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Sun, Jan


School has always come with a set of challenges for my daughter, Lillian. Lillian was diagnosed with Dyspraxia, a developmental disorder that affects her coordination. She has a visual impairment and legally Lillian is blind in her left eye. After her diagnosis at the age of five, we discovered the areas in which she struggled, and our family began working with the school to implement a 504 Plan, a plan developed to assist a child with a legal disability receive accommodations in elementary and secondary education to ensure their academic success. The 504 Plan was created to aide support her day-to-day learning and activities and included the use of headphones to address her sensory issues. Standing desks alleviated her muscle tension and low muscle tone and preferential seating (sitting up front in the classroom) accommodated her visual impairment.  

Middle School Challenges -- The Locker

Fourth grade brought its own unique set of challenges as she transitioned to the Intermediate School. She was now with older students, crowded hallways, and our current arch nemesis…lockers. While all students struggle with opening their combination lockers, Lillian had a particularly difficult time. The incoming students place pencils in their locker handles to hold the doors open until each learned how to use the combination locks. One by one, pencils began disappearing from the students’ lockers until only Lillian’s remained. 

Every night we practiced at home as Lillian’s frustration snowballed. Her limited motor skills and inability to recognize small numbers on the combination lock began to make this task seem insurmountable. Lillian was singled out by the bright yellow, number two sign of disability (the pencil) she kept in her locker door. It did not take long for other students to take note and begin teasing Lillian at her locker. Lillian began to dread her morning routine, and eventually school all together. Every morning was a reminder of how she was different, and it began to take its toll. We discovered a simple fix, a lock that opens with a thumb print. This minor piece of assistive technology solved all of her fourth-grade woes. And the cost was only 50 dollars.  

Technology Does Not Have to be Costly, to be Effective

People fail to realize that assistive technology does not have to be costly to be effective. While there are futuristic devices we see on the internet, or Elon Musk’s next million-dollar innovation on the news, they should not overshadow the accessibility of technology now available to all people in 2019.

Increased Advocacy on Technology Use

The Arc of Philadelphia is making the promotion and integration of Assistive Technology in daily living a focus of our work. We are working with the Coleman Institute on several initiatives that would make the benefits of assistive technology widely known throughout the community and with our legislative representatives.

Councilman Green’s office drafted a resolution that declares the importance of assistive technology throughout the City of Philadelphia, and we are a part of the team that is attempting to make Pennsylvania an Assistive Technology First State. Together, lawmakers and The Arc of PA are working towards legislation that would focus on assistive technology as a source of support and considered in every individual’s support plan. In addition, The Arc of Philadelphia is working with Comcast to become a tech coaching center where we will begin providing assessments and training on what assistive technology (AT) is available, how to use this AT properly, and where to access the funding. We are highlighting the need for this technology at every event, conference, and meeting we have to spread the awareness of how AT can benefit individual’s everyday lives.

Our Call to Action

To every person, organization, and company that supports a population in need for assistive technology -- THIS IS YOUR CALL TO ACTION. As a society, we are afraid of change, and so we often ignore the benefits of something new while reverting to past-norms. This mindset and approach are no longer acceptable. As leaders and servicers for these communities, you have the opportunity to be the agents of change that are so desperately needed to integrate assistive technology into the lives of the people that need it most.

When implemented correctly, technology reduces personal care costs, limits the amount of extraneous supports needed, and allows people to truly take steps toward independent living. Share the work you are doing to support this initiative. If you are not currently focusing your work in promoting AT for the populations you serve, redirect your agenda to do so because you are the link the AT field needs going forward. The future truly is now.  

It Could Have Been Different for Lillian

Lillian never received her thumb print combination lock. The school was less than supportive of allowing Lillian to utilize this solution she desperately needed. Yet, one year later, Lillian was able to open her locker but that she had to endure a year of frustration and feeling like an outcast because of her disability. Imagine how her experiences at school could have been different if everyone was a little more aware, and supportive, of the benefits of assistive technology.

