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Power Moves: Gayle Isa is leaving Asian Arts Initiative in June

Gayle Isa. February 16, 2018 Category: ColumnFeaturedLongPeople

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

1. Gayle Isa is leaving her founding executive director role at Asian Arts Initiative this summer.

As AAI’s 25th anniversary approaches, Isa has announced her plans to leave the organization by the end of June. Director of Development and Communications Julia Shaw has been promoted to deputy director to oversee operations while Isa focuses on the transition.

Isa is also a council member of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a commission member of the Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs. She wasn’t ready to share details about her post-departure plans with Generocity but wrote in a farewell letter on AAI’s website:

“After 25 years, now is a good time for me to move on to a new endeavor. And now is a good time for Asian Arts Initiative. We have a strong and committed staff and board to lead the organization, and a recently adopted strategic plan and refined mission statement that re-commits us to working through the lens of racial equity and social justice. …

“I am looking forward to celebrating our 25th anniversary, and remaining a friend and supporter as the organization and I continue into the next phase of our futures.”

Read her letter as well as a letter from AAI’s board here. Interested in becoming AAI’s new ED? Check out the job description here.

Shira Hodges. (Courtesy photo)

2. Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia hired Shira Hodges as its first director of leadership and advancement.

Hodges joined the region’s convener of funders this week after working as program director for Paoli-based, international philanthropic consulting firm Geneva Global for seven years. There, she led major projects such as South India’s Freedom Fund fighting modern-day slavery, as well as disaster relief efforts following the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak and the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

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In her newly created role, Hodges will oversee funder groups, recruit new members and support Philanthropy Network’s leadership development initiatives.

Two other Philanthropy Network staffers have new job titles: Theresa Jackson is now the director of learning and knowledge management, from director of member services and information, and Amy Seasholtz is now the director of communications and policy, from director of communications.

3. Women in Transition just added six women to its board.

The domestic violence nonprofit has picked six new board members:

  • Issani Bradshaw, assistant controller at the National Philanthropic Trust
  • Michelle Davis, public health program analyst supervisor at the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services
  • Tesia Lemelle, program manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
  • Annette Saggiomo, manager of brand and marketing strategy at Finch Brands
  • Mandy Santiago, corporate and foundation officer at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Marta Sicinska, freelance illustrator and artist and formerly the director of community engagement at the Philadelphia Women’s Center

Hilary Rhodes. (Courtesy photo)

4. William Penn Foundation named Hilary Rhodes as its new director of evaluation and learning.

The Philly funder of education, arts and culture and watershed protection hired Rhodes to its leadership team to oversee the development of “a new internal evaluation and learning program for the foundation, which will promote and support the foundation’s strategic use of evaluation to improve the effectiveness of its grantmaking across all focus areas,” according to a statement.

Rhodes previously worked as a senior research and evaluation officer at The Wallace Foundation in New York City.

This past fall, William Penn also hired Judilee Reed as director of its Creative Communities funding priority.

5. Living Beyond Breast Cancer picked seven new board members.

The Bala Cynwyd-based breast cancer support nonprofit named seven Philly-area professionals to its board last month:

  • Janet Marie Doherty, founder of Preserving the Love and associate of Dechert LLP (Philadelphia)
  • Ellen F. Evans, president and founder of Evans Pharma Consulting LLC (Havertown)
  • Dr. Jennifer Fiss (Philadelphia)
  • Marilyn Frank, psychotherapist (Philadelphia)
  • Felicia S. Johnson (Philadelphia)
  • Megan Rutt, consultant with B&B Structured Finance (Wyndmoor)
  • Robert Stiles, VP of business development at The Haverford Trust (West Chester)

Caleb Arnold with Krasner. (Courtesy photo)

6. DA Larry Krasner named Caleb Arnold as the office’s first immigration counsel.

Arnold has been appointed to advise the district attorney’s office on “best practices to protect the rights of immigrants interacting with the criminal justice system,” according to a statement.

“I am so excited for this opportunity to help develop systematic changes that recognize the collateral consequences to someone’s immigration status as we determine just outcomes,” Arnold said. “I am also eager the build alliances and trust with immigrant communities in Philadelphia, and develop policy and practices so that all witnesses and victims are able to safely get the help they need and safely participate in the criminal justice process.”

7. Mazzoni Center announced its 2018 Peter Mazzoni Award Recipients.

The LGBTQ health center’s 2018 gala, to be held May 19, will honor three individuals who embody “compassion, determination, generosity, an unrelenting courage, a commitment to serving others, and respect for all”:

  • Dr. Rachel Devine, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of health and physician general
  • Lee Fulton Carson, social worker and former interim executive director for The COLOURS Organization
  • Egypt Staley, student and public health advocate at The New School’s Student Health Services

Ebony Staton Weidman. (Courtesy photo)

8. Ebony Staton Weidman is Sen. Bob Casey’s new Southeast regional director.

Staton Weidman comes to Casey’s Philadelphia office following two years as assistant director of marketing at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business and several years in other strategic marketing roles. She also serves on the boards of Community Integrated Services and Wissahickon Charter School, as well as Campus Philly’s Corporate Advisory Council and the advisory board of Get Hype Philly.

In her new role, which she started in January, she acts as Casey’s liaison to government, community, business and constituent groups and leaders. 

“I’m pleased to welcome Ebony to the Casey team,” the senator said. “Her deep roots in the region through her civic, government, and nonprofit experience provide our Southeastern operation a fresh understanding of the successes and challenges facing Philadelphia and its suburbs. Her insight as a dedicated and active member of the community make her an invaluable asset to our staff.”

9. Philadelphia Futures just added a slew of new leaders to its board.

The college prep nonprofit picked the following to join its board:

Susan Elko. (Courtesy photo)

10. Chester County Fund for Women and Girls will honor nonprofit pro Susan Elko.

The grantmaker that also runs the teen empowerment program Girls Advisory Board will celebrate one of that program’s cofounders at its annual Making a Difference Luncheon this May 4.

Elko will receive the Kitchen Table Award, established in 2011 “to honor a Chester County woman who has made substantive contributions through service and/or philanthropy to improve the lives of women and girls through her own time, talent or resources,” for her 30 years of nonprofit leadership in special education, educational consulting and policy development. She is also a former CCFWG board member.

11. Sustainable Business Network has five new board members.

The network’s members voted at January’s annual meeting to elect five new professionals to its board:

Joanna Otero-Cruz in her office.

Joanna Otero-Cruz in her office. (Photo by Emily Scott)

12. Joanna Otero-Cruz is ACCT Philly’s new board chair.

The deputy managing director of the city’s community services cabinet has replaced Deputy Managing Director for Community and Culture David Wilson as ACCT board chair following recent concerns from the public about ACCT’s “fiscal and operational standing.”

ACCT, the region’s largest animal care and control service provider, is contracted by the City of Philadelphia to manage 23,000 animals at its shelter in North Philadelphia.


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