View of Philadelphia skyline at sunset

Philadelphia Research and Policy Initiative


Emerging Leaders Corps

Program Supports Philadelphia’s Next Generation of Leaders

Emerging Leaders Corps helps rising stars shape their vision of a more equitable, inclusive city

This year, The Pew Charitable Trusts launched a new collaborative learning program in Philadelphia, the Emerging Leaders Corps (ELC), as part of its commitment to support an equitable, inclusive local economy and a city where all residents can thrive. Created in partnership with Anavi Strategies and Rvesta Consulting, and supported in part by the William Penn Foundation, the ELC was designed to help rising Philadelphia leaders tackle some of the city’s biggest challenges.

Seventeen participants—nominated by city officials and local civic, cultural, education, business, and economic development leaders—attended the program’s eight shared-learning sessions. Through facilitated discussions, breakout group activities, and presentations by subject matter experts, these emerging leaders learned about using research and data to inform policies, building relationships, fostering critical and creative problem solving, and assessing consequences and trade-offs.

Anjali Chainani, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Anavi Strategies and former policy director for the city of Philadelphia, and Vaughn Ross, founder of Rvesta Consulting and former deputy chief of staff to Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, led the sessions, along with Pew experts.

Over the course of the program, participants developed their visions for the city’s future. And in the final session, in April, they shared with policymakers and civic leaders their action plans for advancing those visions through continued learning, collaboration, and advocacy.

The curriculum

The State of the City and Envisioning a Future Philadelphia

In this first session, participants and facilitators discussed the current state of the city and envisioned its future. The ELC directors introduced the program’s goals and objectives, and emerging leaders engaged with their peers through an activity and group discussion.

Philadelphia’s Economy

The second session dug deeper into Philadelphia’s economy, including employment and wage trends and the pandemic’s ongoing impact on the city. Participants heard a friendly debate between a leader in the business sector and a top City Council staffer, spotlighting considerations and trade-offs in competing policy choices.

Using Research on Local Data, Peer Cities, and Promising Practices for Data-Driven Decision-Making

The third session drew on the expertise of Pew’s Philadelphia research and policy initiative staff to demonstrate how to best leverage local data, peer city comparisons, and promising practices research. Participants used these tools to ground their own vision for the future and assess how they might identify metrics for success.

Balancing Needs With Limited Resources in Municipal Budgeting

Session 4 focused more intensely on the trade-offs that decision-makers must wrestle with when operating within tight budgetary constraints. Participants reflected on the city’s budget priorities and policy proposals related to the local economy, and had the opportunity to hear directly from the city’s budget office.

Land Use and the Built Environment

Session 5 focused on the effects that land use and the built environment have on social and community health, capital planning, and fiscal equity. Participants evaluated the consequences and opportunities of possible regulatory and operational changes to municipal land use.

Health Equity and the Role of Community-Based Organizations

Session 6 focused on how community-based organizations use budgets, fundraising, and partnerships to advance health equity. Participants heard about the social determinants of health and organizations’ role in creating healthy, holistic environments for all residents, particularly the most vulnerable.

Cities (and Budgets) of the Future

Session 7 focused on important considerations for cities of the future and how to leverage federal dollars and philanthropic investments to design and implement meaningful initiatives. Panelists discussed how to achieve stronger outcomes that prioritize the well-being of cities’ most marginalized residents.

Vision Showcase and Graduation

For the eighth and final session, the emerging leaders showcased their visions for Philadelphia and received their ELC certificates. They were encouraged to invite guests to join them for this informal graduation gathering.

The 2023 ELC cohort

Following are the 17 participants of the 2023 ELC program.

Rafael Álvarez Febo Vice president for advocacy and community development, Esperanza

Rafael Álvarez Febo leads Esperanza’s community development and organizing efforts, including corridor management for neighborhood businesses, environmental justice initiatives, voter outreach and education, and neighborhood planning. Previously, Álvarez Febo served as executive director for Pennsylvania’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs and as the community and economic development director for the office of City Councilmember Maria Quiñones Sánchez, where he focused on zoning, planning, greening initiatives, and public investments.