Author bio

Joe Mancini is the Executive Director of The Arc of Philadelphia. He is also the President of the Pennsylvania Council of Executives for The Arc of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

With a seemingly endless parade of successful tech companies operating from California, is it any wonder why Philadelphia-based entrepreneurs sometimes relocate to the west coast? Consider that three of only four companies (Alphabet, Facebook, and Fortinet) consistently recognized on the Forbes’ list of Fastest Growing Public Tech firms1, all call California home for their respective headquarters. Still, the 2019 announcement of the Global Opportunity Philadelphia Fund (GO Philly Fund) provides a compelling list of arguments for existing entrepreneurs and new comers to build technology-infused firms that create valued offerings and accompanying jobs. Below is an interview with Scott Nissenbaum and Elaina Shekhter on venture fund opportunities in Greater Philadelphia’s technology ecosystem. Scott Nissenbaum serves as Chief Investment Officer at Ben Franklin Technology Partners, bringing more than 20 years of venture capital, entrepreneurial, and operational experience to his role. Mr. Nissenbaum also served as an adjunct faculty member at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School teaching the graduate course on Venture Capital. Elaina Shekhter is Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President of EPAM. Ms. Shekhter leads EPAM’s Global Marketing and Strategy, working to integrate a variety of functions that have a material influence on the strategy, positioning and global brand of the company.  

Q & A 

Q. What is the GO Philly Fund and what are the value propositions that it offers to the Philadelphia start-up ecosystem?  

A.  Scott Nissenbaum: It is a newly formed venture fund that is seeking investments in seed and early-stage tech-focused firms which are primarily in the Greater-Philadelphia region. The primary investment focus will be as a follow-on investor in the most successful Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ portfolio companies. Ben Franklin Technology Partners has more than 35 years of investment experience in 2,000+ companies with an active portfolio of 225+ firms. In addition to financial returns, the fund’s target outcome is to create a strong technology ecosystem for the Greater-Philadelphia area. 

For aspiring entrepreneurs, a key value position is tapping into Ben Franklin Technology Partners’ existing ecosystem of private and public stakeholders. They have a playbook of best practices which have already supported 225+ companies that have successfully created new offerings. For investors, there are efficiency as well as effectiveness benefits. The team has a proven process which enables them to screen 1,000+ prospective candidates, to perform formal due diligence on the best 200 companies, and then to invest in 50 of the highest potential ones. Like the stock market, while the team’s past performance is not a guarantee of future returns, it should be a good sign that Ben Franklin has managed 15 funds since 2004 with five of them in the top quartile2. Finally, for the Greater-Philadelphia area, we are excited about EPAM’s collaboration with us since they are the fourth company that was recognized in the Forbes’ list of Fastest Growing Public Tech firms. What they bring to the table is an inspirational story of a local start-up which grew from $1 million in 1993 to $10 million in 1999 and last year to more than $1.84 billion. Imagine the value that a fledgling entrepreneur might secure from connecting with someone like Elaina who has been part of the C-Suite team that has guided EPAM’s explosive growth.  

Q.  What are the top three recommendations for potential action that you would advise to readers? 

A.  Elaina Shekhter: First, think strategically and globally. For instance, while the brand might be “GO Philly Fund”, the “G-O” stands for “Global Opportunity.” So, think hard about creatively engaging with not only global stakeholders but also other entities that you might have originally excluded. Second, execute with speed and purpose towards your organization’s strategy. For example, what actions should be completed so that your stakeholders can clearly see how you have a plan to guide your team’s success from stage I to stage II to eventually even a Unicorn success? Third, even as you might successfully progress against your initial target outcomes, how will you maintain that constant hunger at your company? At EPAM, our C-Suite is constantly trying to figure out how we stay on that Forbes’ list as it’s frankly quite challenging. We’re collaborating with not only other companies but also with local universities to stay lean and agile in our daily operations. 

