The third installment of Philadelphia School Board Nominee Reports: APPS Researches 18 New Board Nominees

SB nominating panel
The Philadelphia School Board Nominating Panel

 At a March 16 public meeting, the Education Nominating Panel approved eighteen additional nominees for the new school board to replace the SRC on July 1. Mayor Kenney will consider these, along with the initial twenty-seven approved two weeks ago, to come up with a nine-person board. He is expected to announce his final selection by April 5.

Lisa Haver and Deborah Grill

Dawn Ang

Nominating Panel says:
An immigrant from Singapore, Dawn Ang has lived in Philadelphia since 1998 with her two boys, who both attend Philadelphia public schools. She has been a fierce supporter of children with special needs; one of her sons has special needs of his own. She has organized funding and events for various nonprofit organizations, including $2 million in grants and the International Moebius Syndrome Foundation’s largest conference to date. 

Ms. Ang has worked since 2012 as a self-employed writer and development consultant in the fields of immigration, workforce development, education, disadvantaged and at-risk communities, and disabilities.

According to her LinkdIn profile, current clients include: Philadelphia Joint Board, Workers United, Catholic Housing and Community Services, Catholic Social Services and International Professional Relations, Inc., and University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

For two years in 2011 and 2012, Ang served as development director for Hope Partnership for Education, a private school whose website describes it as an “Independent middle and adult education center serving the Eastern North Philadelphia…endorsed and administered by the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus and the Sisters of Mercy”.

Catherine Blunt

Nominating Panel says:
Catherine Blunt is a lifelong Philadelphian who has committed her life and career to the public schools in Philadelphia. She spent 35 years in the School District, beginning as a teacher and ultimately retiring as the principal of Parkway Center City High School. She graduated from Temple University and received her principal certification from Cheyney University. Blunt also founded the Parkway Program Alumni Scholarship Fund and is an active member of West Philadelphia High School’s Advisory Council. She is the proud mother and grandmother of Philadelphia public school graduates.

Ms. Blunt worked for 35 years in the School District of Philadelphia as both teacher and administrator, including as principal of Parkway Center City High School. She is a graduate of William Penn High School in North Philadelphia and holds degrees in Education from Cheyney, Temple, and Antioch universities. She has been an outspoken advocate for public education, in particular early childhood programs, and currently serves on the Mayor’s Universal Pre-K Commission. Blunt is a member of the People’s School Board slate endorsed by the Our City Our Schools coalition. Blunt’s children and grandchildren have graduated from Philadelphia public schools.

Jenny Bogoni

Nominating Panel says:
Jenny Bogoni would bring more than 20 years of leadership experience to the Board. She has worked in various nonprofit organizations serving underserved and disconnected youth. She has worked for the National AIDS Fund in Washington, D.C., City Year Greater Philadelphia, the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning, After School Activities Partnerships and the Philadelphia Youth Network. Most recently, she has served as the Founding Executive Director of the Read By 4th Campaign at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Jenny Bogoni has served as the Executive Director of the Free Library’s Read by 4th Campaign since July 2015. She is also Principal Consultant of Bogoni Strategy Partners whose clients include: Philadelphia Education Fund’s Math & Science Coalition, Mayor’s Office of Education STEMcityPHL, Mayor’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity’s Shared Prosperity. She is an advisory board member of Spark program (a non-profit that works with six Philadelphia middle schools on career exploration). She is a graduate of Haverford College.

Alison Cohen

Nominating Panel says:
Alison Cohen is a proud Philadelphia and product of public schools. After graduating from the University of Virginia and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she became a consultant on environmental issues and ultimately co-founded and currently runs Bicycle Transit Systems, a company that leads the nation in deploying and managing urban bike share systems. Alison has experience overseeing large budgets and working with public agencies. She lives with her wife and three young children.

Ms. Cohen, an entrepreneur who builds bicycle share systems, is president and CEO of Bicycle Transit Systems which manages Indego, the city’s bike sharing program and is director of Bike Share Services – Toole Design Group, LLC. She previously worked as an environmental consultant for Woodard & Curran, (2005-2009), Director of Development of Free the Children (now called WE Charity) – Toronto, Canada (2001-2002) and Investment Banking Analyst, Investment Banking Analyst and Real Estate Industry for Goldman Sachs (1999-2001). She was a professional tennis player from 1996-1999.

 Deborah Diamond

Nominating Panel says:
Deborah Diamond is a lifelong Philadelphian who now leads Campus Philly, an economic development nonprofit whose mission is to engage and retain college talent in the Philadelphia area. She began her career in academia, teaching political philosophy at Columbia University and Bryn Mawr College. Diamond holds a bachelor of arts degree from Bryn Mawr College and a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Chicago. She is a product of Philadelphia public schools, and her children attend Philadelphia public schools. 