James Campbell Senior coordinator, Social Impact Programs, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia

In his role as senior coordinator of social impact programs for the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, James Campbell is responsible for managing programs and initiatives that promote inclusive economic growth in the region. Before joining the chamber, Campbell championed economic and neighborhood development in outward-facing roles in multiple Business Improvement Districts in New York City, working with hundreds of commercial corridor businesses to increase sales. Campbell is a graduate of Haverford College, where he majored in the growth and structure of cities.

Mehra den Braven Re-entry housing partnerships coordinator, City of Philadelphia

In her role with the city of Philadelphia, Mehra den Braven coordinates efforts to better support Philadelphians returning home from incarceration and is particularly interested in partnering to create sustainable futures that prioritize relationships and community. Before working for the city, she conducted behavioral economics research and served with AmeriCorps.

Mike Gerrity Director of legislation, City of Philadelphia

Mike Gerrity joined the city of Philadelphia in April 2021, first serving as assistant director of legislation for Mayor Jim Kenney before becoming director in October 2022. He previously served as a captain in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps from 2018 to 2020, as trial counsel and military justice adviser for U.S. Army Africa, stationed in Vicenza, Italy. Before that, Gerrity served as an administrative law attorney for the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, stationed in South Korea, and as a law clerk for Pennsylvania’s 45th Judicial District.

Ashley Gilmore Special projects liaison, Office of City Council President Darrell Clarke, City of Philadelphia

Ashley Gilmore is passionate about crafting equitable policy solutions for the challenges facing Philadelphians. Before assuming her role as special projects liaison for City Council President Darrell Clarke, she served as a policy fellow in Philadelphia’s municipal government while attending the University of Pennsylvania. Upon graduating in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Gilmore worked as a legislative director, learning the ins and outs of policymaking before accepting her current role on Clarke’s team.

Ashley Glasgow-Crockett Executive director of federal programs and compliance, School District of Philadelphia

In 2016, Ashley Glasgow-Crockett joined the School District of Philadelphia’s grants compliance and fiscal services division. Since then, she has held several positions in the office of federal programs, leading successful program evaluations and redesign projects, managing the district’s various applications for federal funds, and eventually becoming the office’s director. To date, Glasgow-Crockett has led three successful redesign initiatives focused on improving operational efficiency, reimagining service delivery models, and leveraging existing technology to improve outcomes for students experiencing homelessness.

Jesse Herrmann Senior strategic/service designer, Maximus

Jesse Herrmann is a lifelong Greater Philadelphian, having grown up in South Jersey and lived in the city of Philadelphia since 2008. Through his professional work in service and product design for nonprofit and government clients, Herrmann has developed a passion for creating effective, equitable government and opportunities that meaningfully improve communities. Herrmann is a long-distance runner and backcountry camper who loves learning Spanish, playing guitar, and cooking, and has traveled to 44 states and more than 25 national parks. He received his master’s degree in public policy from Temple University.

Angelique Hinton Executive director, PA Youth Vote

Angelique Hinton is a political and community organizer and advocate for a new generation of voters. She co-founded PA Youth Vote to educate young people ages 18-24 on the vital issues affecting their everyday lives to ensure that they show up to the polls and choose their elected leaders wisely. Before transitioning into full-time advocacy, Hinton managed client relationships at the financial services company Vanguard, where she monitored the quality of its ultra-high-net-worth clients’ customer experiences. Additionally, Hinton is president of Norristown NAACP; council leader of the Racial Equity Learning Community, Montgomery and Bucks counties’ collaborative advisory council; and a board member of the Montgomery County-Norristown Public Library, Expressive Path, and Community Hero.

Rashon Howard Business development director, 1847Financial

Rashon Howard is recognized among the top 10 emerging financial advisers in the country and finds constant inspiration in helping his clients build generational wealth. After eight successful years with Citizens Financial Group, he joined 1847Financial in 2018 as a financial adviser. 1847Financial offers expertise in estate, retirement, business, risk management, and business succession planning. Howard is the founder of the Reach Up Foundation: The Shon Experience, a nonprofit organization offering workshops, speaking engagements, and seminars to clients, with a mission of establishing community growth.

