A lot has changed since we last ranked Philadelphia’s 50 most powerful men and women, in 2005. Four years ago, we defined power as the ability to get things done (bills passed, jobs created, buildings built). This year, after we surveyed 100 power players and interviewed countless more, what quickly became obvious is that there’s a vacuum in this city right now. Our political scene — once the epicenter of Philadelphia power — is at best bumbling, at worst impotent. (We could barely get permission from Harrisburg to raise taxes on ourselves.) Many CEOs, like Charlie Pizzi (Tasty Baking) and Nick DeBenedictis (Aqua America), are hunkering down (understandably) to spend more time on their businesses. And it’s still too early to make a call on those who are relatively new to their jobs, like Rob Wonderling (Chamber of Commerce) and Timothy Rub (Museum of Art). A few weeks into the process, we were just depressed. Some of us wondered if we could even fill a list of 50. Somebody suggested that we leave the top spot blank.
[sidebar]But then something else emerged: There are people getting things done — maybe not monumental projects, but the smaller-scale stuff that’s still vital to this city and its citizens. So we broadened our definition of power and came up with five archetypes. Transformational is the type of power we considered back in ’05, because there are still people (#2 Joe Neubauer) who have the ability to just make things happen. An Influencer (#18 William Sasso) is well connected and knows how to work relationships to effect change. People with Institutional power (#8 Amy Gutmann) can set agendas because of the jobs they have. Our Lifestyle czars (#5 Stephen Starr) matter to our day-to-day quality of life as Philadelphians. Finally, the few who earn our Willpower distinction (#17 Jane Golden) deserve credit for often transcending their jobs and moving the needle despite obstacles. These labels allowed us to come up with a richer list, a group of 50 with a broader reach over our general well-being, from skyscraper to street level. And that gives us a glimmer of hope.
We’ve included rankings from power lists in 2000 and 2005, and you’ll see there are a lot of “new to lists.” We also noted a few people who might be obviously missing, and why. And, back to that hopeful feeling again, we’ve got a group of up-and-comers we think will be exercising power in the years to come.
1. David L. Cohen, transformational
Executive Vice President, Comcast
2005: 5 :: 2000: 2
For the past decade, Cohen, 54, has been the man local honchos go to when they need to get something done, large or small. (Recent example: When Police Commissioner Ramsey wanted to honor officers killed in the line of duty, he made a call to Cohen. Presto: Comcast is developing a video kiosk at the Roundhouse.) As right-hand man to Brian Roberts, the head of the Chamber of Commerce, board of trustees chair of the University of Pennsylvania (starting this month), confidant of Governor Rendell, and key adviser to Mayor Nutter, Cohen has a role in shaping every aspect of city life. See the profile here.
2. Joe Neubauer, transformational
Chairman and CEO, Aramark
2005: 25 :: 2000: 68
Neubauer shot up so high on our list because, simply, he’s got the power to transform with a snap of his fingers when not too many in town do. Most of his clout comes from his private food-and-facilities service management company, which had $14 billion in revenues last year. So there’s no debate with some management board or corporate HQ before he lends his name or Aramark’s to a cause, or gives money. And give he does (albeit in a low-key way), supporting the Orchestra, nudging the Barnes Museum move along, and keeping Eakins’s The Gross Clinic in town. At 68, Neubauer is still far from finished with Aramark or Philadelphia.
3. Dwight Evans, transformational
PA State Representative
2005: 46 :: 2000: Not on list
Sure, he lost the mayor’s race, but his skyrocketing rise on our list is due to the fact that as chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Evans, 55, understands that money means power. “He’s incredibly good at the inside game,” says one political watcher. “And now, on the committee, he wields an incredible amount of power without the scrutiny that comes with being Speaker.” Plus, he’s been first on issues like gun control, predatory lending, abandoned homes and autos, school choice, alternative prison sentencing (boot camps!) — and a recent fresh-food initiative to get grocery stores into the state’s most blighted communities. Evans is more stolid workman than budding Machiavelli — his power stops at the State House door, while Vince Fumo’s ran far beyond the State Senate. And despite the flap over North by Northwest (an Evans-connected nonprofit group bought that failing Mount Airy club from owners who included Evans–connected Ahmeenah Young), we find it refreshing to hear words like “sincerity,” “commitment” and “character” when asking about a pol.