So invest some time to scan our content and take the initiative to get involved as an entrepreneur, investor, or even volunteer. We have 150+ volunteers (VCs, Technologists, and others) who share a common interest in helping others grow and achieve their goals.  

Author Bio

Michael Wong has more than 25 years of experience working for Apple, AstraZeneca, EPAM, IBM, and Merck. Mike is Co-President of the Harvard Business School Healthcare Alumni Association and his insights have been shared in the Harvard Business Review and MIT Sloan Management Review.  


1 Konrad, Alex, Meet The Fastest Growing Public Tech Companies In 2017, Forbes, May 23, 2017

2 Cambridge Associates’ US Venture Capital Index and Select Benchmark Statistics dated March 31, 2018

MANNA’s Ann Hoskins-Brown Believes that Food is Medicine

Ann Hoskins-Brown has a story to tell about the importance of proper nutrition for chronically and critically ill patients, and she works tirelessly to make sure the right people hear it. The Director of Policy & Institutional Affairs for MANNA (The Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance) has a long history and a deep connection with the organization she now calls home. 

Founded in 1990 by a group of seven church members in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, MANNA spent the first years of its existence providing comfort, care, and nutrition to people dying of AIDS in Philadelphia. In 2006, MANNA expanded its outreach to people with more than 70 critical illnesses, like cancer, renal and cardiac disease, and diabetes. Two years later, MANNA moved from providing supplemental meals to its clients to the Complete Nutrition Model, where clients receive three medically tailored meals a day, seven days a week, complemented by nutrition counseling and other resources. Hoskins-Brown stated that the shift was necessary if they really believed that “food is medicine” -- the motivating factor behind the MANNA’s services. The organization realized that MANNA’s intervention could only be successful if it was providing all of its clients’ meals instead of only some of them; the client would no longer have to supplement the MANNA meals on their own with potentially unhealthy options. 

Today, MANNA has grown into a well-known and respected organization in the Philadelphia philanthropic community with evidence-based programs and cutting-edge research that is affecting change at the state and national level. The organization relies on the services of 6,700 volunteers and 42 staff members to deliver on its mission, serving approximately 1,300 clients at any given time. MANNA has provided more than 15 million meals and helped more than 28,000 clients in the past 29 years. According to Hoskins-Brown, the growth has been a gradual evolution. 

Asked why she does it, Hoskins-Brown explains that she first became acquainted with the organization during the height of the AIDS crisis as a volunteer. During her time at MANNA she discovered that her dear friend, who had died of AIDS, was a MANNA client. He did not want his friends and family to see him as his condition deteriorated, and it was MANNA who saved him from isolation in his final days. The organization provided judgement-free compassion and companionship for him. Hoskins-Brown was hooked from that moment on. It was a mission she could truly get behind, and her passion for the organization and its impact continues to be strong more than 25 years later. 

She moved from volunteer to part-time staffer making calls for the organization’s nutrition department, and eventually to a position as MANNA’s first full-time grant writer in 2006. As the Grant Development & Research Manager she wore several hats and had a lot of different interests, including program development and research. It was becoming clear that the organization’s services were making a positive difference in the lives of its clients and helping them to save on healthcare costs, but the organization needed data to truly measure its impact.

Hoskins-Brown was a big proponent of research to support the model’s success, and played an integral role in the commission of a study with the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning (now known as Equal Measure). The results of the study were published in 2013, driving the organization’s strategic trajectory for the next several years. 

The study not only confirmed MANNA’s positive outcomes for its patients but proved that nutritional intervention works and can make a huge social impact on care for chronically and critically ill patients. According to the CDC, 86 percent of healthcare spending in our country can be attributed to individuals with chronic health conditions. MANNA’s 21-weekly, medically tailored, home-delivered meals and nutrition counseling addresses and supports this specific group of people, and they were getting healthier and spending less on healthcare as a result. When compared to a control group, MANNA’s test group saw an average monthly healthcare cost savings of $13,000, hospitalization rates were 50 percent lower, in-patient stays were 37 percent shorter, and they were 20 percent more likely to be released from hospital to home, rather than to costly long-term care.

