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2014 was a truly monumental year from the Philadelphia chapter of New Leaders Council (NLC-PHL). Our annual Fellows’ Fundraiser raised more money than the previous two years combined. NLC-PHL became one of the first chapters in the nation to receive a grant from the Knight Foundation and NLC alumni were being recognized everywhere. NLC fellows were saluted by Politics PA, Billy Penn and Leadership Philadelphia for their contributions to the city and the region as a whole. By the end of 2014, the NLC-PHL had emerged from the shadows of the Center for Progressive Leadership (CPL) and we began to establish ourselves as the premier leadership training organization for young professionals in the Greater Philadelphia Area.
We cannot rest on the laurels of perceived success, as there is much work yet to be done. We can look to the landscape of leadership in Philadelphia and see that there is a clear lack of young professionals in decision-making positions. Much has already been made about the advanced age of the 2015 mayoral candidates--an average 62 years old, compared to 50, the average age of all nine previous at their inaugurations. Contrast that with the fact that we are in the midst of an unprecedented Millennial population boom and the math does not make sense. The closer you look at the landscape, the more clear it becomes that Philadelphia is fertile ground in which New Leaders Council ought to be able to plant its seeds and prosper. Philadelphia is ripe with opportunity, but faces two challenges that NLC PHL must seek to solve: how do we develop the growing millennial population into transformative leaders capable of driving Philadelphia forward, and how do we make Philadelphia a more progressive city as a whole?
As we enter the fifth year of NLC-PHL, we have clear focus on those two challenges and a dedication to solutions. While 2014 was a year of great success for our chapter, its major transitions allowed us to rethink and improve our chapter’s leadership model. When Co-Director Gavin Kerians left to pursue the next stage of his career, we elevated Hoa Pham (Class of 2014) to that position. Hoa represents a bold new direction for NLC-PHL: now only is she the first female co-director of NLC PHL, but her work in non-profit management and organizational leadership brings a new perspective to the way our chapter operates.As Hoa and I set goals for NLC-PHL, we sought a strong group of alumni to chart the course of our chapter moving forward.
Our primary goal is to establish an identity for NLC-PHL within the city as well as under the national umbrella. To that end, we named Anne Marie Rhoades (Class of 2014) Operations Director and former board chair Dan Siegel (Class of 2013) our National Outreach Chair. The strength of our chapter, both locally and nationally, directly relates to the strength of our relationship with alumni and stakeholders. Dan is leading the way to ensure that NLC PHL becomes a force within the national New Leaders Council brand, with work that focuses outwardly toward the national organization and other chapters, including our successful pitch to host the 2015 NLC Northeast Conversation in Philadelphia.
For NLC-PHL to sustain growth locally and establish itself as a premier leadership training organization, our chapter’s two major responsibilities must be met, and well. Our annual Institute, with its intense curriculum and exclusive lineup of top-tier speakers, couples with a late spring Fellows’ Fundraiser to ensure the success of our chapter. In that work, Anne Marie oversees the Institute, Fellows Fundraiser, and Alumni Engagement. By streamlining work with current fellows, alumni, and community stakeholders under central leadership, and using alumni mentors to further that process, Anne Marie is actively working to create more meaningful relationships to strength the chapter and ensure future growth.
The 2015 Institute reflects this goal. This year, we recruited a dynamic new class that features arts and culture professionals, attorneys, members of the current mayoral administration, community organizers, marketing and development professionals, and one world-renowned DJ. Our new class represents the diversity that makes Philadelphia the great city it is, and we are producing a world-class Institute to help develop their skills as leaders.
This year’s Institute is led by our new Institute Director, Josh Darfler (Class of 2014). Josh, working closely with Anne Marie, has developed supplements to the national NLC curriculum, particularly the “Uber Pitch” (patent pending), a 21st Century update of the elevator pitch that encourages Fellows to focus on what they find most important to share about themselves or their work in the brief time it takes for a car to arrive. With a new brand identity, a stronger national presence, more engaged stakeholders, and an interpersonal and professional curriculum, NLC-PHL is poised to be Best in Class in young leadership development in Philadelphia. In this position, NLC-PHL is continuing the mission of New Leaders Council —to recruit, train, and promote the progressive political entrepreneurs of tomorrow—and in doing do, is changing the future landscape of Philadelphia, leading to a stronger, more progressive city.
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