4. Ed Rendell, transformational
2005: 3 :: 2000: 18
When Rendell steps down from his Harrisburg throne in January 2011, his friends and foes will remember his legacy in different ways. But no one will call him boring. Rendell, 65, never quite expanded his success as Philadelphia’s mayor into statewide appeal, and maybe that’s why he’s still so powerful here. He’s our guy, after all: a Philly tradition. The personality that won Philly lost much of western Pennsylvania, and he never shook his reputation as a -hoagie-scarfing, party-loving, Eagles–commentating big-city guy. He also never forgot us, and we admit we’re hoping for some goodies to come our way before he bows out of the Capitol. Plus, he’ll still be looking out for Philly via his tripartite effort (along with Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger), Building America’s Future. Which may all go to explain why he’ll be welcomed home with open arms, as well as the call from some in the business sector for him to run for mayor in 2011.
5. Stephen Starr, lifestyle
2005: 4 :: 2000: 84
While Starr’s empire of 18 restaurants and a catering division has given him fame and fortune, no one has reaped the benefits of his labor more than Philadelphia has. He ranks so high on this list — and is our highest entry with Lifestyle power — because his restaurants improve neighborhoods by spurring economic development and increasing property values in a way no foundation, initiative or law can. A Starr restaurant today is a destination neighborhood tomorrow, drawing city dwellers, suburbanites and out-of-towners into our restaurant scene. Witness the revitalization of Old City after he opened Continental, or Morimoto’s and Jones’s transformation of a once-seedy strip of Chestnut Street into a Restaurant Row. And our hopes for an increasingly downtrodden South Street burgeoned when Starr opened Pizzeria Stella in September.
6. Ruben Amaro Jr. & Charlie Manuel, lifestyle
General Manager and Manager, Phillies
Both new to list
Behold the power to keep a city watching with bated breath. The power to determine, as a pair, our mood for an entire summer, and a good chunk of the fall. The power to bring business to bars and sports stores all over the city for weeks on end. The power to make us — jaded, cynical us — believe in our team, the losingest-franchise-in-sports-history-turned-freaking-World–Champions. With every decision by Manuel, 65, about batting lineups and closers, and such hires as Raul Ibanez and Cliff Lee by Amaro, 44, these two hold sway over our collective psyche, too. They’ve got the power to make us dance in the streets.
7. Bob Brady, influencer
2005: 6 :: 2000: 10
He may have lost the ’07 mayoral primary, but Brady’s still the chief of the Dems in this one-party town, which means our patronage system rolls on. With his D.C. appointment to chair the Committee on House Administration, Brady’s sort of the Capitol’s mayor, overseeing expense budgets and who gets the good offices — a favor-currying power right up his alley. The fact that he’s a seven-time-elected white Congressman from a predominantly African–American district basically means he defies racial politics. Brady, 64, will always be the -Kramdenesque darling of organized labor and his district’s Joe Palookas, but he’s failed to make inroads with Philly’s chardonnay business-and-legal-power crowd. (This is, after all, the guy who wore an Eagles jersey to attend Obama’s stop at 30th Street Station en route to inauguration.) But that’s probably just how he likes it. Take note, Mayor Nutter: There’s a certain power that comes with not worrying what other people think.
8. Amy Gutmann, institutional
President, University of Pennsylvania
2005: 24 :: 2000: Not on list
She’s at the helm of the city’s largest private employer, but back in ’05, we said Penn’s then new-ish president had room to improve when it came to citywide civic efforts. Since then, she’s co-chaired Nutter’s transition team, and is turning the 24-acre cement eyesore on West Philly’s Schuylkill shore into Penn Park, an impressively contemporary green space. Some complain her constant fund-raising makes Gutmann, who turns 60 this month, hard to access, but she’s implemented a no-loan/all-grant aid system for undergrads with financial need, and has raised $2.52 billion.
9. Sister Mary Scullion, transformational
Executive Director, Project H.O.M.E.
2005: Not on list :: 2000: 93
Over the years, this magazine has referred to Sister Mary as “the consummate Philly insider” and a “hell-raiser who initiated a task force in response to City Council’s crackdown on the homeless in Center City.” Since 1989, this Northeast Philly native’s Project H.O.M.E. has taken more than 8,000 of our fellow Philadelphians off the street, trained many for jobs, treated their illnesses, built their homes and shaped their futures (and ours). Neighborhoods, too, benefit. In 2004, Kate’s Place low-income housing opened on a quiet stretch of Sansom; today its neighbors include two swanky Jose Garces restaurants. You’d be hard-pressed to find a philanthropist (Lynne and Harold Honickman) or celebrity (Bon Jovi) who won’t open a wallet or just show up to help, should Sister Mary ask.
