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Power Moves: Ajeenah Amir is now director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement

Ajeenah Amir. May 8, 2018 Category: ColumnFeaturedLongPeople


Update: This story has been updated to reflect that Laiza Santos' leave from Mural Arts is temporary. (5/8, 4:37 p.m.)

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

1. Ajeenah Amir got Nina Ahmad’s old job at the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement.

This office oversees the City of Philadelphia’s Youth Commission, Office of Black Male EngagementCommission for Women, Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs, Millennial Advisory Committee and Mayor’s Commission on Interfaith Civic Affairs.

Amir worked most recently as deputy communications director for the city. Before that, she was the deputy press secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf and the associate state director for communications at AARP Pennsylvania. She took over the director role on May 7.

The position was left vacant in November when Nina Ahmad , whose title had been deputy mayor for public engagement, left to run for Congress in Pennsylvania’s First District as a Democrat. Following the state’s release of its newly redrawn congressional map, though, Ahmad announced she was instead running for lieutenant governor. (Psst, we at Generocity feel strongly that you should vote in next week’s primaries.)

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Other recent title changes within city government include:

  • Deanna Gamble, from chief of staff for the Mayor’s Office of Education to communications director (as of April 30)
  • Dr. Christine Piven, from chief of staff for the city’s Community and Culture portfolio to deputy chief education officer (starting May 14)

Al Motley, Jr. (Courtesy photo)

2. United Way announced its new execs.

The Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey branch of the national funder fighting intergenerational poverty has hired or promoted four new executives:

  • Chenora Burkett, VP of finance
  • Al Motley, Jr., VP of technology, systems and data
  • Julie Murphy, interim VP of corporate partnerships
  • Dr. Ruth Roberts, VP of human resources

Burkett most recently worked as the director of finance for the municipality of Norristown. Motley and Murphy, who began in their roles in January, were previously CTO for national education management company Matchbook Learning and head of North American sales operations and development for Rentokil North America, respectively. Roberts was promoted to her position from within.

Notably, two out of the four are people of color; United Way has been publicly criticized in recent months for the lack of diversity on its staff and board. Bill Golderer was hired as UWGPSNJ’s president and CEO in February and told Generocity then that he was taking the concern seriously and that the organization needed to actively expand the diversity of both its board of governors and staff: “I would like the community to know that is a personal commitment of mine.”

3. These Philly women won at the 2018 Rad Awards.

The Philly Tech Week mainstay returned for its fourth year with a new slew of honorees, including these women working in the local social impact community:

  • Innovator of the Year — Tiffanie Stanard, founder and CEO of Stimulus
  • Nonprofit of the Year — Deborah Diamond, president of Campus Philly
  • Storyteller of the Year — Lara Witt, managing editor of Wear Your Voice
  • Activist of the Year — Elicia Gonzales, executive director of Women’s Medical Fund

See the full list of winners here.

Heather Weiss Frattone.

Heather Weiss Frattone. (Courtesy photo)

4. Heather Weiss Frattone will replace Ina Lipman at Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia.

Weiss Frattone joined the $11.4 million nonprofit, which funnels scholarship funds to low-income students so they can attend private schools in Philadelphia, from University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she worked most recently as associate dean for student and professional engagement. Her first day was April 3.

Lipman announced her plans to leave the organization after 16 years in October 2017, citing a desire to continue her work in educational advocacy, though at the time she had no specific plan for next steps.

According to a press release, Lipman will stay on for the next few months to aid in the leadership transition.

5. Nationalities Service Center will honor two champions of immigrants at its Global Tastes gala.

The annual fundraiser will celebrate two of the immigrant- and refugee-serving nonprofit’s supporters on May 22. According to a press release:

  • Sozi Pedro Tulante, the City of Philadelphia’s former solicitor and a refugee once sponsored by NSC, will receive the Nationalities Service Award “to honor his incredible contributions to the immigrant and refugee communities of Philadelphia.”
  • Stacy Wyn Sarno, ecommerce company WebLinc’s director of community engagement and refugee hiring initiative, will receive the Margaret Harris Award for having “rallied her colleagues to support of NSC as both donors and volunteers.”

6. Laiza Santos is leaving Mural Arts for six months to help Gov. Wolf’s reelection campaign.

The media strategist left her post as social media and marketing manager, where she worked as the “narrative brain” of the nonprofit’s comms team, at the end of April to become deputy digital director for the campaign for the next six months.

“I made the switch because it was a great opportunity to diversify my craft and give myself the opportunity to push myself to a higher level in my career,” Santos wrote in an email. “It’s empowering to be a major part in a campaign that will have a national spotlight and to a part of the communication behind that is exciting.”

