Jeremy Nowak passed away on Saturday following complications from a heart attack. He was 66.
The self-described “strategic advisor, author and columnist” founded community development financial institution Reinvestment Fund in 1985, which in the past 32 years has deployed $1.9 billion into local communities, helping finance diverse projects from high-quality grocery stores and affordable housing to schools and health centers.
Nowak was also a serial board member: He has chaired the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Mastery Charter Schools, The Philadelphia Citizen (where he also kept a column) and Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, as well as served on the board of the University City Science Center and others over the past few decades.
Most recently, he worked as president of his own J Nowak Strategy and New Localism Advisors and as the William Penn Foundation’s president from 2011 to 2012. In 2017, he coauthored the book “The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism” with Bruce Katz.
In an emailed statement, impact investing advocacy org ImpactPHL called Nowak a “champion of the movement and a trusted advisor.”
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“Jeremy was a moral conscience for our city and its leadership,” the statement reads. “He held everyone accountable for being their best selves. At a time when so many serious problems need to be solved, we need more people like Jeremy helping us find our way.”
Former Science Center head Stephen Tang told Technical.ly Philly that Nowak’s passing is “a tremendous loss for our city and community.”
“He was unique in his ability to transcend the commercial, social and civic arenas,” Tang said. “In fact one could say that his career as a commercial and social entrepreneur (by founding The Reinvestment Fund and scaling it into prominence), followed by his recent roles as a civic entrepreneur (through his writings and Philadelphia Citizen) made him the quintessential systems thinker and thought leader for our community. He knew ‘how the dots connect’ for profound positive impact.”
Archna Sahay, who left her position as director of entrepreneurial investment with the City of Philadelphia to join Nowak’s consulting group last June, called him a “confidant, mentor, advisor, friend.”
“He had such a curiosity for all things and he was larger than life. He poured everything he had into this city, his work and his loved ones. I had never met anyone like him,” she told Technical.ly.
Reinvestment Fund published a statement on Monday about Nowak’s legacy within the organization. Read it here.
My dear friend Jeremy, we left too many conversations unfinished, certain there would be a next time. I miss you very much.
— Archna (@ArchnaSahay) July 29, 2018
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