10. Charles Ramsey, institutional
Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department
New to list
With guns everywhere and tensions high during his near-two-year tenure, Ramsey, 59, has put a glimmer of hope on city streets by lowering an atrocious murder rate — by about 30 percent since 2007. Plus, 20 percent more homicides are actually getting solved. He’s held citizens and cops accountable in ways that haven’t always pleased them — a “Stop, Question and Frisk” policy riled critics, and he’s been stern with his besieged force, too, dismissing four officers caught on video beating suspects even though a grand jury later cleared them. He’s got national cred as well: Our chief was one of 12 people picked in September for a panel set to review Cambridge’s Henry Louis Gates dustup.
11. Brian Roberts, transformational
2005: 11 :: 2000: 9
Roberts, 50, not only runs Philly’s most valuable company and fourth-largest employer; he’s literally helped reshape the city’s skyline with the shimmering Comcast Center. (In negotiations with AT&T a few years ago, the idea of moving company HQ to New York was off the table.) Now the cable behemoth, which failed in a takeover attempt of Disney in 2004, is in advanced talks to take over NBC Universal- — which could give Philadelphia a seat at the -entertainment/broadcasting table right next to New York and L.A.
12. H.F. “Gerry” & Marguerite Lenfest, transformational
2005: 29 (Gerry) :: 2000: Not on list
Proof that money talks — and that Big Money talks really loudly. Since deciding a decade ago to give away their cable TV fortune, the Lenfests have shelled out $800 million and made possible some of Philly’s highest-profile projects — including the Barnes’s move to the city, and major expansions at the Museum of Art (to whom they’ve given $93 million) and the Curtis Institute. With all that money comes control: Gerry now simultaneously chairs the boards of the Art Museum, Curtis, and the American Revolution Center. But even billion-dollar fortunes run out, and Gerry, 79, has said they can no longer keep giving at the same pace.
13. Bart Blatstein, lifestyle
President, Tower Investments
2005: 32 :: 2000: Not on list
After a few decades transforming tracts into strip malls, this developer, 55, has succeeded in transforming an entire neighborhood. Blatstein’s über-modern mixed-use projects around the Piazza at Schmidts (the old brewery) and Liberties Walk (retail-and-restau-bar-fronted apartments) have turned Northern Liberties into the new Old City. Elsewhere, he’s converting the state office building at Broad and Spring Garden into apartments, and building a new student tower at Temple. Blatstein’s rep for getting stuff built should help with his next project: a real estate investment fund focused on Philly development.
14. Steven Altschuler, institutional
President and CEO, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
2005: 30 :: 2000: Not on list
To understand Altschuler’s rise on this list, you’ve only got to stand on 34th Street where it nears the river and look up at glass-encased CHOP. Throughout his decade at the reins, Altschuler has overseen an ongoing $1.1 billion expansion of the hospital. More important, Altschuler has overseen an expansion of the facility’s reputation: When the 57-year-old president and CEO arrived, CHOP was best known as America’s oldest pediatric hospital. Now it’s widely regarded as the best, topping nationwide lists year after year in a variety of critical fields, including cardiac and cancer.
15. Steve Cozen, influencer
Chairman, Cozen O’Connor
2005: Not on list :: 2000: 77
While the rest of the law industry is hunkering down due to the economy, Cozen, 70, and vice chairman Pat O’Connor are assembling a dream team at their namesake law firm, with heavyweights like Tad Decker (ex-Gaming Control Board chair), David Girard-diCarlo (ex-Blank Rome chair and ambassador to Austria), Mark Alderman (ex-Wolf Block chair) and Nelson Diaz (ex-City Solicitor). Cozen also plays in the political arena, with close ties to Rendell, Brady, Camden County freeholder Jeffrey Nash (a firm member) and Congressman Pat Murphy (a former firm associate). The firm’s latest venture: a D.C.-based lobbying office that will no doubt take advantage of all those connections.