Laiza Santos. (Courtesy photo)

7. GreenLight Fund Philadelphia picked nine new Selection Advisory Council members.

The venture philanthropy nonprofit led by Omar Woodard announced an incredibly impressive list of advisors ahead of its 2018-2019 investment cycle:

  • Marc Singer, managing partner of Osage University Partners
  • Sean Coleman, chief credit officer of FS Investments
  • Uva Coles, VP of advancement and strategic partnerships of Peirce College
  • Indivar Dutta-Gupta, co-executive director of the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality
  • Umi Howard, director of the Lipman Family Prize at Penn’s Wharton School
  • Rohit Mehrotra, managing director of JP Morgan Chase
  • Naledi Nyahuma, director of the Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation
  • Andy Rachlin, managing director of lending and investment of Reinvestment Fund
  • Dr. David Rubin, cofounder of PolicyLab at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Dalila Wilson-Scott, SVP of community investment of Comcast Corporation and president of the Comcast Foundation

The council will choose the org’s forthcoming funding focus areas. In the past, it’s funded the Center for Employment Opportunities, Parent-Child Home Program and Year Up.

Patricia Smith. (Courtesy photo)

8. Reinvestment Fund’s Patricia Smith will lead the international Funders’ Network.

The current senior policy advisor has been named president and CEO of the Miami-based Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, a convening nonprofit of more than 170 foundations in the U.S. and Canada.

She will take over on July 2. Before her eight-year advisory role at Reinvestment Fund, Smith worked as its director of special initiatives.

9. LISC Philly’s Dana Hanchin is leaving to lead a Lancaster housing nonprofit.

The local Local Initiative Support Corporation’s deputy director is heading to Housing Development Corp. MidAtlantic to work as its president and CEO. Before LISC, she worked as director of neighborhood stabilization at the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.

Hanchin will replace Michael Carper, who is stepping down in June after 15 years with HDC MidAtlantic.

Jay Steinberg. (Courtesy photo)

10. Jay Steinberg is The Kolbe Fund’s new ED.

The five-year-old, Exton-based nonprofit funds travel for families whose children are receiving medical care.

Steinberg previously worked as senior leadership philanthropy officer at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, CEO of the Jewish Federations of Reading and Harrisburg and chief development officer of the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas.

The Kolbe Fund also hired founding board member Ellen Cordes as its program manager.

11. Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians hosted its 2018 Solas Awards.

The immigrant-serving nonprofit held its annual awards ceremony and fundraiser on May 3. Here’s who got props:

  • Dennis Clark Solas Award — Outgoing University City Science Center President and CEO Stephen Tang, “for his leadership in highlighting the role of immigrants as innovators and assets that are moving Philadelphia and America forward”
  • Realizing the American Dream Award — Penn professor and Chair of Psychiatry Maria Oquendo, who is also an immigrant from Spain and the first Latina president of the American Psychiatric Association, “for using her hard work, talent, and passion to advance the field of psychiatry, both nationally and globally”
  • Atlas Award for Advancing Opportunity — Wells Fargo, accepted by VP of Community Relations Tiffany Tavarez, “for their commitment to strengthening the region’s economy through charitable investments and their dedicated employees who volunteer their time, talent, and treasure to help immigrants succeed”

Sarah Steltz. (Courtesy photo)

12. University City District hired Sarah Steltz from Drexel University.

The former director of workforce and economic inclusion for Drexel’s University and Community Partnerships program joins the economic development nonprofit as its new VP of workforce solutions this month. Steltz will oversee UCD’s West Philadelphia Skill Initiative job training program.

The position was formerly owned by Sheila Ireland, who left in the fall to become the Rebuild initiative’s deputy director for diversity and inclusion; she now works as the Office of Workforce Development’s ED.

13. Philly announced its new Board of Education.

After many months of speculation and rounds of narrowing down finalists, the city-appointed nominating panel has selected the nine members of its inaugural post-School Reform Commission (SRC) school board:

  • Chris McGinley, coordinator for and professor at the Educational Leadership Program at Temple University, former Philadelphia public school teacher, principal and district-level administrator, and mayoral appointee to the SRC
  • Joyce Wilkerson, former Community Legal Services attorney, former chief of staff for Mayor John Street, former ED of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, board member at the Merchant Fund, Scribe Video Center, Brandywine Workshop and Committee of Seventy and current mayoral appointee to the SRC
  • Angela McIverHow I Decide board member, former public school teacher and former director of Upward Bound at both Penn and Temple
  • Mallory Fix Lopez, former ESL teacher in Philadelphia public schools, former ESL director and program founder at the Garces Foundation and professor at the Community College of Philadelphia
  • Maria McColgan, former Philadelphia public school teacher, healthcare professional and founding chairperson of Prevent Child Abuse
  • Lee Huang, SVP and principal at Econsult Solutions and member of the Philadelphia Water Rate board
  • Julia Danzy, social worker and former deputy commissioner for children services in the Philadelphia Department of Public Health
  • Leticia Egea-Hinton, social worker, former assistant managing director for the Office of Supportive Housing and board member of Trinity Health/Nazareth Hospital
  • Wayne Walker, president of Walker Nell Partners, Inc.


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