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Power Moves: Eagles Autism Challenge scored its first director

Ryan Hammond. January 23, 2018 Category: FeaturedLongPeople

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

1. Ryan Hammond is Eagles Autism Challenge’s new ED.

The former executive director of Saint Joseph’s University’s Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support has been named the head of the Eagle’s walk/run/bike ride to raise money for autism research, happening for the first time on May 19. Autism is one of the Eagles Charitable Foundation’s core focus areas.

Hammond worked previously as Saint Joseph’s director of major gifts and special projects and in the Eagles’ premium services and events department.

The Neumann College grad’s “visionary leadership, passion and philanthropic approach align perfectly with what we stand for as a team and what we seek to accomplish in the field of autism,” said Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie in a statement.

“I am excited to join the Eagles Autism Challenge and contribute to a landmark event that works to strengthen the quality of life for families and individuals touched by autism,” Hammond said. “I am also inspired by Jeffrey’s commitment to create a shift from autism awareness to action.”

Last week, ahead of the team’s winning NFC Championship game, Eagles Autism Challenge hosted a matching gift drive and raised its target goal of $25,000 within one day.

Go Birds.

2. School District of Philadelphia’s board nominating panel has been announced.

Following the self-dissolution of the School Reform Commission (SRC), Philly’s public school system has been taking a good, hard look at itself and wondering what’s next.

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To help answer that question, Mayor Jim Kenney has appointed 13 community members and education leaders to a nominating panel tasked with recommending 27 others for the mayor to consider placing on a new Board of Education.

Per, these are the nominating panel members:

  • Kendra Brooks — District parent, restorative justice instructor and member of Parents United for Public Education
  • Bonnie Camarda — Director of partnerships for Salvation Army of Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware
  • Patrick Eiding — President of Philadelphia Council, AFL-CIO
  • Dan Fitzpatrick — President of Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware
  • Jamie Gauthier — Executive director of Fairmount Park Conservancy and district parent
  • Peter Gonzales — CEO of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
  • Derren Magnum — President of C.W. Henry Elementary School PTA and associate director of institutional giving for Opera Philadelphia
  • Barbara Moore WilliamsCheyney University professor and educational consultant
  • Stephanie Naidoff — Former Philadelphia commerce director and city representative
  • Ivy Olesh — Executive director of Playworks, district parent and founding member of Friends of Chester Arthur
  • Kimberly PhamTemple University student and activist
  • Wendell PritchettUniversity of Pennsylvania provost and former SRC member
  • Sean Vereen — President of Steppingstone Scholars

3. Girl Develop It Philly gained a second chapter leader.

The women-in-tech nonprofit picked Nieman, a technical project manager and GDI instructor, to help Philly chapter leader Jen Dionisio head up local operations. Dionisio had taken over from Elise Wei in July.

“In 2018, priorities include expanding our venue partnerships in order to offer more classes, getting the community more involved through additional volunteer opportunities, diversifying the communities we reach with our classes, and continuing to streamline operations internally,” Nieman told Philly.

Dorothy Johnson-Speight. (Courtesy photo)

4. Maternity Care Coalition will honor Mothers in Charge founder Dorothy Johnson-Speight.

Johnson-Speight will receive the Spirit of Motherhood Award at the maternal and child health advocacy nonprofit’s 14th annual Celebrating Mothers Brunch on Feb. 24 for her work with the violence prevention advocacy nonprofit.

According to a release, the award honors “an individual or organization working to promote maternal and child health and wellbeing who has made a significant difference in the lives of pregnant women and families in a unique and extraordinary way.” 

Previous award winners include The W.K. Kellogg FoundationKristen Rowe-Finkbeiner of MomsRising, Dr. Priya Agrawal of Merck for Mothers and MCC’s now-outgoing executive director, JoAnne Fischer.

5. Pennsylvania Council on the Arts announced its new ED.

Karl Blischke, formerly the director of the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s Division of Strategic Business Development, will take the helm of the state arts agency. He previously worked as PCA’s program director from 2000 to 2009, overseeing programming and grantmaking across Pennsylvania.

Blischke succeeds Philip Horn, who is retiring after 25 years as the longest-serving executive director of the agency’s history.

Meryl Levitz. (Photo by R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia)

6. Meryl Levitz is stepping down from Visit Philly by the end of the year.

The founding president and CEO of 21 years will leave the tourism marketing agency in 2018, she announced last week. She will stay on until a new leader has been transitioned on and did not announce her own professional next steps.

According to a release, Visit Philadelphia has contributed to the region’s 101 percent growth in “overnight leisure visitation” in the past 20 years, from 7.3 million in 1997 to 14.7 million in 2016.

“We have a lot of momentum, a series of wins and recognition in the city, region and country,” Levitz told Philadelphia magazine. “I wouldn’t leave it if it were a mess.”

In Summer 2016, the agency released a virtual reality platform through which prospective viewers can explore Philadelphia landmarks online.


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