There is no better time than the end of the year to offer a valedictory to the Pennsylvanians who have dedicated their careers and lives to making the commonwealth a better, safer place to live through adherence to the principles of environmentalism, sustainability and governance – in other words, to those who make a positive impact on our world.
Introducing the Impact 50, a select group of people who exemplify what it means to be a socially responsible citizens and who City & State is proud to recognize. The leaders profiled in the following pages hail from across the spectrum – business, government, nonprofits and advocacy – and exemplify the optimism and idealism that are so desperately needed to help the state and its citizens persevere through challenges like the pandemic, community crises and political factionalism.
Thank you to all who submitted nominations for this year’s Impact 50, which has been researched by City & State and written by freelance writer Hilary Danailova.
By leading human resources for Independence Health Group, Crystal Ashby can cultivate talent along with diversity. As executive vice president and chief people officer for IHG, the parent company of Independence Blue Cross, Ashby oversees employee recruitment that promotes an inclusive and innovative workplace culture. She previously spearheaded initiatives to increase Black C-suite representation as interim president and CEO at The Executive Leadership Council, a national organization of Black executives, and spent more than 20 years at BP, where she oversaw government and public affairs.
Government relations expert John Malady is a founding partner of Malady & Wooten, a 23-year-old Harrisburg lobbying firm with a presence extending to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Over the course of his career, Malady has represented clients in health care, economic development, environmental outfits, social services and the cultural sphere. Malady, who has worked to secure funding for the Weinberg Northeast Regional Foodbank and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, serves as vice chair of Communities in Schools of Pennsylvania.
Nancy Gephart makes sure big business is also responsible business. She leads the capital markets team at Shift Capital, a Philadelphia-based social impact developer with 2 million square feet of mid-Atlantic real estate and $40 million in 2022 grants and tax credits. Her projects include a recent $60 million deal together with the Philadelphia Housing Authority that created 98 affordable units, a health center and a grocery store. Gephart also spearheaded Shift Catalyst Fund, a private equity fund that partners with impact developers nationwide.
As community engagement manager at AARP Pennsylvania, Yocasta Lora advocates for public policy that promotes equitable and accessible housing, transportation, and public spaces. An example is the City of Philadelphia’s Livable Communities Action Plan, which Lora worked on to identify and counsel policymakers about urban growth that is equitable – including the city’s first legal accessory dwelling units, which create affordable housing and offset seniors’ living costs. Lora also serves on the board of the Philadelphia Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity.
Just months into his new role heading the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Luke Bernstein worked on a reform that will halve the state’s corporate net income tax by 2031, vastly improving the business climate for the 10,000 firms he represents. Bernstein, a longtime financial executive and former state GOP director who served as deputy chief of staff for then-Gov. Tom Corbett, also led efforts to oppose an unemployment compensation tax increase and to enact a regulatory framework for Pennsylvania’s lucrative autonomous vehicle industry.
At Cozen O’Connor, Katayun Jaffari co-chairs the environmental, social and governance group, advising executive teams on sustainability and DEI; she also co-chairs the firm’s capital markets and securities groups and heads its corporate governance group. As co-chair of the American Bar Association’s ESG Subcommittee, Jaffari recently co-edited “ESG in the Boardroom: A Guidebook for Directors.” She also co-chairs the Philadelphia Bar Association’s women’s rights committee and serves on the alumni leadership council of Temple University’s Center for Ethics, Diversity and Workplace Culture.
Shortly after becoming The GIANT Company’s community impact manager last year, veteran grocery retailer Jessica Groves released the company’s first-ever impact report, detailing its work on hunger, children’s issues, health and sustainability – including partnering with Empower the Bridge Foundation on a Harrisburg garden to generate 6,000 pounds of produce for families in need. Groves, who leads The GIANT Company’s corporate social responsibility efforts, oversaw the distribution of $7 million to nonprofit partners in 2022, along with the coordination of 45,000 volunteer hours.
As Buchanan’s chief of diversity and inclusion, Lloyd Freeman oversees the firm’s diversity and inclusion council and spearheads initiatives aimed at advancing its goals firm- and industry-wide through mentorship and equitable policies around attorney hiring, retention and advancement. In the community, Freeman leads Buchanan’s supplier diversity and corporate share programs, as well as key diversity partnerships with local nonprofits. He also hosts the Dimensions of Diversity podcast. Freeman was recognized with Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2022 Diversity in Business Award.