Ms. Diamond was a Senior Consultant at the Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania with a focus on improving the function of regional municipalities and civic organizations.  She was the first Director of Research and Strategy for Visit Philadelphia, a tourism marketing agency. Prior to that Ms. Diamond served as the Vice President of The Melior Group, a market research consulting firm with specialities in municipal and state government, healthcare, financial services and utilities.  While there she developed a practice in higher education for the firm.  She taught at Columbia as a Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow.  She served on the Executive Board of Bryn Mawr College Alumni Association and presently serves on the board of Overseers of the Jewish Grad Network of Greater Philadelphia, the marketing committee of the National Museum of American Jewish History, and is the class parent for the 2018 class of the Science Leadership Academy.

Supreme Dow

Nominating Panel says:
Supreme Dow is the executive director of the Black Writers Museum. This is the only museum of its kind, dedicated solely to the preservation, examination, and celebration of the contributions of African American authors. Dow has volunteered in the Philadelphia public schools, providing additional instruction to students in both reading and math. He is a product of Philadelphia public schools and graduated with honors from Lincoln University. He is the proud parent of eight public school students.

Mr. Dow attended Lasalle University, Chestnut Hill College and Lincoln University, where he studied Human Services Systems.  He organized the 10-22 Protest Committee, a group who called for supporters of the protest of Colin Kaepernick to boycott the NFL on October 22.  Mr. Dow is a poet and has released a collection of poems, Quiet Screams.  He was the featured poet for Macy’s Black History Program 2017  and conducts workshops and lectures on African American literature.

According to documents from Germantown Settlement’s 2002 Education Planning Grant, Mr. Dow served as Neighborhood Outreach for the organization and was part of their Education Planning Committee for their study of the 17 Northwest public schools that the district was considering converting into “independent public schools”.

However, a bankruptcy court ordered the sale off of Germantown Settlement properties in 2009. Germantown Settlement Charter School closed in August, 2010. When Mr. Dow left Germantown Settlement is unknown as there is a twelve year gap from 1998 until 2010 in his biographies on LinkedIn. The court granted the community a voice in its restructuring, but  the sale of the properties began in March  2018, thus ending a sorry saga in a Philadelphia neighborhood.

 Cheryl Harper

Nominating Panel says:
Cheryl Harper holds a bachelor of science degree in education from Cheyney University, as well as a master’s degree and superintendent’s letter of eligibility from Arcadia University. For the Philadelphia School District, Harper has served as the director of employment services, Head Start instructional facilitator, and school assistance team case manager. She has also served the Camden School District as the executive director of human resources and is now the student teacher site director for Drexel University’s Department of Education.

Ms. Harper holds a BA in Education from Cheyney University and a Master’s Degree and Superintendent’s Letter of eligibility from Arcadia. She is the student-teacher site director for Drexel University’s department of education. She has worked for the School District of Philadelphia as director of employment services, Head Start instructional facilitator, and school assistance team case manager. She has also worked as Executive Director of human resources in the Camden School District.

Will Jordan

Nominating Panel says:
Will Jordan is an associate professor of urban education at Temple University, who received a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s degree in political science from Stony Brook University.  He holds a doctorate in sociology and education from Columbia University’s Teachers College. He serves on the board of Big Picture Philadelphia and has served on the board of Arise Charter High School. He has been a resident of Philadelphia for more than a decade and has two teenage children. 

Dr. Will Jordan is an Associate Professor of Policy, Organizational, & Leadership Studies at Temple University (since 2004) and is also a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. He states in his Temple biography that his primary interests and expertise fall in the areas of urban education, high school reform and reslience among adolescents of color. Jordan has done a great deal of educational research and writing about urban education.

Jordan sits on the Board of the education company Big Picture Philadelphia. The school is centered on project based learning. In addition to state funding, the school is funded by many corporate and hedge fund philanthropies. On September 7, 2017, Big Picture Philadelphia received a $835,000 grant from the Philadelphia School Partnership. PSP is part of the national corporate reform Mind Trust.

Big Picture is part of a national and international network of schools. The network has received large grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: $1, 900,000 in March, 2003 , $9,856,000 in July, 2003, $25,000 in February, 2005, and 3,315,216 in 2009. Corporate education investor Ted Dintersmith is heavily invested in Big Picture.

