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Power Moves: Education policy pro Ami Patel Hopkins is now a … teacher resident?

Ami Patel Hopkins. July 9, 2018 Category: ColumnFeaturedLongPeople


Correction: Ami Patel Hopkins' kindergarten transition fellow position was with the School District of Philadelphia, not the Kenney administration. (7/9, 2:12 p.m.)

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

1. Ami Patel Hopkins is heading back to the classroom.

From May 2016 to June 2018, Patel Hopkins served as the School District of Philadelphia’s (SDP) kindergarten transition fellow, where she helped determine best practices for improving the school entrance process for Philly’s youngest learners. Before that, she worked for Mayor Michael Nutter for more than five years as a policy advisor and the deputy education officer. Before that, though, she was a first-grade teacher.

Now, she’s a 2018-2019 teacher resident at Drexel University’s School of Education in partnership with the school district, where she’ll spend the next 12 months learning how to … be a teacher.

Huh? Why make this change that could, to some, seem like a step backward?

Well, the education policy pro wrote in an email, she left the classroom in the first place “to advocate for family, student, and educator voice in decision-making,” and she did that in the Office of Education and the school district, as well as a two-year stint as Philadelphia Education Fund’s VP of teaching, learning and innovation.

“Through my position as the Kindergarten Transition Fellow at the SDP, I met hundreds of families and saw what happens inside several of our elementary schools,” she said:

“As a mother of a future SDP student, my husband and I have become very involved with the neighborhood schools in Northwest Philadelphia and I am excited by the momentum of families and community members. I left my position at the SDP with a lot of hope for the SDP and with the lens of wanting our families to have whatever they need to have access to the best education option for their child. This has informed my next step professionally of returning back to the classroom as part of the Philadelphia Teacher Residency Program. In my 10 years of working in education in Philadelphia, I have learned a lot of how different systems work and I cannot wait to share this knowledge with my school community!”

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2. Kevin Moran is leaving Fairmount CDC for Northern Liberties …

Kevin Moran. (Photo via

Moran has been in leadership role at the community development corporation that serves the area bounded by Girard and Fairmount avenues, Fairmount Park and Eastern State Penitentiary since July 2015. In 2016, he led its research project “Healthy Corridors, Healthy Neighborhoods,” a report meant to discern the viability of its two main commercial corridors using publicly available demographic and local employment data.

His new role is ED of the newly formed Northern Liberties Business Improvement District.

“It was a really tough decision to leave the neighborhood CDC in which I also live, but I was really inspired by the thoughtfulness of NLBID’s steering committee,” Moran wrote in an email. “The BID model is one of collective action, and the Northern Liberties business community is enthusiastic about leveraging their resources to strengthen the neighborhood and their shared public spaces. Those resources will allow the BID to engage in some creative and high-impact work that I’m excited to sink my teeth into.

“I also have the highest respect for the Fairmount CDC board of directors, so perhaps to their chagrin, knowing the organization was in such competent hands made leaving a little bit easier as well.”

3. … and Fairmount’s new ED is Sarajane Blair.

Sarajane Blair. (Courtesy photo)

Speaking of which: Mt. Airy USA’s former managing director will start full-time at the end of July.

“Working as Managing Director at Mt. Airy USA for the last two and a half years has really pushed and honed my skills as a manager, project lead, collaborative partner, development director, IT help, all the roles one takes on as Managing Director in a mid-sized nonprofit,” she wrote in an email. “I loved my work in Mt. Airy, but when this position came across my radar it felt like a natural next step.”

Blair led the development of Mt. Airy’s entrepreneurship intiative Immigrant Innovation Hub.

4. Fairmount Park Conservancy has a new director of capital projects.

Allison Schapker. (Courtesy photo)

Allison Schapker took over the role from long-time Director Chris Dougherty in June. The architect worked for the previous eight years for Texas-based real estate development company Trinity Works, first as a design and stability manager, then director and senior director.