Social worker and race relations expert Chad Dion Lassiter leads the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, where he guides state-level policy around diversity, equity and inclusion. Lassiter oversees a $12 million annual budget, an 87-member staff and three regional offices devoted to promoting interracial and interethnic dialogue and social justice initiatives at colleges, workplaces and public forums. At the University of Pennsylvania, Lassiter is also co-founder and president of Black Men at Penn, the Ivy League’s first organization of Black male social workers.
Kaitlyn Maxwell is a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig in Philadelphia, where she is a member of the environmental practice group and mentors colleagues through the Greenberg Traurig Women’s Initiative. Maxwell advises clients on regulatory compliance and complex litigation, especially cases involving major environmental contamination, product liability, environmental remediation projects and corporate sustainability statements. She also co-chairs the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Environmental and Energy Law Committee and serves on the board of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia.
A respected leader on health initiatives that address poverty and inequity, AmeriHealth Caritas CEO Paul Tufano guides health care for some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents through the company’s Medicaid managed care plans. Tufano led his organization’s affiliation with Accelerate Health Equity, a public-private partnership that promotes access to health and wellness, and also serves on the board of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. He was previously an executive vice president at Independence Blue Cross.
Zach Shamberg’s grandfather is a long-term care resident, so his connection to the exigencies facing these facilities – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – is personal. As head of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association, Shamberg recently worked with state leaders and unions to negotiate a historic Medicaid reimbursement increase for nursing homes, along with legislation updating facilities’ staffing minimums and employee-resident ratios. Shamberg, a state executive member of the National Center for Assisted Living, also serves as secretary of the Pennsylvania Coalition for Civil Justice Reform.
On LinkedIn, Lisette Martinez recently posted six ways that workplaces can foster respect for diversity during the holiday season, including thoughtful decorations and limits on gift-giving. As Jefferson’s diversity chief, Martinez sets the tone for equality and inclusion throughout the university health system, promulgating initiatives and leading workplace education around diversity. Martinez serves on the boards of Project HOME, the Mann Center, the NAAAP, and the Urban League of Philadelphia.
Shelley Sylva has led TD Bank’s corporate and social responsibility strategy since 2019. As head of social impact, she spearheaded the TD Ready Commitment, which has pledged $1 billion by 2030 to promote financial security, environmental protection, community engagement and equitable health outcomes. Sylva, an attorney who previously worked for the Philadelphia Housing Authority, became the bank’s head of U.S. corporate citizenship last year, when she was also recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the Philadelphia Business Journal.
Holly Pilcavage was just 30 when she assumed leadership of Coal Creative, the Wilkes-Barre digital marketing agency she joined in 2016. At Coal Creative, Pilcavage co-founded NEPA Creative, a collective that supports creators and makers, as well as the film company Coal Lab Productions. She chairs the board of Dress for Success Luzerne County, spearheading a Women’s History Month campaign that raised $20,000 this year. Pilcavage also recently led Wilkes-Barre’s first-ever Pride parade and will be a 2022-2023 fellow at the Appalachian Leadership Institute.
While his colleagues at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development guide the growth of the Pittsburgh region, Chief Equity Officer Majestic Lane strives to ensure that no resident is left behind. Lane has a long history of public service, working in community engagement roles for several nonprofits before a five-year stint in then-Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s office. There, Lane led affordable housing and economic development efforts as deputy chief of neighborhood empowerment and, later, as the city’s deputy chief of staff and chief equity officer.
Gatherings are back at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where Director of Engagement Dominique Bonds works to ensure its expanding opportunities are equitable. She guides the Center’s diversity, equity and inclusion program, promoting equal access to subcontractor, vendor and supplier roles as well as opportunities for historically underrepresented groups, including women and minorities. Bonds has worked at the center for more than 20 years, most recently as guest experience director and, prior to that, overseeing event technology.
Stephanie Sciullo wants to make sure MSA Safety is known not only as a leader in safety products, but also in corporate citizenship. As the Cranberry-based company’s chief legal officer overseeing corporate social responsibility and public affairs, Sciullo spearheads initiatives around diversity and inclusion, environmental sustainability and talent development. Under her leadership, MSA Safety was recently recognized by Newsweek as one of America’s Most Responsible Companies, and by Forbes and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as a top workplace.