Hoskins-Brown actually left MANNA for a short time while the study was being conducted and published to pursue program development with St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children, a small private foundation. She returned in 2014 to join MANNA CEO Sue Daugherty to help lead the charge on policy change efforts based on the study results. MANNA quickly realized that these numbers could motivate funders, particularly health insurance companies who would see a direct benefit from healthier members living with chronic illnesses. 

At a National Nutrition Month event in 2014, Hoskins-Brown re-connected with the President and CEO of Health Partners Plans (HPP), Bill George. HPP is a 284,000-member nonprofit health insurance company based in Philadelphia. HPP soon became the first health insurance company to reimburse MANNA for providing services to its health insurance customers, starting in 2015. MANNA has provided more than 665,000 meals to more than 2,000 HPP members suffering from various illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, malnutrition, and kidney failure. As a result, HPP is seeing a decrease in use and costs for inpatient admissions, primary care physicians, specialists, and emergency room visits. This successful partnership has provided a strong model for continued collaboration with insurance companies and health systems. 

MANNA and its partners are poised to make a significant impact on a healthcare system that is in desperate need of an overhaul. Ann Hoskins-Brown’s passion, tenacity, and collaborative approach will undoubtedly play a huge role in the organization’s success. 

Works Cited

1 “FIMC National Policy Briefing Sheet”, accessed at

2 “The MANNA Model”, accessed at

3 “Food as Medicine Model, a Framework for Improving Member Health Outcomes and Lowering Health Costs”, accessed at

4 “Health Partners Plans President and CEO William S. George To Retire; Executive Vice President Denise Croce Named President and CEO”, accessed at

Since April 2016, Lisa Nelson-Haynes has served as Executive Director of Philadelphia Young Playwrights (PYP). Considering that PYP is an organization that bases its mission around the power of storytelling, it is clear why Lisa Nelson-Haynes was chosen to lead it. As an accomplished storytelling artist herself, Lisa fluidly expresses her investment in Philadelphia’s youth and the power that PYP has to elevate their voices.  

Philadelphia Young Playwrights is a nonprofit organization dedicated to Philadelphia’s youth and the beliefs that young people have important stories to tell, deserve a platform to tell them, and that theater provides the necessary tools to showcase these stories. Since 1987, PYP has served nearly 60,000 Philadelphia-area students and teachers as well as partnered with more than 60 professional playwrights and theater companies to enrich their participants’ experiences.

After more than 25 years, PYP works with more than 90 public and private K-12 classrooms in the Greater Philadelphia area in playwriting workshops led by local theater artists. They also expanded their impact beyond improving literacy and critical thinking skills to enhancing students’ sense of agency, responsibility, and self-esteem by producing more than 60 public presentations of original student work. 

Lisa Nelson-Haynes graduated from Hampton University and is a current MFA candidate for film-making at Temple University. For 15 years prior to her position at Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Lisa has been the Associate Director at the Painted Bridge Art Center and has been nationally recognized as an expert in digital storytelling through her work at Storycenter in Philadelphia. Lisa has an in-depth knowledge of the Philadelphia arts community as Associate Director as well as an artist herself. 

Her deep personal and professional ties to the Philadelphia arts community are crucial to her success as Executive Director of Philadelphia Young Playwrights as the organization is uniquely formed around the Philadelphia area and its people. As a storyteller herself, Lisa understands first-hand the power telling your own stories can have for personal development as well as the obstacles and self-doubt that PYP participants may be feeling. 

Her growth from an Associate Director at the Painted Bride Arts center to Executive Director at PYP was aided by her experience at the Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute at Bryn Mawr College School of Social Work and Social Research. There, she spent significant time reflecting on her personal style of interacting with people. The product of that experience, as well as what likely is the impact of her work as a storytelling artist, is a person who demonstrates immense clarity of thought and self-awareness.  

