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Nominating panel sends 18 new school board candidates to Kenney

The list includes more parents and educators.

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

The Education Nominating Panel sent 18 new names Friday to Mayor Kenney, who now has until April 5 to craft a new nine-member Board of Education that will take over governance of the School District on July 1.

Kenney now has 45 names from which to choose nine people who reflect the diversity of the city and include the characteristics and skills needed for a new governing body.

The 13-member nominating panel culled the candidates from among the 80 that were interviewed before it submitted the first 27 names on Feb. 26. Kenney praised the panel’s work on the original group of candidates, but on March 8 asked for more names – specifically more parents of current District students – from which he could make his choices. More than 500 people applied or were nominated by others.

Among the new candidates are a former District principal, the director of the city’s Read by 4th early literacy campaign, several other nonprofit leaders, an environmental activist who founded a bike-share system, an advocate for the disabled, and the father of eight current public school students who runs a museum dedicated to black authors. Several others in the new group are also current District parents.

Members of the Alliance for Philadelphia Public Schools, including Lisa Haver and Lynda Rubin, both former District teachers, again protested that the panel held its meetings in private and didn’t allow public input into the choices until they were a fait accompli.

Janine Yass, a charter school advocate who is a founder of Boys’ Latin and a board member of the Center for Education Reform, also attended the meeting and said she was disappointed that the group did not include more charter educators.

David Hardy, the founding principal of Boys’ Latin, was among those under consideration.

“I applaud the great effort of this committee but it’s very disappointing to see that the charter sector of Philadelphia – which is about one-third of the District – is not being represented on this new board,” Yass said. “There’s a lot more educators, which is great, but mostly from the District side.”

Wendell Pritchett, chair of the panel, repeated that he was confident about the process used to choose the candidates and that all viewpoints are represented.

“I felt great about the first group, and I feel great about this group,” Pritchett told reporters.

Of Yass’ statement about no charter representation, he said: “I don’t think that’s an accurate statement. We were looking for a diverse group of backgrounds, and, certainly, experience in that area is an aspect of a diverse group of backgrounds, and we considered that, and I think we actually met that requirement. ”

The panel had less than two months to vet all the candidates.

The new board will take over governance of the District from the School Reform Commission, which took control of the Philadelphia schools in 2001 after the state declared them academically and financially distressed.

Following are the bios of all 18 new candidates, as prepared by the Mayor’s Office of Education.

Dawn Ang
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.

Catherine Blunt
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.

Jenny Bogoni
Jenny Bogoni would bring more than 20 years of leadership experience to the board. She has worked for various nonprofit organizations serving underserved and disconnected youth. She has held positions with 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.

Alison Cohen
Alison Cohen is a proud Philadelphian 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. She co-founded and now runs Bicycle Transit Systems, a company that leads the nation in deploying and managing urban bike-share systems. Cohen has experience in overseeing large budgets and working with public agencies. She lives with her wife and three young children.

Deborah Diamond
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.

Supreme Dow
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.

Cheryl Harper
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.

Will Jordan
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.

Reed Lyons
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.

William Peebles
William Peebles graduated from Philadelphia public schools and has since been involved with public schools as a PTA president, treasurer, volunteer, and general member. He was the program director for the Education Leading to Careers and Training (ELECT) program at the School District of Philadelphia, which helps teen parents complete their high school education. He has also worked as director of the Diversity Apprenticeship Program and more recently as a contracting officer overseeing career training for 1,300 at-risk youth. He is a member of the Philadelphia Workforce Board and the University of Pennsylvania Economic Inclusion Committee.

Anna Perng
Anna Perng is a longtime Philadelphian who co-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.

Brenda Rivera
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.

Michael Smith
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.

Andrew Stober
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.

Katherine Stratos
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.

Fernando Treviño
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.

Wayne Walker
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.

Christina Wong
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.

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