Debra Kohr Sheppard began her career as a producer with the Pennsylvania Cable Network in 1993 and, since 2020, has served as CEO of the Camp Hill nonprofit, which airs programming on politics, culture and sports. In a variety of roles over the years, Sheppard has spearheaded technology upgrades, supervised construction of the PCN facility, and led the network’s conversion to high definition and streaming. Sheppard is currently president of the board of Pennsylvania Educational Communications Systems.
Every morning since 1998, Philadelphians have woken up to the quirky patter of Preston Elliott and Steve Morrison, hosts of “The Preston and Steve Show.” Hosted since 2005 by the rock station WMMR, Elliot and Morrison chat about everything from the Thanksgiving parade to whatever ex-76ers guard Ben Simmons is up to. Along the way, they’ve recruited a substantial fan base for philanthropic initiatives like Camp Out for Hunger, a massive annual food drive, and the I Bleed for Preston & Steve Blood Drive.
Patrick Clancy heads the city workforce agency that helps 40,000 local workers annually take advantage of Philadelphia’s rebounding economy. As CEO of Philadelphia Works, Clancy oversees a $65 million budget and steers collaborations with local businesses and nonprofits to ensure the labor force aligns with their needs and with the strategic workforce plans of the city and its five-county region. Clancy, a member of the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Association, previously worked at the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.
In a town known for its universities, Malik Brown wants to see every adult clinch that degree. Brown heads Graduate! Philadelphia, a 17-year-old nonprofit that has provided one-on-one academic advising to 6,200 adults and helped 2,500 of them return to finish their college degrees. Brown previously oversaw workforce solutions and community impact for Peirce College, where he led partnerships to expand student opportunities. He serves on the boards of directors for the Economy League, Girard College and City Year.
In the congested mid-Atlantic corridor, Joseph Bollhofer knows that getting a ride isn’t just a transaction – it’s a social and communal necessity. Bollhofer is head of mid-Atlantic rides for Uber, the ride-sharing app for which he previously served as senior strategic operations manager and, prior to that, oversaw operations and logistics. As he helps facilitate rides across Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and beyond, Bollhofer uses data and analytics to improve everyone’s experience between points A and B.
Two years into her tenure as a regulatory lawyer for Duquesne Light Company, Emily Farah helped found the firm’s women’s business employee resource group. As inaugural chair, Farah promoted an inclusive culture through initiatives that have included supplying free feminine hygiene products in restrooms, hosting forums on women’s issues, developing a mentoring program, and coordinating volunteer events and fundraising campaigns. Farah, a former litigator, currently performs pro bono work for the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund’s Name Change Project.
Barbara Bowker knows that when you’re a member of a credit union, you’re not just a customer – you’re a community stakeholder. Bowker is the chief member experience officer at Harrisburg-based PSECU, Pennsylvania’s largest credit union, which serves 550,000 members. She leads marketing strategy, digital engagement and direct contact with members to ensure their experience is a positive one. Bowker, who has been with PSECU for more than 30 years, previously served as the credit union’s vice president of marketing.
Over his more than 30 years as CEO, Stanley Middleman has grown Freedom Mortgage Corporation into one of the nation’s largest independent mortgage companies. Under his leadership, Freedom Mortgage has launched numerous philanthropic initiatives, including an annual holiday toy drive and the Rucksacks to Backpacks campaign, which has donated nearly 60,000 school supplies in the past decade. Middleman also serves on the boards of Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation.
After founding FS investments, now a $30+ billion alternative investment asset management firm, Michael Forman set about giving back to his Philadelphia community. He created and leads the Forman Arts Initiative, which supports local cultural producers, as well as the private Fitler Club, an organization promoting civic engagement. Forman – whose investment firm was named one of Greater Philadelphia’s Healthiest Employers by the Philadelphia Business Journal – currently sits on the Center City District Foundation board and is the founding co-chair of the Philadelphia Equity Alliance.
As partner-in-charge of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur in Pittsburgh, Timothy Gallagher oversees a full-service law office with strong connections to its local communities. Gallagher fosters an office culture of promoting sustainability and environmental stewardship, fundraising for heart health, and pro bono service, for which the firm has received numerous accolades. Gallagher represents clients and matters including mergers and acquisitions, real estate transactions, private equity and venture capital and hospitality.
With construction rebounding across the Philadelphia region, Kristin DeFrancisco is charged with ensuring the financial strength of its major trade association, the General Building Contractors Association, whose membership comes from across Southeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Northern Maryland. DeFrancisco serves as vice president of operations and finance for the circa-1891 organization, a chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America that advocates for its more than 330 member companies and provides safety services, training and career opportunities.