16. Michael Nutter, institutional
Mayor of Philadelphia
2005: 20 :: 2000: Not on list
Since ’05, when he was a councilman, Nutter’s moved up only four notches on our list, and the rise is mostly due to his new job title. Though he dodged a bullet with the latest budget crisis (Plan C averted), the 52-year-old mayor could have been a hero with his first budget address, before the recession hit — but he ignored the city’s already fiscally perilous situation and raised spending. He’s got a rep for micromanaging, and with no clear second banana in his administration, folks are trying to claw past each other for the job. While he deserves credit for hiring police commish Ramsey, he’s got turnover issues, too. Some of his biggest hires — Wendell Pritchett (research and planning) Andy Altman (Commerce) and Mark Alan Hughes (sustainability) — spent a year or so going unnoticed before punching “Eject.” But we’re not giving up on him. That he’s this high on the list reflects just how much more we think Nutter could accomplish if he started behaving like the man we voted for.
17. Jane Golden, willpower
Executive Director, Mural Arts Program
New to list
If “Yes we can” is our country’s new motto, then community organizers are the new power crowd. Chief among them: Golden, 56, founder and leader of an internationally heralded part-public, part-private nonprofit whose mission is to transform our city one schoolkid, prisoner, neighborhood block — one art project — at a time. She wrests grants from misers, navigates City Hall with unprecedented grace, partners with graffiti writers and world-renowned painters, mentors 2,000 youths a year, and has created 3,000 public displays of art, earning groundbreaking stimulus money for Mural Arts, worldwide recognition for Philadelphia, and our vote, should she ever choose to run for mayor.
18. William Sasso, influencer
Chairman, Stradley Ronon
New to list
In a town of Democrats, this Republican still gets respect and is sought out by both parties. At 62, he runs a quiet but powerful law firm and often operates behind the scenes, making deals and dispensing legal and strategic advice to boldface names. The Cardinal Dougherty grad was Chamber of Commerce chair from 2003 to 2004, and still chairs Chamber committees. Stradley Ronon might not be one of the bigger firms in Philadelphia, but you wouldn’t know it, because of Sasso’s civic boosterism. He has his hand in major regional issues like Catholic education, the Free Library and health care.
19. Rebecca Rimel, institutional
President and CEO, the Pew Charitable Trusts
2005: 1 :: 2000: 6
The elegant, silver-haired Rimel, 58, topped our list in 2005 because she controlled arguably the most preeminent charitable philanthropy in the nation. Her power manifested itself all over town, most notably in her successful battle to move the Barnes to the Parkway. Alas, she’s now more likely to be found clinking her champagne flute on Capitol Hill than in Chestnut Hill; in December, Pew added a large presence in the nation’s capital to focus its attention — and considerable cash — on more national, politically sexy endeavors: climate change and early childhood education. Which makes writing a check to save The Gross Clinic seem a tad wan in comparison.
20. Constantine Papadakis, transformational
President, Drexel University, 1995 to 2009
2005: Not on list :: 2000: 57
We’ve never listed anyone who had passed away, but Drexel president Constantine “Taki” Papadakis warrants an exception. His school has become a case study in entrepreneurship, excellence and growth. He led the acquisition of a money-losing med school and turned it around; started a new law school; grew the enrollment; built up the campus; and started to chisel away at the “commuter school” culture. If that was all, it would be solid. But Papadakis was a community and business leader. His interpretation of what it meant to be a university president became the gold standard. Drs. Gutmann and Hart, take notes.
21. Andy Reid, lifestyle
Coach, Philadelphia Eagles
New to list
Nothing taps into our wellbeing as Philadelphians like the Eagles’ success (read: failure). Eleven years into running the team, Big Red’s near-misses have been our ultimate tease, but the strange signing of quarterback/dog-abuser Michael Vick and a deep draft have given renewed hope for this year’s younger and faster version. Plus, Reid, 51, is utilizing that youth in oddball formations and plays. Maybe …
22. Carl Greene, transformational
Executive Director, Philadelphia Housing Authority
New to list
Brought in by Ed Rendell in 1998 to transform the housing authority, Greene, 53, actually made the patronage-ridden dumping ground legit. Remember the projects Southwark, Martin Luther King, Richard Allen, Tasker Homes? He rebuilt them all. His agency is the largest city landlord, overseeing more than 15,000 rental units, and one of the best; a decade ago, the average wait for a PHA service call was 209 days; now, it’s 10. Greene’s latest score: securing the third largest HUD allocation of stimulus money in the country to get housing renovation projects going again, which will create an estimated 2,200 jobs locally.