The openness and small size of the PYP offices lends itself to how Lisa approaches her management duties. Although the previous Executive Director was more directive, establishing a culture of handing down orders, Lisa works collaboratively, believing in the skills and insight of those she works with to meet them where they are. Her balance between confidence and humility is apparent in how she both believes in her personal vision for the organization while trusting in the expertise of others who have had more direct experience with playwriting. Although transitioning to a new leadership role can be difficult, Lisa has worked through the process with transparent intentions and an open mind to the contributions of others.

In this recent transition of leadership, Lisa also closely interacted with a board that had been incredibly involved in supporting an executive director who was not on-site during its previous year. Although working with an unusually dedicated and knowledgeable board during the first year of her executive directorship was beneficial, the transition to establish her own assertions as executive director has led to a new vision for PYP’s core curriculum.

As a mother of two adolescent children, Lisa’s understanding and commitment to youth development is both deeply personal and perceptive. As the leader of a program that serves a population of mostly African-American adolescent students, Lisa has demonstrated her sensitivity to the issues facing young people of color at this moment in history, particularly in Philadelphia. In her observations of how many participants of color are writing dark, trauma-centered pieces, Lisa wants to revisit how PYP’s approach best serves those students who might need the program the most. Lisa proposed to and is backed by the board in implementing a curriculum shift from trauma-informed practices to making PYP a healing center. This stems from her belief that while adults have coping skills for the dark times we are in culturally, there are very few resources for young people to learn those coping skills, and Lisa would like PYP to be one of those resources. 

Lisa Nelson-Haynes demonstrates many of the qualities of a Level 5 Leader. Early on in her position as executive director, she demonstrated her ability to confront brutal facts as she had to make the decision to let go of an employee who was a close friend and champion of hers during the hiring process. However, her commitment to the hedgehog concept of the organization made her realize that his position was not necessary to PYP’s success, and therefore that employee had to be let go. Her blend of humility and confidence in her management style also make her an effective leader in inspiring commitment to PYP’s mission. In her work to improve social impact through her shift of the organization’s curriculum as well as increased earned revenue streams, she shows that she is indeed a plow-horse for her organization. In addition to newly earned revenue streams, her tangible contributions extend to the application of her digital storytelling expertise, through her creation of a PYP podcast and television programming first launched in October 2018. Her work ethic is strengthened by how intensely the passion for the mission drives her: her motivation and joy in the work comes from engaging in the organization’s mission at multiple levels -- going to classrooms and seeing the students’ engagement, watching the teaching artists dedicate themselves wholeheartedly to the students’ needs, and watching the impact of their performances on community members and board members alike. 

Lisa Nelson-Haynes is an executive director who exemplifies the strong relationship between nonprofit leader and an organization’s mission. She leads successfully because she opens herself up to be inspired by the people she works with and the students she serves. 

For more than 15 years, the Brandywine Health Foundation located in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, works to improve the health and well-being of people. The foundation provides program grants and fosters community partnerships in an effort to develop sustainable solutions that will promote civic engagement within communities. The foundation's guiding principles: stewardship, equity, wellness, collaboration, and leadership -- which is the focus of the current leadership of the foundation.  

Vanessa Briggs is a native to Philadelphia, and a renowned leader in the field of public health.  Ms. Briggs applies her expertise to working with communities to solve complex problems through multi-sectoral strategic partnerships, community engagement, health promotion and education, and disease management interventions. Prior to joining Brandywine Health Foundation, Ms. Briggs served as Vice President of Community Health in Maryland and Executive Director for Health Promotion Council -- which is an affiliate of Public Health Management Corporation -- for 15 years. During her time at the Health Promotion Council, Briggs led a team and enhanced the organization's budget three-fold, while developing and leading several large-scale regional and national childhood health equity initiatives. Briggs’ prowess optimizes the capacity of nonprofit organizations by building multi-sector partnerships between health providers, policymakers, and community members.

