nicki Minaj’s Brazil show to the Welcome America! Festival and the historic 2015 papal visit to Philadelphia. Mirkin, who also oversees live broadcasts for TIDAL, serves on the board of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.
Three years ago, John Zillmer returned to Philadelphia to become CEO of Aramark, where he’d previously worked for two decades before leaving to take leadership positions at Univar Solutions, a chemical outfit, and Allied Waste Industries. Back at Aramark, Zillmer is bringing a global perspective to a multinational food service corporation that employs more than 280,000 Americans and provides dining and uniform services for hundreds of schools and prisons. Under Zillmer’s leadership, Aramark has stepped up its government lobbying and launched a diversity leadership initiative.
Under Gregg Caren’s watch, Philadelphia will host six NCAA championship events, the FIFA World Cup, WrestleMania, dozens of conventions and countless tourists over the next few years. Caren, who heads the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, is charged with attracting high-profile events and large-scale tourism to a city in post-pandemic economic recovery. A longtime Philadelphian, Caren assumed the role in 2020 after 20 years at ASM Global, where he worked with convention centers and destinations.
With four City Council members having resigned to explore their mayoral chances, these Democrats are ready to fill the empty seats in this November’s special election.
At-large candidates include Jim Harrity, a longtime Democratic operative who is currently political director for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, and Sharon Vaughn, a 33-year City Hall veteran who has worked for several former Councilmembers, including as chief of staff for Derek Green.
In District 7, Quetcy Lozada of Kensington was the longtime chief of staff to former council member Maria Quiñones Sánchez. Anthony Phillips, who directs several local youth programming nonprofits, is running in the 9th District, where he is the current Democratic committee person.
Judith von Seldeneck started her career as an assistant to then-U.S. Sen. Walter Mondale – so she knows something about good jobs. Von Seldeneck went on to build her Philadelphia recruitment firm, Diversified Search, into one of the top executive search firms in America, with clients including Citizens Financial Group, Meridian Bancorp and AAA MidAtlantic. She is also a founder of the Forum of Executive Women, Philadelphia’s largest association of female business leaders, and more recently spearheaded the JvS Philadelphia Fund for Women Entrepreneurs.
Attorney, entrepreneur and civic activist Michael Forman heads FS investments, the $30 billion alternative investment asset management firm he founded in 2007. In addition to overseeing five offices and a staff of 350, Forman helps lead two organizations he co-founded: the Forman Arts Initiative, a cultural platform that promotes local culture, and the Fitler Club, a private entity devoted to civic engagement. Forman is also the founding co-chair of the Philadelphia Equity Alliance and serves on the board of the Center City District Foundation.
Gerard Sweeney has been bullish on Philadelphia area real estate since the mid-1990s, when he founded Brandywine Realty Trust. In the decades since, Brandywine has evolved into a $5 billion REIT covering 24 million square feet, from suburban office parks to the Schuylkill Yards mixed-use development. Recently, Sweeney has expanded Brandywine into coworking spaces and developments in Washington, D.C. and Austin, Texas. He currently chairs the boards of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation and the Center City District Foundation.
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