23. Dick Hayne, lifestyle
Chairman of the Board and President, Urban Outfitters
New to list
Urban’s intensely private billionaire co–founder has built an -international — and, so far, recession-proof — empire of cool. His success secret: a honed knack for delivering retail -environments — and goods — that women want, even before they know they want them. Away from work, Hayne, 62, quietly wields his influence, surreptitiously gifting Drexel $25 million for expansion of its arts and design center, presiding over Springside’s board of trustees, furnishing -private-school scholarships to needy Philly kids, pioneering tenancy at the Navy Yard, and turning his green thumb into Terrain in Glen Mills, the country’s prettiest, hippest, newest garden-center concept.
24. Bill Hankowsky, influencer
CEO, Liberty Property Trust
2005: Not on list :: 2000: 34
Hankowsky is taking the green building movement very seriously: Liberty has dozens of LEED -projects — from Philadelphia to -Arizona — done or in the works. And in the role he assumed from Willard Rouse, he seems to be deftly steering his Malvern-based $5.4 billion real estate investment trust and commercial development firm through these tough economic times. While Hankowsky didn’t make our list in ’05, we did note then that he was a well-respected, under-the-radar power broker. Still one of those guys everyone seems to admire, he has risen on our list owing to his part in the changes to our city skyline: One source says he’s the reason the Liberty-developed Comcast Center can lay claim to eco-friendly LEED certification — the nation’s tallest building with that distinction. We’re grateful, too, for the little, curse-breaking William Penn statue he affixed to its top.
25. Dominic Pileggi, influencer
PA Senate Majority Leader
New to list
Pileggi, who turns 52 this month, has risen fast since 2002, when he joined the Pennsylvania State Senate to represent the 9th District, which includes parts of Delco and Chesco. He took over as Republican leader in 2006 and has set himself up as something of an anti-Fumo, working to make the state’s government what it’s never been: transparent. Last year he pushed through a rewrite of the Open Records Law. He was front-and-center during this fall’s budget-wrangling; going forward, insiders say he could exercise considerable power as the anti-Fumo in another way: by blocking state funding for city-based initiatives.
26. Harold Epps, influencer
President and CEO, PRWT Services
New to list
Even though PRWT’s bid to go public failed this year, Epps is the highly regarded new businessman on the block. The 57-year-old North Carolina native took over the day-to-day tasks at PRWT (one of the largest minority-owned companies in Philly; it’s provided business process services to governments for more than 20 years, and last year got into pharmaceutical manufacturing) from founder Willie Johnson in ’08. The company’s leadership is a who’s who of the politically connected — George Burrell, Jerry Johnson, Mark Schweiker. This year, Mayor Nutter tapped Epps to chair a task force on tax policy and economic competitiveness, where he’s earned respect for his no-nonsense approach.
27. Jeremy Nowak, willpower
President, the Reinvestment Fund
New to list
Nonprofit scrappers and business CEOs alike praise Nowak’s skill at getting money to deserving revitalization projects in struggling neighborhoods (from housing and grocery stores to artists’ workspaces and the Mastery Charter Schools), particularly the “early dollars,” which are the riskiest. Since Nowak, 57, founded the Reinvestment Fund in 1985, it’s sunk about $650 million into the region, leveraging about $1.9 billion in total development, mostly in places that at one time seemed hopeless.
28. Judith von Seldeneck, influencer
CEO, Diversified Search Odgers Berndtson
2005: 7 :: 2000: Not on list
Name the local CEO, and chances are von Seldeneck has recruited, placed, advised, mentored or cheer-led him or her, including Ed Notebaert at Temple Health and Ted Peters at Bryn Mawr Trust, to cite just two. Her company is one of the most influential headhunting firms in the nation, but her clout increasingly comes from her role as girlfriend-in-chief of a feisty sorority of the city’s most powerful women (Midge Rendell, Judy Spires, Camille Barnett) and her more stealthy one as key adviser in the Nutter kitchen cabinet.
29. Marc Vetri, lifestyle
New to list
There are charity events, and then there are charity events that bring celeb chefs like Bobby Flay to town and raise $300,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. But that’s not why Marc Vetri is so important to us. (Neither is the fact that his namesake restaurant has been called the best in America, or that he’s expanded foodie horizons with pizza on North Broad.) Instead, Vetri’s on our list because by emphasizing cooperation over competition, he’s changed the way the restaurant industry works in this city. He’s brought talented chefs through the ranks in his kitchens, then encouraged them to do their own thing. And that’s added depth to our restaurant scene, giving us some of the region’s best eateries — Blackfish, Zahav, Xochitl and James. So far.
