PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia took a step closer to local control of its public schools on Monday when the Education Nominating Panel made its choices for School Board candidates. Mayor Jim Kenney now will pick nine people from a list of 27 nominees.
The list includes two current School Reform Commission members but few other familiar names.
The panel received 500 nominations and interviewed 80 people to get to the final group. Panel Chair Wendell Pritchett says they used four criteria: organizational skills, educational leadership, civic engagement and ethics, with one overarching consideration.
“Diversity was underlying all of the decisions that we made,” she said. “We were looking for the best candidates, but we were also cognizant that we wanted to represent the diversity of the city.”
The group includes several lawyers, parents, college professors, the manager of the Reading Terminal Market and two current SRC members, Chris McGinley and Joyce Wilkerson.
“We interviewed 80 terrific people and we came up with 27 of the 80 that we thought were the top,” Pritchett said. “It’s a great group.”
But school advocates, such as Diane Payne, were generally unhappy with what they called a lack of transparency in the panel’s process.
“There’s a feeling of back-room deals, power wrangling and one-man control,” Payne said.
And Lisa Haver, who fought for local control, found the panel secretive.
“The nominating panel has violated the law by holding secret meetings,” Haver said. “The PA Sunshine Act states clearly that the people must be able to witness what their government is doing and have a say in it.”
Pritchett defended the process and stood by the list of names.
“We feel really good about all of them,” she said.
The nominees are:
Sarah-Ashley Andrews is a product of Philadelphia public schools. She attended W.B. Saul High School before attending undergraduate classes at Bloomsburg University and eventually earning a Bachelor of Arts in biblical studies with a minor in human services from Lancaster Bible College. Since returning to Philadelphia, she has been a staunch advocate for living mentally well, managing anger, and educating youth and adults on suicide through in-school programming and partnerships.
Jenne Ayers currently serves as an Associate at Ballard Spahr LLP. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University in government with health policy as a secondary field. She also has a law degree from Yale Law School. She is a board member for the League of Women Voters, Philly Set Go, the Philadelphia Chapter NAACP Youth Council and is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar Association. Jenne has worked on political campaigns for Joe Khan, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. She was born and raised in North Philadelphia and graduated from Julia R. Masterman in 2006.
Tonya Bah was born in Philadelphia and attended Simon Gratz High School and, later, Temple University. She has worked in the United States Senate, the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the Department of Homeland Security, and the Philadelphia hospitality industry. She is also affiliated with several Philadelphia organizations, such as the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, Win the City, and Opt Out Philly (through the Caucus of Working Educators).
Fluent in both English and Spanish, Dario Bellot earned his Bachelor of Arts in international business and his Master in Business Administration in Argentina before also taking business classes at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Dario has served as Finance Director of a multi-billion-dollar company, Senior Vice President of Administration for Congreso de Latinos Unidos, and is currently the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. He has also served various non-profit organizations including several public charter schools, the Mayor’s Commission of People with Disabilities, and the Seybert Foundation for Poor Boys and Girls.
Suzanne Biemiller attended Williams College and later received her Master in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Since 2012, she has served as a trustee of the Community College of Philadelphia. She has also served as chair of the PICA Board, the fiscal oversight board of the City of Philadelphia. In her professional life, she has worked as a Senior Program Officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts, First Deputy Chief of Staff for the City of Philadelphia, and Chief of Staff at the American Board of Internal Medicine where she designed conflict of interest policies..
As an alumnus of Teach for America, Laura Boyce has attended Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, and the Relay Graduate School of Education. She has taught at West Philadelphia High School, Simon Gratz Mastery Charter High School, served as principal of the Cooper B. Hatch Family School and Uncommon Schools Camden Prep in Camden, NJ, and most recently led teacher development in Philadelphia through a William Penn Foundation grant. Laura and her husband look forward to sending their future children to their neighborhood district-run public school.
Julia Danzy has deep knowledge and a strong commitment to the welfare of Philadelphia’s children. Julia has attended Howard University and has received a Master in Social Work from Columbia University and a Master in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She has worked in the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare, Philadelphia City Council, and has served as Deputy Commissioner for Children Services in the Philadelphia Health Department.
As a Philadelphia resident since 1974 and a Philadelphia public school parent, Susan DeJarnatt is deeply committed to providing every child with equitable access to a high-quality education. As a law professor at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, Susan has written extensively on school reform and its impact on Philadelphia. She has also served as a faculty advisor to the Student Discipline Advocacy Service and, formerly, to Temple’s Youth Courts practicum. As a board member of the Education Law Center, Susan has written extensively about the need for integrity, disclosure, and elimination of conflicts of interest within non-profits.