The Briggs Leadership Model

As a female leader Briggs speaks highly of her male mentors, appreciating when they pushed her to be assertive, over-prepared, and confident. She believes to be successful you must work twice as hard as the next person, and women must work three times as hard as men. Briggs is passionate, authentic, and driven to affect social change. The racism Briggs faces daily motivates her to stay true to herself, and only enforces her drive to be successful. She authentically engages with each person, whether it be a board, community, or staff member, because she acknowledges the power of human connection.  

Ms. Briggs believes that as a leader, it is critical to establish strong relationships with all board members, ensuring they feel of value, and to keep them informed, engaged, and competent on the work of the organization. She aims to keep her foundation diverse, placing significance on maintaining mutual respect and valuing diverse experiences. Briggs leads the culture of the organization with her values of stewardship, diversity/inclusion, and authentic engagement. The Brandywine Health Foundation's mission and Brigg's values align enabling her to effectively drive a culture of civic responsibility and engagement. 

What Briggs Brings to the Brandywine Health Foundation 

Briggs is approaching her two-year anniversary of serving as the CEO and President of the Brandywine Health Foundation (BHF). As she was acclimating herself to the organization and getting to know the community, she was simultaneously thinking of areas where the Foundation can be strengthened, and its vision fortified. In terms of revenue, Briggs believes it is incumbent for BHF to diversify alliances and partnerships that relate to different sectors. It is in BHF’s best interest to view grantees as partners, while also seeking strategic partnerships with their respective governance to leverage additional support.  

Briggs sees health not as one aspect, but as an interdisciplinary necessity. With that perspective, she envisions BHF to look beyond just improving access to health, while identifying and addressing the causes of health disparities. For example, the “Greening Coatesville  Initiative” is a strategic plan that views parks and recreation as an investment, rather than a cost. To improve physical activity, BHF explored current systems and concluded that there was a need for a space to make social cohesion, fitness, and nature accessible for all residents. BHF saw the importance of the “Greening Coatesville Initiative” to be developed, and uplifted the voices of target constituencies, residents and local leaders. 

Briggs has a new vision for BHF; implementing a multisector approach to address the quality of life experienced by the Coatesville community. The approach centers on the need for equity and engages constituents in the planning process. Through cross sector partnerships, food accessibility, parks and recreation, and advocating for quality health promotion and health care; Briggs’ progressive vision is creating an optimistic and resilient future for the community of Coatesville and the Brandywine Health Foundation. 

Author bio

Kristen Stenson is a second-year student pursuing dual master’s degrees in social work and non-profit leadership and management at The University of Pennsylvania, where she also works as a Social Media Assistant at The Wharton School. 


Founded in 1969, the Alliance of Community Service Providers (Alliance) formed as an association of organizations that provide mental health, substance use, and/or intellectual disability services to all populations. Utilizing a “community-based service system,” the Alliance helps implement the planning and coordinating of the members’ services. In addition, the Alliance serves to improve the sustainability of services offered by members, as well as the quality of services.

An important piece of the Alliance’s mission revolves around advocacy and lobbying work. As the Associate Director of the Alliance, Karin Annerhead-Harris frequently interacts with local and state policymakers in order to lobby on behalf of the organization, and its members. Karin is a firm believer in the importance of lobbying and has transformed the Alliance into a stronger presence in the legislature over the past three to four years.

Current Lobbying Work

Two years ago, Philadelphia passed a soda tax, and hoped to use the funds to benefit Philadelphia’s community schools. Recently, Philadelphia’s Republican representatives crafted a bill proposing to repeal the implemented soda tax. Currently, Karin is lobbying against the aforementioned bill. Karin states that the Alliance went up against the Speaker of the House to advocate for the soda tax, as they believe it is good for lower income residents receiving an education in Philadelphia. Although education is not specifically a part of the Alliance’s mission, Karin states that a huge percentage of individuals benefiting from Philadelphia’s community schools are also clients of the Alliance’s member organizations. 