30. Carl Dranoff, transformational
President, Dranoff Properties
New to list
Whatever your opinion of his Symphony House on Broad Street, this 61-year-old real estate developer has been erecting and rehabbing buildings at an incredible pace since forming his -Philadelphia-headquartered company 11 years ago — and is changing city streets in the process. World Cafe Live in West Philly, Venice Lofts in Manayunk, 777 South Broad in South Philly, the Victor in Camden — the list goes on in a mostly neighborhood-revamping, residential-and-retail-mix manner. Everyone else seems to have given up on the Camden dream, but this Drexel grad plans to break ground next year on another -condo-rise, called Radio Lofts, across the river. We thought he was brave when he publicly fired back at Inquirer architecture critic Inga Saffron in a letter to the editor after she panned Symphony House. He must be: He’s venturing into sharky Main Line waters with a downtown overhaul in Ardmore.
31. David Haas, influencer
Chairman of the Board, William Penn Foundation
New to list
Throughout the year-long battle to force Dow Chemical to close its $16.3 billion purchase of Rohm & Haas, the key player representing the Haas family was third-generation member David W. Haas, 54. His willingness to reinvest family proceeds back into Dow probably helped seal the deal. David’s recent move to shore up the capital in Brian Tierney’s fight to keep the Inquirer suggests a very local-activist deployment of Haas family resources. With the Annenbergs gone, Pew focusing on national issues, and the Lenfests reaching the bottom of their barrel, David Haas may emerge as Philly’s knight in shining coin.
32. Frank Baldino, influencer
Chairman and CEO, Cephalon
New to list
Two decades after incubating bio-pharma global giant Cephalon out of the labs of DuPont, Baldino, 56, has emerged as a go-to corporate guy for the sciences through leadership at Temple, Pennsylvania Bio and the Franklin Institute. Baldino co-founded BioAdvance, which invests in biotech start-ups; though he’s respected by area CEOs, he has yet to flex his civic muscles to lead a charge that creates a life-sciences environment to compete with Boston and San Fran. If he’s up to it, so is the region.
33. Daniel Fitzpatrick, influencer
President and CEO, Citizens Bank, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware
New to list
We know — there are no “local” banks anymore. But this 46-year-old native Philadelphian and La Salle/Drexel grad sure does have a knack for making New England-headquartered Citizens feel like our neighborhood banker. With game-day visibility behind the Phillies’ home plate, and his name attached to committees, task forces, countless nonprofit donations and ribbon-cutting ceremonies, we’re starting to think of him as our very own George Bailey.
34. Jerry Mondesire, influencer
President, Philadelphia NAACP
2005: 35 :: 2000: 83
As president of the local NAACP and publisher and editor of the Philadelphia Sun, Mondesire has the power of the media pulpit. That he occasionally uses it to engage in puffery, like his shots at Donovan McNabb, means he sometimes raises tension. And while his defense of Michael Vick also seemed like grandstanding, it’s his job to speak out about the kinds of treatment previously incarcerated African-American males receive after they’ve done their time. In other words, watchdogs are paid to bark — and Mondesire, 60, does. Loudly. As one observer notes: “Jerry is a guy I would much rather have on my side than the other side.”
35. Ann Weaver Hart, institutional
President, Temple University
New to list
Three years ago, she became the first female prez in the history of the city’s largest (37,000 students strong) public university. But while she’s posted some management wins (she breezed through recent negotiations with faculty on a new contract deal), her profile has remained low. She hopes to change that with Temple’s just-announced “20/20” project, an ambitious multi-year development initiative that aims to do for North Broad what Penn did for West Philly — in effect, renew and reinvent it. We’re hoping this is her way of stepping out of the shadows of Gutmann, Papadakis, Adamany and Liacouras.
36. Paul Levy, influencer
President, Center City District
2005: 39 :: 2000: 33
The Center City District grew up in the 1990s sweeping sidewalks. Now, in its 19th year under Levy, CCD is pushing real money all over town for visible city-boosting projects, like creating the first freestanding cafe on the Ben Franklin Parkway, at 16th Street, and redoing Aviator Park across from the Franklin Institute. By focusing on doable, high-impact projects, Levy, 62, has deftly navigated roller-coaster economics and local politics. (Honestly, we wish he’d just run for something already.) But CCD’s biggest plan yet, a proposed $45 million rethink of Dilworth Plaza around City Hall, will test his track record.