There are lots of terrific health care jobs in Philadelphia – and Tierra Rich is helping young people get them. Rich has now led three successful cohorts as a success coach with Propel America, a nonprofit that combines mentorship with tuition-free training to connect recent high school graduates with jobs at Penn Medicine, Jefferson Health and other employers. A longtime school tutor, Rich currently serves on the board of the Leeway Foundation and on the School District of Philadelphia’s Parent and Community Advisory Council.
Jim Hoehn has worked at PNC Bank for over a quarter-century, where he is currently regional president for Central Pennsylvania. He serves as a liaison between the bank and local businesses and communities, working with nonprofits and civic leaders to support regional growth. A board member of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Hoehn is especially proud of PNC’s investment in opportunities for young children and is a commissioner on Gov. Tom Wolf’s Early Learning Investment Commission.
At PECO, the Philadelphia-area energy company that is a division of the Exelon Corporation, Jackie Golden oversees the strategies that will keep PECO competitive and relevant in a fast-changing energy landscape. Golden, who came to the company in 2010, is currently director of strategy. She oversees projects such as a pilot incentive program for electric vehicle charging and PECO’s small business recovery program, which provides grants to local outfits in low-income communities to offset utility costs.
CB Bhattacharya believes businesses can drive profits by highlighting their social responsibility – and has 40,000 Google Scholar citations to prove it. Bhattacharya founded and directs the Center for Sustainable Business at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business, where he is the H.J. Zoffer Chair in Sustainability and Ethics. He is the author of “Small Actions, Big Difference: Leveraging Corporate Sustainability to Drive Business and Societal Value,” and also founded the ESMT Berlin Sustainable Business Roundtable, a global forum.
Pennsylvanians will stay warm this winter thanks in part to Robert Beard. He is vice president of natural gas, global engineering and construction, and procurement for the UGI Corporation, a King of Prussia-based energy distribution company. In this role, Beard is responsible for the company’s gas and electric utility businesses, overseeing assets totaling more than $6.5 billion. Beard, who joined the company in 2008, previously directed UGI Utilities as its president and CEO.
From farm to table and everywhere in between, Sandra Sage oversees the supply chain for the Clemens Food Group, a 125-year-old operation serving the East Coast and Midwest. Sage supervises an operation committed to ethical and sustainable animal raising practices, local fundraising campaigns, and community investment – including a commitment to donating 10% of corporate profits to local nonprofits. She joined Clemens Food Group a dozen years ago and has directed the company’s business development, retail sales and market solutions.
When energy, construction and engineering companies are looking for strategic counsel, they often turn to environmental law expert Michael Zanic. Zanic is a partner in the Pittsburgh office of K&L Gates, where he litigates major environmental, product liability and insurance coverage cases, recovering more than $2 billion for policyholders. Zanic is also a board member of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Leadership Pittsburgh and the Dollar Energy Fund.
Female mentorship is central to the career of Deanna Byrne, who in 2017 was the first woman to be named managing partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ 120-year-old Philadelphia office. Byrne, who joined the global consulting firm in 1988, has led the Philadelphia Women’s Networking Circles, a PwC group established to cultivate and nurture the careers of women professionals. Byrne has spoken at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women and other forums, publicly highlighting the need for improvement in women's C-suite representation.
In 2018, as a Drexel University undergrad, Evan Ehlers resolved to use his leftover dining-hall meal swipes to feed hungry neighbors. The result was Sharing Excess, a nonprofit that is now one of Philadelphia’s largest hunger relief organizations, redirecting 10 million meals annually from local businesses to organizations that address food insecurity. Under Ehlers’ leadership, Sharing Excess partners with more than 400 grocers, wholesalers, farmers and nonprofits – including the Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market – to feed more than 250,000 people each year.
Economic development expert Lee Huang is president and principal at Philadelphia-based Econsult Solutions, a consulting firm. Huang has counseled higher education entities, including Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pennsylvania; analyzed the inclusion of minority and women-owned businesses in Philadelphia city contracts; and advised clients on environmental sustainability, economic inclusion and nonprofit management. Huang was an executive vice president at The Enterprise Center, a West Philadelphia entrepreneurial hub where he also founded a youth mentorship program.
Based in Pittsburgh, Keith Sala leads operations throughout the Americas for AECOM, the global infrastructure consulting firm behind stadiums, rail networks, wind farms, desalination plants and other major installations. Sala is charged with upholding AECOM’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship – resulting in a No. 1 ranking among Engineering News-Record’s 2020 Top 200 Environmental Firms and 2022 rankings among the Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality by the Human Rights Campaign and the World’s Most Admired Companies by Fortune.