In December, 2016 the School Reform Commission sold the closed Roberts Vaux High School to the Philadelphia Housing Authority for $2 million. On January 31, 2017, the SRC approved a $23 million contract with Big Picture Schools of Philadelphia to manage the property. This caused controversy because SRC members Joyce Wilkerson and Chris McKinley are affiliated with Temple University, the CEO of Big Picture Schools Philadelpia (BPSP) is a professor at Temple, and Will Jordan is on the board of BPSP. Of these conflicts of interest: “Jordan said he did not know that Wilkerson was the chair of the SRC at the time of the approval of BPSP’s contract. Wilkerson also said she was unaware that there were Temple employees on the board of BPSP.” (See Joyce Wilkerson’s biography in Installment #2)

Jordan previously served on the board of Arise Charter School. The school was closed in June, 2015 after the SRC gave the school a year and a half to turn things around. District staff cited poor daily attendance (68 percent) and dismal test results, declining enrollment, and a dangerously low fund balance as reasons to act on non-renewal. (Roberta Trombetta, another nominee for school board, was Arise Charter CEO when the SRC voted not to renew.)

Reed Lyons                                                                                    

Nominating Panel says:
Reed Lyons is a parent, a former Philadelphia public school student, and the son of two public school teachers. Lyons earned a political science degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the George Washington University Law School. He is on the board of Greene Towne Montessori School, the Washington Square West Civic Association, and Operation Understanding. He has worked as an Urban Fellow in the Neighborhood Development Division of the New York City Department of Small Business Services. He has also served as an attorney, a real estate manager for Ikea, and currently as the vice president of Navy Yard development for the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp. 

Mr. Lyons career has focused on real estate from his days as an attorney at Blank Rome (2006-2013).  Blank Rome is one of many law firms on retainer with the School District. They represented the District and then Chair Bill Green when APPS brought a  Sunshine Act complaint in 2015. APPS won the suit. According to his LinkedIn page he was Real Estate Manager at Ikea (2013-2016). He managed and supported U.S. real estate development projects for IKEA’s U.S. Property & Retail Expansion Division.

According to his Linkedin page, Lyons is is Vice President and the Philadelphia Navy Yard PDIC. Mr. Lyons has specialized in “ land use, zoning, and real estate tax”.  The Navy Yard Project is a large public-private enterprise with funding of over $1 billion.

Lyons serves as a “current parent” on the Greene Towne Montessori School, a small private school in Center City.

William Peebles

Nominating Panel states:
William Peebles has worked as the program director for the Philadelphia School District’s Education Leading to Careers and Training (ELECT) program, which helps teen parents complete their high school education. He has also worked as contracting officer overseeing career training for 1,300 at-risk youth. He is a member of the Philadelphia Work-force Board and the University of Pennsylvania Economic Inclusion Committee.

William Peebles has worked as a federal project manager at the Office of Job Corps, Employment and Training Administration for the US Department of Labor since 2009. Before that, he served as Director of Diversity for the Philadelphia Revitalization and Education Program. Peebles received a Masters of Human Services from Lincoln University.

He graduated from Philadelphia public schools and has been involved as PTA president, treasurer, and volunteer.

Anna Perng

Nominating Panel says:
Anna Perng is a longtime Philadelphia resident who founded the Temple University Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Project, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for disabled people across their lifespan and their families. Perng is the mother of two children with disabilities and is a passionate advocate for public school access to special services needed by many children. She also serves as a parent representative on a School Advisory Council. She lives with her husband and two children in Philadelphia; her eldest son attends public school, and his younger brother attends pre-school.

Since graduating from Swarthmore College in 2003, Ms Perng has been involved in community activities on national, state, and local levels. Her LinkedIn page indicates that she worked as a Field Organizer for the 2008 Obama Campaign, then served on the Obama-Biden Transition Team. In 2015, Governor Wolf appointed her to the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific Affairs. This group of 30 volunteers “is responsible for advising the Governor on policies and legislation that impact the diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPIs) communities, serve as a liaison to federal, state, and local agencies….and provide forums for developing strategies and programs that will expand and enhance the civic, social , education, cultural and economic status of the AAPIs communities; identify programs, scholarships, mentoring programs, and resource(sic) for the benefit and advancement at of APAs in Pennsylvania.”

Perng has been active in community struggles on behalf of disabled students. She organized monthly workshops with Chinatown Medical Services, Elwyn, and Chinatown Learning Center for the purpose of helping to bridge the divide between families and services, in particular the linguistic and cultural hurdles Asian families face in dealing with autistic family members. Through her work with the Philadelphia Autism Project, Perng brought together clinical professionals and students to work with underserved families coping with autism; the group received a $150,000 grant in 2016 from the Pennsylvania Dept of Education “to identify the most common and important challenges and barriers these families face when accessing services, create programs to meet those needs, and evaluate their efforts.”