Karin stresses that lobbying is an integral part of human services work. She admits that three to four ago, the Alliance wasn’t as focused on policy work as they are now. Karin is spearheading the Alliance’s efforts to make the organization a stronger presence in state and local policy.

Leadership Style

Karin believes that the foundation of a good leader is passion and drive behind the work. Karin states that she is passionate about making things better for her population and making a change through her advocacy work. Karin states that her anger for unequal opportunities within the human services field fuels her passion, and therefore is the driving force behind her work. 

In addition, Karin is more of a plow horse than a show horse. Although her job requires her to be the face of the Alliance (along with the Executive Director), she is frequently meeting with state and local legislators to advocate for issues important to the Alliance’s members.

Prior to working at the Alliance, Karin worked in the entertainment industry. Although her job paid well, Karin stated that she did not feel fulfilled working for wealthy individuals who didn’t understand the issues surrounding inequality. She immediately began her advocacy work for marginalized populations, which led her to the Alliance.

When looking for team members, Karin states that she wants passionate individuals who are able to understand different points of views. In addition, she is interested in individuals who are willing to put in the necessary research for advocacy work. Finally, Karin desires team members who think independently. 

Karin is an example of a fiery, passionate leader. She uses what drives her to fuel her work and continue to advocate for the Alliance’s members. She is not afraid to confront the brutal facts and improve the Alliance’s current pitfalls in order to make the organization a thought leader in policy. 

Ruth Ann Dailey serves as the Vice President of Regional Distinguished Partners Northeast Region of the American Cancer Society, Inc. In 2019, Ruth Ann Dailey will celebrate her ten-year-anniversary of working for American Cancer Society. As the Regional Vice President from 2008 through present, Ruth Ann also serves as the Vice President of Corporate and Distinguished Partners and began that role in 2013. 

Ruth Ann’s day to day work for the American Cancer Society is always changing. As the Vice President of Corporate and Distinguished Partners for the Northeast Region, Ruth Ann spends a majority of her time traveling up and down the Northeast Region to Maryland, parts of Virginia, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Her primary focus, however, is on major markets such as Boston, New York, the District of Columbia, and Philadelphia. Her role is focused on creating more corporate sponsorships for the American Cancer Society and relationship building. Ruth Ann is not responsible for the small details of events or researching data instead she focuses on the planning, strategizing, and relationship building to gain additional corporate sponsorships. Currently, the American Cancer Society has more than 60 corporate partnerships. Ruth Ann’s continued goal is to bring in major gifts of $10,000 and more and working on special distinguished events that gross more than $500,000 from galas to golf outings. She currently leads a team of 34 staff members and collectively they raise about $24 million per year. 

The American Cancer Society’s mission is to save lives, celebrate lives, and lead the fight for a world without cancer. In order to stay connected with American Cancer Society’s mission, Ruth Ann believes that “one must be very purposeful with their work and try not to get stuck into a silo.” She believes that the American Cancer Society does a great job of intentionally and purposely integrating their mission into their daily work. Ruth Ann believes in mission literacy in order to be able to speak to the work that the Society does through active communication and recognition of achievements. With a significant decline in fundraising support since 2012, Ruth Ann leads her team and asks them to have a renewed focus on the mission and to bring more insight into the work that they do to better the lives of those affected by cancer, and not to just look at the goal of how much money was fundraised in a particular year. Ruth Ann is confident in the future of the American Cancer Society and believes that the future is in the hands of leaders like students from the University of Pennsylvania. She shared insight on how to prepare yourself to get into a position of leadership with a nonprofit organization by recommending individuals to volunteer on boards, become advocates for an organization and its mission, and to just put yourself in a place of leadership that will enable you grow. 

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