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Armbrister nominated to fill Whelan’s seat on SRC

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Denise McGregor Armbrister, executive director of the Wachovia Regional Foundation, has been nominated to the Philadelphia School Reform Commission by Governor Ed Rendell to replace Daniel Whelan, whose five-year term on the SRC expired in January.

As the head of the foundation since 1999, Armbrister has overseen the distribution of millions of dollars in grants to organizations in low-income neighborhoods in the region.

Armbrister, a mother of five, is currently a public school parent and has two children who are graduates of the school system. She began her career in banking in 1977.

Governor Rendell commented, “Denise brings years of financial experience and a dedication to helping children and families in the Philadelphia area improve their quality of life.”

The five-member School Reform Commission was created as a governing board for the School District as part of the state’s takeover of Philadelphia schools. Mayor Street appointed two of its current members – Sandra Dungee Glenn and Martin Bednarek. The other three positions are filled by the governor. Former Governor Mark Schweiker, besides appointing Whelan in 2002, also selected Chair James Nevels and Commissioner James Gallagher for seven-year terms.

With the appointment of Armbrister, who is African American, the SRC will have three African American and two White members.

The appointment of Armbrister to the unpaid post, which must be confirmed by the state Senate, is expected to shift the political balance on the body. On split votes, Whelan rarely sided with the mayor’s two appointees. Whelan was also opposed to the renewal of CEO Paul Vallas’s contract last summer, while Governor Rendell has expressed strong support for keeping Vallas in the position.

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