Power Moves: 12+ founder Ray John is an M. Night Shyamalan Foundation 'leader' - Generocity Philly

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Feb. 11, 2019 12:30 pm

Power Moves: 12+ founder Ray John is an M. Night Shyamalan Foundation ‘leader’

Plus, Keep Philadelphia Beautiful's next ED comes from United By Blue, United Way of Chester County picked a new CEO and a bunch of other leadership changes in Philly social impact.

Ray John.

(Screenshot via Vimeo)

Editor's note: A lot has changed for local nonprofits, city agencies and the like since my last Power Moves column in December. Look for another entry in the next few days with even more leadership announcements! -jz

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


1. Ray John is getting international props from a local celebrity.

The CEO and founder of education nonprofit 12+, which prepares high school students to enroll in post-secondary education, was named a “leader” for the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation’s 2018 award cycle.

Shyamalan, who lives in a western Philadelphia suburb and is known for twist-y thrillers such as “The Sixth Sense” and the recently released “Glass,” has been running his Newtown Square-based foundation since 2001 to support nonprofit professionals working to advance causes like economic development, education and community empowerment.

The org “selects emerging leaders around the world and offers both mentorship and financial support for the projects and organizations they respectively lead,” John wrote in an email. “After a careful vetting process, the foundation decided to welcome me as their newest leader this past summer. Once selected, the foundation works with us to prepare a plan on how to allocate our grant funding.”

The class hasn’t been announced publicly, but other recent leaders were selected from Zambia, Kenya and Syria, said the foundation’s executive director, Danielle Wolfe.

Along with John’s title, 12+ received a grant of $50,000 that will be used toward the launch of its newest school-based site in the Kensington area, Wolfe said: “We’re very excited to be able to support their growth.”

Shyamalan himself published this video celebrating John and 12+:

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2.Congreso de Latinos Unidos’ multi-titled exec of 18 years, Dominique Bernardo, is now heading Variety, the Children’s Charity.

Dominique Bernardo. (Courtesy photo)

Bernardo became the CEO of the Delaware Valley-serving nonprofit on Jan. 21.

The executive worked most recently as Congreso’s CFO for five years, as well as interim CEO from August 2016 to February 2017 before now-leader Carolina Cabrera DiGiorgio took over.

Variety is a 2018-2019 Eagles Care nonprofit partner.

3. Nine women and trans artists are 2018 Leeway Transformation Award winners.

At the end of December, Leeway announced the winners of its annual $15,000 prize for social justice-focused artists.

The unrestricted annual award goes to women and trans artists and cultural producers in the Greater Philadelphia region “who create art for social change and have done so for the past five years or more, demonstrating a long-term commitment to social change work,” per a press release:

  • Angela-Sadio — Folk Arts and Performance Art (Germantown)
  • Bonita Elaine Taylor — Crafts and Textiles (Chester)
  • Gloria Kingcade — Folk Arts and Performance Art (North Central Philadelphia)
  • Iris Devins — Media Arts (West Philadelphia)
  • Jeannine “JBK” Kayembe — Multidisciplinary (North Philadelphia)
  • Meg Onli — Visual Arts (West Philadelphia)
  • Milena Velis — Media Arts (West Philadelphia)
  • Muthi Reed — Media Arts and Performance Art (LaMott)
  • Nuala Cabral — Media Arts (West Philadelphia)

In other Leeway news, Communications Director Denise Beek left the foundation after five years at the end of January. Her replacement has not yet been named.

4. The Foundation for Delaware County has a new CFO.

Laura DeFlavia. (Courtesy photo)

Laura DeFlavia joined the foundation in early January after working as the Pottstown Area Health & Wellness Foundation’s controller for 13 years.

“We are committed to achieving full accreditation as a community foundation from the Council on Foundations,” said President Frances Sheehan. “Laura’s experience in public accounting serving various industries including nonprofits, retail, service organizations and government entities, as well as her expertise in investment oversight will be critical in this accreditation process and the foundation’s continued growth.”