37. Zack Stalberg, willpower
President and CEO, Committee of Seventy
2005: 23 :: 2000: 24
Now almost five years into running the ethical watchdog group Committee of Seventy, Stalberg, 62, is pushing Mayor Nutter to see the economic mess as an opportunity to shrink and modernize his government. The group backs its goading with well-researched and bold reports on issues like eliminating patronage jobs and reforming the BRT. Stalberg runs comfortably with the power crowd — Seventy’s board includes everyone from Bill Sasso (see #18) to Judee von Seldeneck (see #28) — but with his two-decades-plus stint as editor of the Daily News, he’s got the goods to agitate for change from within that same crowd. He even landed Veep Biden as a guest at this fall’s Seventy fund-raiser.
38. Ron Rubin, transformational
Chairman and CEO, Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust
2005: 18 :: 2000: 21
The 78-year-old Rubin has slipped on our list because he’s more involved in developing malls up and down the East Coast than building in the city, and his last big enterprise in town may be a slots parlor. Still, he was instrumental in rebuilding downtown by pushing for creation of the Center City District and developing or renovating a score of big buildings (including a refitting of part of the old Strawbridge’s for state government offices over the past year). Plus, he remains a go-to guy for Democratic fund-raising and adept at working City Hall to greenlight projects.
39. Meryl Levitz, influencer
CEO, Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation
2005: 49 :: 2000: 44
Ever since Rendell slated Levitz, 62, to run GPTMC in 1996, the industry’s taken off (worth an estimated $9.3 billion each year in economic impact; responsible for more than 88,225 jobs). It’s almost all thanks to Levitz’s ability to constantly reinvent the plan (i.e., Philly should market itself to overnighters, should market itself to gays, and, now, should market itself to African-Americans ages 25 to 35) and constantly reengage the city brass with fresh ideas.
40. Sharon Pinkenson, willpower
Executive Director, -Greater Philadelphia Film Office
New to list
Pinkenson, 61, has helped turn Philadelphia into a filmmaking center. Jack, Reese, Jake, Demi and Jamie wouldn’t be sipping champagne at Parc and brunching at Du Jour if not for her vision. Her most impressive performance has been in Harrisburg, where conservative uplanders have sought to end the “subsidy for Hollywood” tax. With Rendell as her ally, she got the film tax credit partially preserved. Though the Film Office has created an infrastructure — studios, labor arrangements, street closings and production teams — that’s made Philadelphia a film director’s dream, we worry that losing Rendell might dash our dreams of getting discovered.
41. Philadelphia Inquirer, institutional
Paper of Record, Philadelphia
Control of the paper seems to be slipping from Brian Tierney to … hedge funds and other creditors, and it’s become a parlor sport to trash the shrinking Inquirer, but it still reminds us why a big-city paper of record is vital. Its relentless digging into Vince Fumo led to his conviction this year, and more recently, the series on the Board of Revision of Taxes is forcing the overhaul of the agency.
42. Jeff Cole, willpower
Investigative reporter, Fox 29
New to list
“Can I ask you a question as we get off your property … ” “What is racist about me asking you about your publicly paid employee and her hours?” No government hack wants a visit from Cole and his camera crew, whose crusading ambush interviews have kept alive the quaint notion that local TV can do investigative journalism. Cole, 51, has saved taxpayers a few bucks exposing questionable time sheets of folks like City Council employee Latrice Bryant, and perk-happy local judges who fly to Hawaii on educational junkets.
43. Jerry Jordan & Pete Matthews, influencers
President, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers; President, AFSCME District Council 33
Both new to list
For more than a decade, organized labor in Philadelphia was dominated by the building trades. But these two leaders — Jerry Jordan (top) helms the teachers, and Herman “Pete” Matthews the blue-collar city workers — now have the clout, the membership and the pressure to exert enormous influence on the city’s day-to-day well-being. And both unions are working under multiple extensions of their contracts. New talks are in the offing: The teachers will square off against school district chief Arlene Ackerman, and the city workers against Nutter. Meanwhile, the city has budgeted nothing for increases in employee wages or benefits, and we hear that teachers are unhappy with Ackerman.
44. Kenny Gamble, willpower
Chairman, Universal Companies
2005: 22 :: 2000: 94
Gamble’s Universal Companies continues to accumulate land, run schools and develop properties, mostly in South Philadelphia, recently opening a playground with philanthropist David Pincus and partnering with Carl Dranoff on the 777 South Broad loft building. The music icon remains one of the city’s legit boldface names and ambassadors, working to bring a rhythm-and-blues museum and hall of fame to Philly.