Stacy Dutton came to Philadelphia to pursue and complete a Master in Business Administration at the University of Pennsylvania, and has since been deeply rooted in the City. Stacy has served as a peer review panelist for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, worked with the Arts and Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, and more recently served as a board member and current Executive Director of the Lantern Theater Company. She has also served as President and Chief Investment Officer at the Park Agency, Inc. and Managing Partner at the Brandywine Global Investment Management.
As a bilingual speaker of both English and Spanish, Leticia Egea-Hinton has attended Chestnut Hill College, Alvernia University, and received a Master in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. She also currently teaches classes on social welfare at Alvernia. In her career, she has worked in Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services/Adult Services, Office of Emergency Shelter and Services, and most recently served as the Assistant Managing Director for the Office of Supportive Housing. She has served as an advisory board member at PHMC/Care Clinic and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and a board member of Trinity Health/Nazareth Hospital.
Mallory Fix Lopez
Mallory Fix Lopez has lived in Philadelphia for 15 years, having moved here to pursue both a bachelor and master’s degrees in education. During her graduate work, she studied Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and concentrated in Curriculum, Instruction, and Technology in Education. She has both taught and volunteered in Philadelphia public schools in social studies and English-as-a-second-language (ESL). More recently, she has served as the ESL Director and Program Founder at the Garces Foundation and taught at Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, and currently the Community College of Philadelphia.
As the mother of a preschooler, Susanna attended J.S. Jenks and Central High School. While practicing law in Philadelphia, Susanna joined the Board of Trustees at Independence Charter School and served as Board President for the past two years. She received a Bachelor in Ethics, Politics, and Economics from Yale University and later a law degree from New York University. She has taught in public schools both as an all-subjects and English language learner teacher. She has also served on the board of Young Involved Philadelphia and currently lectures at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Anuj Gupta has extensive public, private, and non-profit experience. He attended Carnegie Mellon University, and received both a Master in Government Management and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He served Philadelphia during Mayor Nutter’s administration as the Deputy Director for Performance Management, Deputy Recovery Officer, and Chief of Staff/Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Licenses and Inspections. More recently, he has served as Executive Director of Mt. Airy USA and currently is General Manager of the Reading Terminal Market.
Rotonya is a current parent of a 3- and 7-year-old at Penn Alexander School. She is the Vice-President of the Home and School Association and an ad hoc member of the school advisory council. She is involved with clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania where she cares for patients with complex liver diseases and manages a multi-million-dollar research project which funds her own liver research. She started her studies in the public school system of Charleston, South Carolina and earned degrees at both Harvard and Cornell Universities.
Lee Huang has now lived in Philadelphia for more than 26 years. He earned a Bachelor of Science in economics at the Wharton Business School and a Master in Public Administration from the Fels Institute of Government, both at the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked at The Enterprise Center and currently served as the Senior Vice President and Principal at Econsult Solutions. He has served on the board of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia Advisory Board, and the Urban Affairs Coalition Impact Development Roundtable Committee Leadership. He has three children, two of which attend the Penn Alexander School and one which will attend Penn Alexander. Mr. Huang is also a current member of the Philadelphia Water Rate Board.
Renee Hughes attended the University of Virginia and later received her law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center. She served as a Trial Judge in the Court of Common Pleas for 16 years and has recently taught at Villanova, Temple, and Drexel Universities. Most recently, she served as the Chief Executive Officer at the American Red Cross, Eastern Pennsylvania. Additionally, she has served on the boards of the Independence Health Group, Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and the Public Health Management Corporation.
Loree Jones studied at Spelman College, and Princeton University. She has served as Executive Director of the African Studies Association and the Co-Executive Director for City Year Greater Philadelphia. For the City of Philadelphia, she has served as First Deputy Managing Director and Chief of Staff, and Managing Director. She has also served as the Chief of Staff and Executive Director of the School Reform Commission and Chief of External Affairs for the School District of Philadelphia. She is currently the Chief of Staff at Rutgers University – Camden and has served on the board of AchieveAbility, the Manayunk Development Corporation, Health Partners Plans, Committee of 70, Operation Understanding, and Project H.O.M.E.
Chad Lassiter received a Bachelor in Social Work in Charlotte, North Carolina before receiving his master’s in the same discipline at the University of Pennsylvania. His career began as a school-based therapist at Palumbo Elementary School in Philadelphia. He went on to be a social worker at The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania. In the same organization, he served as a behavioral interventionist and researcher. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and West Chester University and currently is the Executive Director of Red Cross House and Recovery for the American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania. He has also served on various mayoral committees and has been a member of the board of the Community College of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Prison System, and has served on the Mayor’s Commission on African American Males.