In 2017, Perng initiated an online petition for a city recreation center in Chinatown.

Brenda Rivera

Nominating Panel says:
Brenda Rivera grew up in Philadelphia and currently serves on the boards of Project HOME, the Philadelphia Homeless Memorial Planning Committee, and the City of Philadelphia Homeless Death Review. She earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work from Temple University. She has worked as a unit director and director of home-based services at the Supportive Child Adult Network and as program manager for the Horizon House. Rivera’s children have collectively attended these schools (among others): Lawrence Dunbar, Julia Reynolds Masterman, Bodine High School for International Affairs, and George Washington High School. 

According Ms. Rivera’s bio, her board memberships and working experience have revolved around programs for the homeless. At Horizon House Information from Horizon House indicates that she directed the Shelter Plus Care program which “helps individuals (may include families) with histories of homelessness and substance abuse obtain housing and achieve self-identified goals.”   Ms. Rivera’s Linkedin page lists her employment at Horizon House. She holds degrees from Temple University in social work. Her children have attended Philadelphia public schools.

Michael Smith

Nominating Panel says:
Michael Smith is a longtime resident of Philadelphia with 11 years of high school teaching experience and 30 years of experience at the post-secondary level. He oversees a Pathways Project at Frankford High School that prepares 11th- and 12th-grade students for the rigors of college reading and writing. Some of his work with National Geographic School Publishing has been adopted by the School District of Philadelphia, such as at the 2017 ESOL/Bilingual Summer Institute. 

Michael Smith has 11 years of high-school teaching experience and has also taught for 30 years at the post-secondary level. Since leaving teaching he oversees a reading and writing college preparatory program at Frankford High School with Pathways Project. Some of his work with National Geographic School Publishing has been adopted by the School District of Philadelphia,

Andrew Stober

Nominating Panel says
Andrew Stober earned his bachelor of science degree in business administration from Northeastern University and his master’s degree in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He has served on the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, the Temple University Institute of Survey Research, and the Passyunk Square Civic Association. He was the director of strategic initiatives and chief of staff in the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and now serves as the vice president of planning and economic development for the University City District. His son will begin kindergarten at a Philadelphia neighborhood school in September.

Mr. Stober currently serves as VP for Planning & Economic Development for University City District (Jan 2016 – present) overseeing projects for public space development and management and transportation, Green City Works, and commercial corridor development in University City.

Stober worked for Mayor Michael Nutter as Chief of Staff, Office of Transportation and Utilities (2010-2015), where he oversaw implementation of Indego Bike Sharing, and as Director of Strategic Initiatives (2008-2010). He previously worked in Colorado Department of Transportation as Manager, Investment Analysis (2007-2008) and Metropolitan and Regional Planner (2006-2007).

As a candidate for City Council at Large in 2015, Stober told Philadelphia Magazine that he wanted to support public schools by making sure that the City collects unpaid taxes.

Stober and his family moved to Passyunk Square in 2012; he has been a board member of Passyunk Square Community Association since 2016. He will be a parent of a kindergarten student in September 2018.

Katherine Stratos

Nominating Panel says:
Katherine Stratos worked for the School District of Philadelphia as a data analyst, research associate, and senior research associate and project manager in the Office of Research and Evaluation. She earned her bachelor of arts degree in English from James Madison University and her master of science degree in social policy from the University of Pennsylvania. She has served on the board of the Bethesda Project and founded and is the president of the Friends of Waring Elementary group. She currently works as a director of government affairs and analytics for Comcast NBCUniversal. 

Katherine Stratos serves on the board of the Bethesda Project, which provides emergency housing and supportive services to the homeless. She was a Co-Founder of Friends of Waring Elementary School in 2016. The Friends Of Neighborhood Education (FONE), where Stratos is a volunteer, is a “coalition of more than 40 Friends groups that believes that a first-class education, within a safe school setting, should be the right of every child in Philadelphia and the entire United States”. She served as a senior researcher and project manager for a research partnership between the Philadelphia school district and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, co-creating a series of district-wide surveys for students, parents, teachers and principals to provide feedback on schools.

She published an article “Phila. Renaissance School Initiative after Four Years” that concluded: “Unfortunately, though it may have begun with most of the ingredients needed for success, the inputs to the Promise Academy model—related not only to funding but also to strong will and clarity of vision—were not sustained.”