5. Keep Philadelphia Beautiful’s next ED comes from United By Blue.

Kelly Offner previously worked as the sustainability-focused social enterprise’s former head of cleanups, during which time she oversaw the removal of 1.5 million pounds of trash from U.S. waterways, per a press release.

She started on Jan. 7 and follows the footsteps of five-year executive director Michelle Feldman, who left the beautification nonprofit last summer.

“Critical for Keep Philadelphia Beautiful to fulfill its mission of convening, equipping and empowering people to use community beautification to achieve vibrant neighborhoods across the city, Kelly brings exceptional leadership experience in the areas of community cleanups, public-private partnerships, volunteerism, cause-based marketing and events planning,” said Justin Land, KPB’s board chair.

6. United Way of Chester County picked a new CEO.

Chris Saello. (Courtesy photo)

Chris Saello became the philanthropic nonprofit’s president and CEO on Jan. 1. He worked as the org’s senior VP for the previous eight years.

Saello replaces Claudia Hellebush, who announced her retirement from the United Way in September after working as its president and CEO for 15 years. He has also worked previously as the executive director of Brandywine YMCA and VP of financial development for YMCA of the Brandywine Valley.

7. Benefits Data Trust made two director-level hires.

The benefits connector hired Sang Hoon Lee as its senior director of development and Sam Rastin as its director of IT.

The former previously worked as chief development officer of poverty alleviation nonprofit LIFT, and the latter previously worked as director of software engineering at A.C. Moore Arts & Crafts. Both joined BDT at the end of November.

8. Marion Leary is Penn Nursing’s first-ever director of innovation.

The 2017 Geek of the Year awardee took on the new role, where she’s tasked with figuring out how to educate “the next generation of nurses,” at the start of 2019 after 11 years as director of innovation research for the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania.

Technical.ly Philly asked how she made the decision to go after a broader title within innovation:

“With my public health background there were a lot of things I could focus on, but because I was in resuscitation I couldn’t expand on,” Leary said. “This position allows me to be working on innovation but not have a specific topic area. Resuscitation is a very narrow field and it was coming to a point where there was only so much I could do.”

Psst, Leary is hosting a Nursing Story Slam on Wednesday at The Rotunda. Remember: Storytelling is the new support group for social impact pros.

Marion Leary celebrates her Geek of the Year win.

Marion Leary celebrates her Geek of the Year win. (Photo by Julie Zeglen)

9. Tabitha Skervin joined Earth Quaker Action Team in January.

The environmental justice group’s new campaign director comes from Women’s Medical Fund, where they worked as the abortion access nonprofit’s community mobilization coordinator for three years.

Also, EQAT’s former communications manager, Greg Holt, left last month to pursue graduate school.

10. A whole bunch of boards are gaining members …

  • Human services nonprofit Merakey added Maria Frizelle Roberts, president and CEO of MFR Consultants, to its board.
  • Ira Richards, a partner in the law firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, was named the board chair of Pathways to Housing PA.
  • PHL Diversity Board Chair Bill Wilson, founder and principal-in-charge of Synterra Ltd., stepped down last month after 17 years, and Richard Snow, senior advisor of multicultural marketing and business development at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, is taking his place.

11. … and a whole bunch of impact folks are receiving awards.

  • Greater Philadelphia Social Innovation Awards announced its 2019 winners on Jan. 25.
  • Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services and the Stoneleigh Foundation awarded nonprofit and educational consultant Kasey Thompson a Stoneleigh Fellowship to conduct the Improving Educational Outcomes for Youth in Congregate Care Project.
  • The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia will award Jami Wintz McKeon, chair of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, the 2019 Paradigm Award on March 21.
  • Maternity Care Coalition will honor Pennsylvania Department of Human Services Secretary Teresa D. Miller with the Spirit of Motherhood Award at the org’s 15th annual Celebrating Mothers Brunch on Feb. 23.
  • Two members of Community Legal Services’ Housing Unit, Managing Attorney Rasheedah Phillips and Supervising Attorney Rachel Garland, have been selected for prestigious awards: Phillips received the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award from the Barristers Association of Philadelphia in January, and Garland will be recognized by the Pennsylvania Legal Aid Network with an Excellence Award at its banquet in March.
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