A mother of two children, Maria has taught at three different Philadelphia public schools. She received a Bachelor of Arts and Master in Education as well as a medical degree from the Temple University School of Medicine. She has worked at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children while pursuing training in child abuse pediatrics. She has served on the boards of the PA Children’s Trust Fund, Philadelphia Academy Charter School, and Prevent Child Abuse (of which she was the founding chairperson). She currently works in the Pediatrics Department at Cooper University Hospital.
Chris McGinley earned a bachelor’s degree from Temple University in elementary education and a Master in Special Education from Antioch University. He earned his Doctorate in Organizational Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania. He currently serves as coordinator for the Educational Leadership Program at Temple University where he is an associate professor. Formerly, he has been a Philadelphia public school teacher, principal, and district level administrator. He has also served as the Superintendent of Schools for the Lower Merion School District, Executive Director of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, and Superintendent for the District of Cheltenham Township. He has served on the boards of Public Citizens for Children and Youth, Research for Action, and the National Adoption Center. Mr. McGinley currently serves as a Mayoral appointee to the School Reform Commission
Angela has been a resident of Philadelphia for 25 years and has three children who attend Philadelphia public schools. She holds a history degree from Hampton University, a Master in Education from Temple University, and a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from the University of Pennsylvania. She has served on the board of the University City Arts League and currently serves on the board of the nonprofit How I Decide. She has taught in the Norristown Area School District, directed the Upward Bound Program at both Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania, directed the Mastery Charter Thomas School transition, and founded the Trapezium Math Club. This research-based company focuses on helping children build strong foundational math skills through engaging after-school programming.
Folasade Olanipekun-Lewis earned an economics degree from the City University of New York, a law degree from Temple University, and a Master in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania. Folasade has called Philadelphia home for more than 25 years and is a current trustee of the Free Library and former member of the Philadelphia Water Rate Board. She has also served on the boards of the Philadelphia Ballet and Urban Affairs Coalition. She was the Chief Financial Officer of both the School District of Philadelphia and the Office of the City Council President. She has also served as the City Treasurer, Deputy Commerce Director, and the Chief Administrative Officer at the Philadelphia International Airport. She currently serves as the Regional Director of Government and Airport Affairs at American Airlines.
Sharon Parker earned a Bachelor in Secondary Education at Temple University, a Master’s Equivalency from Penn State University, and a Doctorate in School Leadership from Widener University. She was a student teacher at Frankford High School in Philadelphia and then taught and was a principal in the Wallingford-Swarthmore School District in Pennsylvania. She was then the Superintendent at both that school district and the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. She has also volunteered as an English-as-a-second-language tutor and as a Home and School Association volunteer at the Masterman School. She has served on the board of the Chester County Art Association, the United Way of Southern Chester County, and the Learning Link of Delaware.
Akil Parker earned a Bachelor of Science in finance from Morgan State University, completed graduate coursework at Point Park University, and earned a Master in Educational Leadership from Lincoln University. He has served as a learning coach, academic advisor, and history and math teacher. He also has two children who have attended public and private schools in Philadelphia. He is involved with the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics and the Association for Study of Classical African Civilizations.
Roberta Trombetta received her Bachelor of Science in business administration from Drexel University before earning her law degree from Temple University. In her professional career, she has served as the Managing Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and Chief of Operations for the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas, Family Court Division. She has also served as the Chief Executive Officer of Carson Valley Children’s Aid and is currently the founder of C.B. Community Schools. Roberta and her three sisters were all educated by the Philadelphia school district and attended the Lamberton School.
Patricia Wellenbach is currently the President and CEO of the Please Touch Museum. She currently serves on the board of Thomas Jefferson University and the Pennsylvania Women’s Forum. Previously she has served on the boards of The Reinvestment Fund, Avenue of the Arts, Inc., Fringe Arts, La Salle University, the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. She earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Boston College and completed the health care executive certificate program at the UCLA Anderson School of Business.
A Cleveland native, Joyce Wilkerson started off in Philadelphia as an attorney with Community Legal Services. Wilkerson served as Chief of Staff to Mayor Street. She helped to stabilize the Philadelphia Gas Works and chaired the board of the Philadelphia Housing Authority. She would then go on to be the Executive Director of the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority. She is currently a member of the board at the Merchant Fund, Scribe Video Center, Brandywine Workshop and Committee of Seventy. Wilkerson earned a Bachelor in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Wilkerson currently serves as a Mayoral appointee to the School Reform Commission.