Fernando Trevino

Nominating Panel says:
An immigrant from Mexico, Fernando Treviño has lived in Philadelphia for 16 years. Both his children attend Andrew Jackson School. Treviño earned a law degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León and a postgraduate certificate in international and comparative law from Temple University. He was the Pennsylvania state director for Operation Vote and has served as an adviser to the mayor, deputy executive director, and transition adviser for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs. He has also been the Pennsylvania director of constituency outreach and partnerships for the For Our Future PAC. 

 Mr. Trevino is the founder of Trevino Strategic Consulting, which has represented the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton and Josh Shapiro campaigns among its clients. Trevino’s LinkedIn page states that he is a “skilled political operative who is globally minded and a community advocate” who cares about civil rights, social action, politics and social services.” Trevino served as Deputy Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs under former Mayor Michael Nutter. Trevino was state director of Operation Vote, which coordinated outreach to different constituency groups statewide. Trevino served as political director of Ken Trujillo’s 2015 primary mayoral campaign before Trujillo dropped out and supported Jim Kenney. Trujillo represented Aspira Charters before the SRC, characterizing the charter company’s misuse of taxpayer funds as “cross-collateralization”.

Trevino has been PA Director of Constituency Outreach for the For Our Future PAC 

His two children attend the Andrew Jackson School in South Philadelphia.

Wayne Walker

 Nominating Panel says:
Wayne Walker is the president of Walker Nell Partners Inc., an international business consulting firm with a focus on corporate governance, turnaround management, corporate restructuring, and bankruptcy matters. Walker has extensive experience sitting on the boards of large and complex organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and the National Philanthropic Trust. 

Mr. Walker is a founder and president of Walker Nell Partners, Inc., whose website says it is “an international business consulting firm” where Walker “focuses on corporate governance, turnaround management, corporate restructuring and bankruptcy matters”.

Walker holds a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Catholic University (Washington, DC) and a BA from Loyola University (New Orleans).

He is a member of the State Bar Association of Georgia, American Bar Association, American Bankruptcy Institute and Turnaround Management Association.

Walker worked in the Securities and Bankruptcy Group at the Dupont Company where he was responsible for assessing customers’ creditworthiness as well as restructuring debt, both in and out of court.

Walker recently served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of BridgeStreet Worldwide, Inc., a global provider of corporate housing. He also completed tenure as a director of a publicly traded company (“NASDAQ”) in the new media industry. Walker serves as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity that holds $6 billion of assets under management and has disbursed more than one billion dollars around the world. He also serves on the boards of Eagleville Hospital and Foundation, where he chairs the Finance and Budget Committee. Wayne also serves on the Audit Subcommittee of the corporate Union League of Philadelphia.

For three years, Walker served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity International, then a $400 million plus global non-profit housing organization spanning 60 countries. He also held positions of corporate secretary and chairman of the Executive and Human Resource Committees of the board during his eight-year tenure. Walker speaks nationally on corporate governance matters and debtor/creditor rights. He has written for the Annual Survey of Bankruptcy Law.

Christina Wong

Nominating Panel says
Christina Wong grew up in her family’s business, the Chinatown Learning Center. She learned firsthand how access to a quality neighborhood school offered opportunities and a future for many immigrant families. Today, she is the vice president of ESM Productions, a live-event production and broadcast company headquartered in Philadelphia. Additionally, Wong is very active in the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia. She also volunteers at public schools in her neighborhood and speaks to students about college readiness.  

 Ms. Wong is currently Vice President of EMS Productions where, according to her LinkdIn profile, her main focus is on “client relations, talent retention, talent relations, and community partnerships”. Recently, ESM Productions became a partner company with Roc Nation, the JAY Z – founded international entertainment company.

In 2015, Wong served as the Talent Operations Manager for the World Meeting of Families, Festival of Families and Papal Mass during Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States – the largest National Special Security Event (NSSE) in U.S. history.

Wong is a graduate of Philadelphia University and serves on the University’s Board of Trustees. She is also a member of the Young Professionals Council (YPC) of the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, where she serves on the YPC Advisory Board; she also serves on the Chamber’s Civic Affairs Steering Committee, the Education and Talent Action Team, and the Chamber’s Small Business Board. Recently, Wong joined the board of Philly Set Go, Philadelphia’s first millennial Political Action Committee, and was appointed to the Philadelphia Works board by Mayor Jim Kenney. Wong was also appointed to the Jefferson University Academic Board of Trustees. In 2016, Wong co-chaired the Volunteer Outreach Committee for the Democratic National Convention Host Committee.

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