She also led the planning and design of Lower Venice Island, a waterfront park and stormwater management site in Manayunk, as a senior designer at Andropogon, the Philly landscape firm that recently participated in the visioning phase for FPC project Bartram’s Garden. Ongoing FPC capital projects include Centennial Commons, Hunting Park and FDR Park.

FPC has hired several new staffers in the past year, including Executive Director Jamie Gauthier.

5. Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Megan Rosenbach left for Springboard Collaborative.

The former deputy director is now director of strategic initiatives at the nonprofit that runs children’s literacy programs in Philadelphia and beyond. The Neighbors Investing in Childs Elementary founder is also a former teacher.

In an exit interview with BCGP, Rosenbach discussed, among other things, how the org’s participation in ImpactED’s Social Impact Collaborative influenced her use of metrics to track outcomes for its Bicycle Coalition Youth Cycling and other programs.

6. Food Moxie ED Jill Fink stepped down at the end of June.

Fink led the Northwest Philadelphia-based food justice nonprofit for over five years, including through a rebranding process. (It’s previous name was Weavers Way Community Programs.)

The former Mugshots Coffee owner wrote in an email that she would be taking a professional break to “reflect on what I’d like to do next. I know I’ll continue to do social impact work in some capacity, though I’m ready to explore opportunities that exist outside of the nonprofit sector.”

Board chair Tim Clair will serve as interim executive director, and former chair Laura Siena will rejoin the board as its interim head.

Jill Fink (left) and Interim ED Tim Clair (right) at Food Moxie’s 2018 Hoedown. (Photo via

7. SustainPHL announced its 2018 nominees.

Green Philly’s annual awards event is coming up on Aug. 16. Here’s who’s up for honors:

  • Sustainability Mentor — Damali Rhett, Diane OFee-Powers, Matthew Fritch
  • #FuturePHL — Tiara Clark, Diamond Park, Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Patrick Morgan
  • Climate Hero — Sarah Wu, Climate & Urban Systems Partnership, Meenal Raval
  • Sustainable Communities — Energy Coordinating Agency, Bartram’s Garden, Riverbend Environmental Education Center
  • Impact Business Leader — Circle Compost, Cycles PHL, Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants LLC
  • Social Impact — Ken Weinstein, Jill Fink, Reinvestment Fund
  • Business Innovation — Hungry Harvest, MIO Culture, Philly Microgreens
  • Activist OTY — Flora Cardoni, Gabriella Paez, Kelly Offner
  • Neighborhood Champ — Tommy Joshua, Judith Robinson, Sandi Vincenti, Raymond Gant

8. LBGTQ activist Giana Graves received the Philadelphia Magis Award.

Giana Graves. (Courtesy photo)

On Independence Day, Mayor Jim Kenney honored the transgender youth activist during the city’s Celebration of Freedom Ceremony for her work “to train housing and social-service providers on best practices when working with LGBTQ youth,” according to a release.

Graves has helped shape curriculum for the Attic Youth Center’s Bryson Institute and was also awarded the Youth HERO Award from DVLF in 2017.

9. Wells Fargo Regional Foundation’s head is retiring in August.

Denise McGregor Armbrister has worked as ED of the bank’s philanthropic arm, which operates in Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, for nearly two decades.

“I had the opportunity to really help shape how the foundation was going to move forward and how it was going to work to keep its mission of improving the lives of children and families living in low-income communities in this region,” she told The Philadelphia Tribune.

Armbrister is leaving Philadelphia to join her husband, Clay Armbrister, in Charlotte, where he works as president of Johnson C. Smith University.

10. Kate Hagedorn is leaving the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia to get her MBA.

Kate Hagedorn. (Courtesy photo)

The director of civic affairs will join the full-time program at The Wharton School this fall “with an eye towards social impact,” she wrote in an email.

“In my 4+ amazing years at the Chamber, I have been able to work with many business leaders who use their organizations to benefit the surrounding communities,” Hagedorn said.

“With that, I realized that I wanted to add to my own toolbox in order to become a better leader and be in a similar position one day — so becoming more familiar things like finance, operations and entrepreneurship seemed like the right path. And where better to do that than at Wharton in the city I love so much?!”


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