You’ll often find DeShane Hambrick out in the community – at a Comcast retail store opening, a product launch or on a team inspecting construction projects. Hambrick oversees project management and customer experience for Comcast’s Keystone region – which comprises much of Pennsylvania, along with parts of Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland – as well as serving on Comcast’s diversity and inclusion council. Prior to this role, Hambrick directed retail sales for the region, overseeing Xfinity stores and indirect sales.
As post-pandemic tourism returns to Philadelphia, Rachel Ferguson works to attract a more diverse group of visitors than ever. Ferguson is chief innovation and global diversity officer for Visit Philadelphia, the city’s official tourism agency, where she spearheads initiatives to expand Philadelphia’s geographic and cultural markets – including successful campaigns targeting female, LGBTQ, Hispanic and Black travelers. Ferguson also oversees the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion program, ensuring a culturally appropriate welcome for every visitor.
As CEO of Temple Faculty Physicians, Dr. Claire Raab supervises 600 physicians and 550,000 annual ambulatory visits at the Temple University Health System. Raab, an internist who continues to work with residents and medical students, has won plaudits for leading TFP’s COVID-19 response: She reconfigured logistics to allow the health system to successfully manage more COVID patients than any other Philadelphia hospital, while achieving an infection rate one-third the national average. Raab also leads the telehealth group practice for the Association of American Medical Colleges.
A highly respected litigator at the Philadelphia office of Troutman Pepper, Nina Gussack is also a fellow of the firm’s Pepper Center for Public Service, which puts its senior attorneys’ skills to use on behalf of local communities. In this role, Gussack and her colleagues offer pro bono immigration assistance, work with the School District of Philadelphia on student legal matters, and assist the Committee of Seventy and other civic organizations on issues around voting rights.
After nearly 10 years at the helm of the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health, CEO Jessica Brooks is stepping down this month. Brooks, who also founded and heads EARN Staffing Solutions and the U.S. Health Desk, has expanded PBGH's health cost savings initiatives across southwestern Pennsylvania, including a nationally recognized prescription drug management program and an effort to help employers manage rising health care costs through data. In 2020, Brooks also co-founded the Executive Action and Response Network, a nonprofit that provides DEI and anti-racism training.
Entrepreneur, educator, musician and strategist Leigh Solomon Pugliano heads Pittsburgh’s Equity | Impact Center, where she spearheads initiatives to advance the work of social justice organizations who work toward equitable progress. Under Pugliano’s direction, the Center cultivates community leaders through its Transformative Leader Program and champions Black women musicians through its SCALE Fellowship. Pugliano is also the founder and director of Barrels to Beethoven, an Afro-Caribbean-oriented cultural arts organization, and is the co-founder of Limelight Creative, a music program.
Leslie Short founded The Cavu Group to help corporations, nonprofits and organizations realize their diversity, equity and inclusion goals. Drawing on her diverse corporate, ballet theater, chaplaincy and mediator backgrounds, Short helps her clients formulate equitable and sustainable strategies that benefit both employees and companies – a philosophy laid out in her recent book, “Expand Beyond Your Current Culture.” She also serves on the boards of the Kota Alliance and the Delaware Valley School for Exceptional Children in Hamilton, N.J.
During her 23 years heading the Urban Affairs Coalition, Sharmain Matlock-Turner has managed more than $1 billion in public and private funds on behalf of myriad Philadelphia-area nonprofits. Matlock-Turner, the UAC’s first female leader, oversees a staff of 500 employees who coordinate support for 80 local outfits, including social services, cultural and educational nonprofits. Matlock-Turner also guides collaborations with businesses, government entities and community organizations.
Airbnb rentals are proliferating across the Keystone State and beyond, thanks in part to the strategic vision of Michael Coppock. Coppock, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton school, joined Airbnb six years ago, holding various strategy and business affairs leadership roles before assuming his current post this past October.
As chief environmental and safety officer for American Water, Lynda DiMenna knows that clean, pollutant-free water is a civic good as well as a sound business model. DiMenna is a veteran of the H2O business, having worked for two decades at SUEZ in North America, another water company, where she directed environmental health and safety issues. In her current role at American Water, DiMenna makes sure the water coming out of Pennsylvania’s taps – Pennsylvania American Water is a subsidiary – meets national requirements.
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