1. Kira Strong is named executive director of Rebuild.
Kira Strong, who has served as interim director of Rebuild since November 2019, will become the executive director of the City’s initiative, which makes capital improvements to parks, recreation centers, and libraries — two-thirds of them in high-needs neighborhoods.
Brian Abernathy, the managing director for the City of Philadelphia announced the appointment Thursday, Jan. 2.
“Rebuild is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our communities, and the places where our kids learn, play, and grow,” Mayor Jim Kenney said in the release. “Kira has proven herself as an outstanding leader able to drive these projects forward with a sense of urgency and deep commitment to equity, inclusivity, and engagement with the communities Rebuild serves.”
According to the annual report, 2019 Rebuild by the Numbers, the Rebuild initiative (which is funded in part through the Philadelphia Beverage Tax) has work ongoing at 61 facilities, and community engagement is underway for “nine major transformation projects, representing $70 million in investment.”
Before she was tapped to lead the project, Strong served as Rebuild’s deputy director of design and construction, a post she took in 2016. “I am humbled by the opportunity to serve my city in this new capacity,” she said in the announcement. “Every community in Philadelphia deserves high-quality parks, rec centers, and libraries. I look forward to building on the great work our team is doing to deliver excellent facilities in a way that contributes to inclusive economic growth and strengthens neighborhoods.”
Prior to her work for the City, Strong served as vice president of community and economic development at the People’s Emergency Center for 12 years. There she oversaw revitalization activities in five West Philadelphia neighborhoods and implemented more than $40 million in real estate and economic developments. She has also worked for the School District of Philadelphia.
Strong holds a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College, a master’s degree from Temple University, and a nonprofit executive leadership certificate from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research.
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She has served on the board of directors of the Community Design Collaborative, the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations, and the Slought Foundation. Strong was named to Philadelphia Business Journal‘s 40 Under 40 list in 2014, and in 2011 she received the Rising Star Award from the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations.
2. Project 440’s founder and executive director Joseph Conyers is named a finalist for Lewis Prize for Music.
The national award recognizes leaders who create positive change by investing in young people through music. The finalists were selected from a field of 187, and were evaluated by music leaders, young people involved in creative youth development programs, and a review panel of experts.
“[Project 440], established in 2007, has evolved from Joseph’s experience merging his talents as a professional musician in the Philadelphia Orchestra with his passion for community service,” states the website’s announcement of the finalists.
Conyers was appointed assistant principal bassist of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2010 after tenures with the Atlanta Symphony, Santa Fe Opera, and Grand Rapids Symphony where he served as principal bass. He has served as acting associate principal bass of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2017. In addition to his leadership role at Project 440, he also serves as the music director of the School District of Philadelphia’s All City Orchestra.
If accorded one of the three prizes, the honor will recognize Project 440 along with Conyers. “P440 uses a shared love of music from any genre and the skills inherent in being a musician as the jumping-off point to strengthen identity, build community and ultimately help young people develop the competencies needed to thrive,” reports the website. “Whether the student plays the bassoon, creates electronic music, or anything in between, P440’s entrepreneurship and service curriculum provides young people with opportunities and tools for individual growth and community impact.”
In a Project 440 newsletter, Conyers shared credit with his team and offered congratulations to the other finalists.
“We are elated to be selected as a finalist for the inaugural Lewis Prize,” he said. “To be recognized for our work in music education among such laudable peers across the country is humbling. Our team at Project 440 has developed a unique approach to music education through a comprehensive creative youth development curriculum. We are proud of the many accomplishments of our students and are thrilled to have those accomplishments recognized by the Lewis Prize. A hearty congratulations to all the other finalists; we are inspired by your determination to make a difference in the lives of children through music. Bravi, tutti!”-30-
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