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Power Moves: JoAnne Fischer is retiring from Maternity Care Coalition

JoAnne Fischer of Maternity Care Coalition. September 11, 2017 Category: ColumnFeaturedLongPeople


Editor's note: The nature of the JoAnne Fischer Fund for Advocacy has been clarified. (9/12, 1:45 p.m.)

Power Moves is a semi-regular column chronicling leadership movements within Philly’s social impact community. Send announcements to

1. JoAnne Fischer is wrapping up 28 years at Maternity Care Coalition.

Fresh off a merger with Bucks County nonprofit Child, Home and Community, the longtime executive director of the maternal and child health nonprofit is publicly announcing her retirement this week. Fischer began talks about her exit a year ago and informed staff, funders and volunteers in July.

Why now? Echoing the likes of NKCDC ED Sandy Salzman, who retired last year after 21 years, Fischer said during a phone interview that it’s just time. She’s seen the staff grow from three to over 150, and the budget grow from a hundred-thousand to several million dollars and feels that the organization is in a good place to handle big change. Plus, she has two new grandkids she’d like to spend time with.

“This is a 24/7 job and I’ve been doing this a long time. I’m tired,” she laughed.

JoAnne Fischer of Maternity Care Coalition.

(Courtesy photo)

The nonprofit is also in the midst of completing a new strategic plan with the Praxis Group as well as a leadership reorganization, with a strengthening of the executive bench. A deputy director position was split into two executive roles, VP of external affairs and VP of programs, and two positions were promoted to executive level, VP of human resources and VP of finance and administration.

“We’re doing a lot of work to launch the future,” said Fischer, who will stay on until this January.

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An interim ED will be hired by the end of the year, with the hopes that a permanent executive director will be in place by January 2019. That succession and search committee will be led by immediate past board president Leanne Wagner, who recently led the search for Oberlin College’s new president.

Before she leaves, Fischer said she hopes to finish to MCC’s strategic plan and expand its work in providing support to “opioid-involved” pregnant women, as well as continue her advocacy of improving legislation for federal home visiting programs, such as MCC’s Early Head Start, and similar causes.

The nonprofit is also launching a fund in her name: the JoAnne Fischer Fund for Advocacy, meant to benefit MCC’s ongoing policy work calling for health-related systems reform.

2. American Friends Service Committee hired Joyce Ajlouny as its general secretary.

Ajlouny, a Palestinian-American Quaker who most recently served as the director of the Ramallah Friends School in Palestine, started in the top leadership role on Sept. 1. She takes over from seven-year head Shan Cretin and has spent 14 years working in international development.

The international headquarters of the peace-promoting nonprofit is at Philly’s Friends Center, 15th and Cherry streets.

Joyce Ajlouny. (Courtesy photo)

Joyce Ajlouny. (Courtesy photo)

3. Allie Ilagan is leaving Wharton Social Impact Initiative for the unknown.

The communications pro and Philly Geek Awards co-organizer is leaving the social enterprise research hub without another job lined up — on purpose. (Reminds us of another recent Power Mover, Justin Trezza.)

Here’s what she wrote in an email:

“I’m very excited to be taking this (big, scary) step forward. The short answer is that it’s just a good time for a transition. The funny answer is that I read Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes” and decided to stop second-guessing myself. My plans after Wharton are to focus on consulting projects and additional training in content strategy for the next few months until Mikey [Ilagan] and I welcome our second child. I’ll be taking some time off to focus on being a parent of two (!!!), and then searching for my next role.”

<em>Allie Ilagan (in gold) with the Black and Brown Workers Collective at the 2017 Philly Geek Awards. (Photo by Dominique Nichole Photography)</em>

Allie Ilagan (in gold) with the Black and Brown Workers Collective at the 2017 Philly Geek Awards. (Photo by Dominique Nichole Photography)

4. NKCDC hired three VISTA volunteers and has a new director of economic development.

The Kensington-based community development corporation announced recently it had hired each of its 2016 AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers:

  • Shawn Sheu, formerly a community engagement VISTA and now a communications associate
  • Brian Green, formerly an organizational advancement VISTA and now a commercial corridor coordinator
  • Kelli Walsh, formerly an economic development VISTA and now a commercial corridor coordinator

Another former VISTA? Kae Anderson, who served from 2013 to 2014 and was recently named director of economic development following Akeem Dixon’s August departure from the organization.

Executive Assistant Debbie Kinkead was also a VISTA from 1991 to 1992.

5. Penn LGBT Center has a new director.

Longtime Director Bob Schoenberg announced his retirement from leading one of the country’s oldest college LGBT centers this summer and will officially step down on Sept. 12, exactly 35 years from his start date. Succeeding him is Erin Cross, Penn LGBT center’s senior associate director, who has worked at the center for nearly 20 years.

On Oct. 14, the center’s location will be renamed the Robert Schoenberg Carriage House. Penn was recently named one of the 25 most LGBTQ-friendly colleges in the county by Campus Pride.


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