45. Nick Stuccio, willpower
Producing Director, Live Arts -Festival & Philly Fringe
New to list
No sooner did the 2009 festival come to a close (after 200 artists performed in more than 120 venues and sold 24,276 tickets) than Stuccio was on his way to Dublin, searching for new ideas for next year’s festival. His enthusiasm for orchestrating Philly’s annual multi-day feast of the multi-talented (many from our city) hasn’t dampened after 13 years. And though he acknowledges creativity of the budgeting kind will be required next year, he’ll make it happen, he says, because “Philadelphia deserves it.” So we’ll just say thank you (and buy tickets).
46. Rina Cutler, willpower
Deputy Mayor, Transportation and Utilities
New to list
There’s a reason why Cutler, 56, is the only Nutter-ite to make our list. In an administration in which all roads lead through Michael Nutter’s head, the deputy mayor for transportation is the only one who seems to have found the thruway. Insiders say Cutler has the necessary degree of confidence and political savvy to make sure her department’s initiatives don’t languish on the Mayor’s desk. Her achievements thus far: a cell phone lot at the airport, and initiatives to make the city more pedestrian-friendly. Now we’re hoping for that trolley system down to the waterfront.
47. Arlene Ackerman, institutional
CEO, School District of Philadelphia
New to list
The job — overseeing the education of more than 160,000 of Philadelphia’s children — is so important to our city that whoever has it has to be on our power list. But rarely has a new public-schools chief given off signs of being a short-termer so early in. Ackerman, 62, did release a five-year-plan, Imagine 2014, which pushes — among other things — to close schools that are underperforming and open new charters in their place, to assign the best teachers to the city’s hardest-to-staff schools, and to offer teachers pay incentives for results. But she’s apparently got a habit of alienating teachers and, well, a lot of other people, too. School reform commissioner Heidi Ramírez asked too many questions for Ackerman’s taste, which eventually led to Ramírez’s resignation. Though Dwight Evans seems to be a fan, we hear supporters may be defecting.
48. John Dougherty, influencer
Business Manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98
2005: 13 :: 2000: 67
Dougherty, 49, is a onetime totemic figure in Philly politics whose power is slipping. He tried to be a kingmaker, backing Tom Knox for mayor and Dan McCaffery for D.A., but both lost. He even ran -himself — for longtime enemy Vince Fumo’s State Senate seat — and lost to a political neophyte. But Dougherty’s electricians union still retains some influence on Election Day — 500 rank-and- file members with campaign signs are hard to ignore. And as one admirer puts it, “He still gets calls from people who want to run for office, because they want his support.” No wonder: Dougherty’s union gave more than $6 million to campaigns during the 2007-’08 election cycle.
49. Ahmeenah Young, institutional
CEO, Pennsylvania Convention Center
New to list
The city placed a huge bet on tourism and hospitality in the mid-’90s, and we’ve essentially doubled down with the expansion of the Convention Center that will bring it up to nearly a million square feet. Young’s experience in tourism and hospitality makes her a good fit for this assignment, but her connections to Dwight Evans and Carl Singley surely didn’t hurt. That Evans link should only help more as Young navigates the politics of running the place, negotiating labor agreements and maintaining relationships with the hospitality industry with an eye toward delivering a great experience for conventioneers, event planners and major trade organizations. Though the recession has whacked travel budgets, and the likes of Chicago and Vegas mount major competition, many think she’s up to her task.
50. Freshman Three, influencers
Philadelphia City Council Members
All new to list
As political bodies go, our City Council is something less than esteemed. Members recently roused themselves from slumber only long enough to protest the Mayor’s suggestion that they give up their city cars. Worse, when it came time to do something smart — like pass a ban on plastic bags — they failed. If there’s any reason for optimism, it’s that the so-called Freshman Three seem to be making slow, steady progress. Bill Green (top), Curtis Jones and Maria Quiñones–Sánchez all arrived together, and while they haven’t coalesced into a clear voting bloc, that seems to be part of their power. Who would have thought that on a Council once dominated by Fumocrats, three members would be charting a new course in which everybody talks to everybody, and their votes (at least) are truly independent? Green (who’s emerging as a ringleader) may alienate his colleagues from time to time, but his expertise on budget issues is clear. Quiñones-Sánchez retains the gravitas of a community organizer (take that, Sarah Palin!), and Jones is perhaps the most circumspect, a pol who picks his battles wisely.