Jude Husein Director of state advocacy, Pennsylvania state Senate

Born in Jerusalem and raised in North Philadelphia, Jude Husein is a passionate public servant and strategist. She serves on multiple boards, including the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee and She Can Win. Husein consults with youth-serving organizations to empower young people and ensure that they have a seat at the table. As a former United Nations youth delegate, she has organized and implemented various events throughout Philadelphia to empower and uplift underserved communities. Husein currently serves as director of state advocacy for the Pennsylvania state Senate.

Sergio Hyland Executive assistant, Abolitionist Law Center

Sergio Hyland is a writer, speaker, and executive assistant at Abolitionist Law Center. He spent nearly 21 years in state prison—more than five of those years in solitary confinement. While in prison, he was mentored by former Philadelphia Black Panther Russell Maroon Shoatz, whose guidance politicized Hyland. As a result, Hyland began to write and speak publicly. Since he was released from prison in February 2022, Hyland has continued to work in communities throughout Philadelphia, with a focus on political education, voter engagement, and inclusion. He believes that any legal system that creates more harm than benefit should be replaced with a system that truly works for all people.

Rachel Kurlander Associate director, Office of Government and Community Affairs, University of Pennsylvania

Rachel Kurlander is an associate director in the Office of Government and Community Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania. In that role, she works to foster meaningful relationships with Penn’s partners in government and in the community, and to promote civic engagement on campus. Kurlander enjoys running, hiking, camping, and just about any activity where she can spend time outdoors with her partner and their dog, Cora.

Télyse Masaoay Director of racial equity policy and practice, Mayor’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, City of Philadelphia

Télyse Masaoay leads the city of Philadelphia’s racial equity strategy in the Mayor’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. As the daughter of hardworking people who often struggled to make ends meet, Masaoay knows that government services and policies—from bus routes to trash collection to after-school programs—can have a lasting impact on people’s lives. In her current role, she facilitates a citywide strategic planning process for all departments to develop racial equity action plans. She also has launched a racial equity community practice for city employees, develops tools to embed racial equity into the city’s budget process, and advises departments on community engagement initiatives.

Somaly Osteen Program director, Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia

Somaly Osteen started her career as a community advocate in Cambodia, involved in community engagement and other efforts to bring positive change to the community. Today, Osteen works as program director for the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, overseeing programs that support local businesses and entrepreneurs. In her previous role at the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association Coalition (SEAMAAC), Osteen and her team brought in over $1 million in loan and grant money to small businesses in South Philadelphia that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Danita Reese Service design strategist, City of Philadelphia

Danita Reese is a service design strategist at the city of Philadelphia’s service design studio who brings nearly 20 years of communications, operations, and design experience to her work. Her curiosity and desire to understand how people and complex organizations function has led her to work in the consulting, engineering, financial services, government, health care, nonprofit, and retail industries.

Ed Rogalski Executive director of general accounting, School District of Philadelphia

Ed Rogalski is the executive director of general accounting at the School District of Philadelphia, the United States’ eighth-largest school district, serving over 200,000 students. Rogalski oversees all day-to-day activity in the accounting department, preparing the district’s annual comprehensive financial report and administering its enterprise resource planning software, Oracle Cloud. Rogalski also serves as treasurer on the board of directors of the nonprofit organization Rock to the Future, which supports young Philadelphians’ positive development through free, student-driven music programs.

Cydnea Shearlds Director of policy and legislation for Councilmember Jamie Gauthier, City of Philadelphia

Cydnea Shearlds is the director of policy and legislation for Philadelphia 3rd District City Councilmember Jamie Gauthier. Although Shearlds’ experience is varied, she has always focused on zealously advocating for the needs and rights of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable residents of color. A lifelong Philadelphian, Shearlds joined the council’s ranks in the spring of 2021. Before that, she worked as a legal clerk, then as a staff attorney at Mincey Fitzpatrick Ross LLC, concentrating on civil rights and plaintiffs’ litigation. Her community involvement centers on her commitment to racial equity, specifically by decreasing barriers to homeownership and wealth building. Shearlds also previously handled tangled title and probate cases as a volunteer attorney for Philadelphia VIP.

Stay tuned for more information on the 2024 ELC cohort.