15 social impact leaders we'll be following in 2017 - Generocity Philly

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Dec. 28, 2016 12:59 pm

15 social impact leaders we’ll be following in 2017

The voices we're most excited to keep up with in the new year.

Yasmine Mustafa at the 2016 Philly Geek Awards.

(Photo by Clever Girl Photography)

Let’s just jump right into it:

Here are the movers and shakers we’re excited to follow in the new year.

1. David Gould

Gould left his post as a program officer at William Penn Foundation to join Rebuild, the $500M public-private investment in Philadelphia’s parks, rec centers and libraries, as deputy director of community engagement and communications.

Community engagement is Gould’s forte, and we’ll be following along as he continues his quest to “level the playing field” for Philadelphia communities.

2. Stephanie Kim

Kim spent three years with Wharton Social Impact Initiative before moving on from her position as associate director of community strategy this past summer.

Last time we caught up with Kim, she had no plan in place and was excited to “force [her]self to take a break” and get “a lot of randomness” out of her system. Keep an eye out for Kim in 2017.

3. Akeem Dixon

Dixon moved from The Enterprise Center in West Philly to head up economic development at New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) this past July and has been on a roll ever since.

Yet, for as personally invested in making the River Wards economically equitable as Dixon is, he hasn’t left West Philly behind: Right now, he’s representing a donor interested in investing $30,000 into civic projects in the Walnut Hill and Garden Court neighborhoods along the 52nd Street corridor. More on that — and Dixon’s work with NKCDC — to come in 2017.

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4. Ceciley Bradford-Jones

Mere weeks after we published this profile on Bradford-Jones and her vision for a unified reentry community in Philadelphia, she up and left her position as executive director of Center for Employment Opportunities to lead the city’s Office of Reintegration Services (RISE).

At RISE, Bradford-Jones is in a position to try and make that vision a reality. She recently clued Generocity in to some of her immediate and long-term goals for the city office and the community at-large, and we’re excited to see how those plans play out in the new year.

5. Pedro Ramos

It’s been just over a year since Ramos began leading the Philadelphia Foundation as president and CEO, and besides the community foundation’s involvement in restructuring Philadelphia Media Network in the waking days of 2016, things have been relatively quiet in Ramos’ corner.

We’ll be watching to see what kind of activity Philadelphia Foundation gets into under Ramos in 2017.

6. Maari Porter

The Kiwi native recently returned to City Hall after two years rallying funders as executive director of Philanthropy Network. This time around, Porter will be working in Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration as director of policy and strategic initiatives and ahhh man are we excited to see what that means in 2017.

7. Rasheedah Phillips

From winning Geek Awards to getting recognition from the New York Times, it’s been a high-profile year for Phillips. We’ll be watching as the sci-fi writer/housing attorney/community organizer continues to blaze trails in 2017 — especially through Community Futures Lab in Sharswood.

8. Alex Kaplan

Kaplan left a cushy (yet beloved and meaningful) job in the tech scene with Next Fab to improve his neighborhood with South of South Neighborhood Association. First thing we’ll be looking for in 2017 is whether or not he was successful in trying to persuade social enterprise brewery Triple Bottom Brewery to open up shop in his neck of the woods.

9. Jacob Gray

Gray is one of the founding fathers of impact investing and social enterprise in Philadelphia, and he’s attacked the sector from every angle — as an investor, as an entrepreneur, as an academic and an organizer. This past September, his career came full circle when he left WSII for a job with Center City wealth management firm Threshold Group, where he’s working as managing director of impact investing.

We’re excited to see how Gray will work to bring more funders into Philadelphia’s impact investing circle in 2017.

10. Omar Woodard

What a year it was for Woodard. The North Philly native started off 2016 by axing his campaign for state senate to head up the Philadelphia branch of venture philanthropy nonprofit GreenLight Fund — and he’s not quiet about his reasons why. Since the move, Woodard has embedded himself in Philadelphia’s funding circles, rallying investments in nonprofits doing evidence-based work.

We’ll continue following Woodard in 2017 with an eye on whether or not this is the year GreenLight will be able to scale one of Philadelphia’s native nonprofits into one of the cities in its growing national network.

11. Yasmine Mustafa

The social entrepreneur and technologist basked in the limelight this year and racked up a bevy of awards and recognition — the latest being a spot on BBC’s 100 Women 2016 list. We’ll be watching to see whether or not 2017 is the year her acclaimed wearable tech startup ROAR for Good brings a product to market.

12. El Sawyer

The new year will be a big one for Sawyer and his fellow Media in Neighborhoods Group cofounder Jon Kaufman. The nonprofit has a number of projects in the pipeline for 2017 — but we’ll also be following Sawyer as he continues his Robert Rauschenberg Foundation ‘Artist as Activist’ fellowship doing reentry activism and government consulting on a federal level.

13. Tess Hart

Hart, who cofounded the aforementioned Triple Bottom Brewery,  is Philadelphia’s newest high-profile social entrepreneur. Keep an eye out for further developments from the social enterprise, specifically where they’ll open up shop, which nonprofits they’ll partner with and how their jobs program for homeless individuals and returning citizens shapes up before launching in summer of 2017.

14. Jamie Gauthier

Gauthier left her job leading Sustainable Business Network earlier this month after years of successfully organizing sustainable businesses and advocating for local sustainable business policies like the city’s expansion of Sustainable Business Tax Credits program. We’re excited to see what kind of work she’ll be doing in her new post at Fairmount Park Conservancy.

15. Simran Sidhu

The youth development pro is moving into a “different type” of job after 21 years with charter school YouthBuild. Earlier this year, Sidhu was tapped by Joanna Berwind Creamer, daughter of the late Philly businessman Charles Berwind, to lead a new youth development organization as executive director. The specifics of the organization are still unclear. We’ll be watching to see how Sidhu’s fledgling organization takes shape in 2017.

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Tony Abraham

Tony Abraham is Technically Media's special projects reporter, where he regularly writes for Generocity. He's a former reporter for Technical.ly in Delaware and Philly and a Philly News Award winner for "Community Reporting of the Year." A proud native of Allentown, Pa., the Temple University alumnus calls Fishtown home.

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