Heavy Hitters on Jim Kenney’s New Policy Team

Alba Martinez, Ellen Kaplan, Philip Rinaldi and more.

Photo Credit | Matt Rourke, AP

[Updated at 2:15 p.m. It seems there was some sort of miscommunication between the Kenney camp and Sister Mary Scullion, because Project HOME tells us she is NOT on any Kenney policy committee and would offer the same advice and guidance to any candidate who asked.]

Alba Martinez, a senior executive at Vanguard who flirted with running for mayor herself, will chair a new Jim Kenney campaign policy committee rife with big names.

Who else is on the list? Lauren Vidas, a lobbyist, former city official and chair of the South of South Neighborhood Association, who will be Martinez’s number two. Philip Rinaldi, CEO of the South Philadelphia refinery operation and the architect of the Philadelphia energy hub strategy, is part of a big economic development advisory team. Sister Mary Scullion will co-chair the committee’s “social justice” team. Ellen Kaplan, the longtime number-two of the Committee of Seventy, will head up Kenney’s government ethics team. Kenney has brought in three big names to help with education: Otis D. Hackney III, principal of South Philadelphia High, Father George Bur, the president of St. Joe’s Prep (Kenney’s alma mater) and Jurate Krokys, who founded the well-regarded Independence Charter School (district, check; Catholic, check; charter, check).

How much does any of this matter?

Well, it’s certainly notable that Alba Martinez, who has a lot of fans in this town, is backing Kenney in this way. It’s also encouraging to see a campaign focus on policy, which has not been a real hallmark of this race to date. On the other hand, it’s often the case that these big name policy committees don’t end up doing a lot of real work (they all have day jobs too). We’ll see if these advisors will give Kenney’s campaign enough policy heft to stand out in this crowded field.

Details on Kenney’s picks are in the press release below.


Alba Martinez
Policy Committee Chair

Alba Martinez is a financial services executive. Previously, Martinez served as president and chief executive officer of United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and also as commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS).  Martinez has also served as executive director of Congreso de Latinos Unidos and as a public interest lawyer in Philadelphia.   Active in civic affairs, Martinez is a member of the Main Line Health System Board of Directors. Her Professional and community awards include the University of Pennsylvania Fels School of Government Leadership for Results Award, Philadelphia Business Journal’s Women of Distinction award, the Rutgers Law School’s Mary Philbrook Public Interest Award, the Puerto Rican Week Festival’s Citizen of the Year Award, Equality Forum’s Distinguished Service Award, and the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Fidelity Award.  Martinez received her BA from the University of Puerto Rico and her law degree in 1985 from Georgetown University.

Lauren M. Vidas
Policy Committee Co-Chair

Lauren Vidas serves as President of Hazzouri and Associates.  Prior to co-founding the firm in January 2013, Vidas served as Election Protection Director for the 2012 Obama campaign where she oversaw a team of 2,000 legal volunteers on Election Day. Before joining the Obama campaign, Vidas worked in the Nutter Administration as a Government and External Affairs Specialist and an Assistant to the Finance Director.  Active in the community, Vidas was recently elected as a committeeperson in the 30th Ward, currently chairs the South of South Neighborhood Association, and serves on the boards of Liberty City Democratic Club and Stanton Community Partners.

Otis D. Hackney III
Co-Chair, Education 

Otis Hackney is Principal of South Philadelphia High School. Otis began his career as a certified secondary mathematics teacher at Germantown High School and, after completing his principal’s internship at Overbrook High School in West Philadelphia, was appointed assistant principal of South Philadelphia High School. At the age of 35, Mr. Hackney became the first African-American appointed principal of Springfield Township High School. In July 2010, Mr. Hackney returned to South Philadelphia High School as principal, where he has successfully handled high-profile instances of racially motivated violence — transforming the culture of “Southern” into a model for other urban education systems.

Jurate Krokys
Co-Chair, Education

Jurate Krokys is a veteran urban educator and the CEO of American Paradigm Schools. Previously, Krokys worked as a Special Education teacher for nearly twenty years, and also served for eleven years as the CEO and Founding Principal of Independence Charter School (ICS).  Under her leadership, ICS was ranked one of the most high-performing charter schools in Philadelphia, winning several grants as well as several national and regional awards. She is also the past president and a board member of PaCIE, the Pennsylvania Council for International Education. She serves on the board of Philadelphia Charters for Excellence and is a regional board member of Schools That Can.

Father George Bur
Co-Chair, Education

Fr. George W. Bur, S.J., is the 31st president of St. Joseph’s Preparatory School. Father Bur previously served as special assistant to the President and Rector of the Jesuit Community at St. Joseph’s University. Fr. Bur, was a 1959 graduate of the Prep and also served for nearly 20 years at the Gesu School, the elementary school adjacent to St. Joseph’s Prep, overseeing its transition from an Archdiocesan School to an independent Jesuit institution.

Wanda Mial
Co-Chair, Youth and Families

Wanda Mial has been a leader in the non-profit, governmental, and philanthropic sectors for over twenty years, formerly serving as Senior Vice President at the Philadelphia Education Fund; Senior Program Associate of the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF); Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Christian Alliance (WCA); Chief Deputy Commissioner of Philadelphia’s Department of Human Services; and Deputy Director of Congreso de Latinos Unidos. At AECF, she managed the redesign of a highly complex child welfare system by engaging providers, city officials, funders and other stakeholders in Philadelphia to design and implement the Performance-Based Contracting process for Foster Care agencies, leading the improvement of child safety, permanency and well-being outcomes in 17 states as a part of AECF’s child welfare reform efforts. In 2010, Mial established Mialstones Consulting, which works to enhance, strengthen and streamline family-serving systems and organizations to achieve stronger outcomes for children and families.

Ellen Mattleman Kaplan
Co-Chair, Government Ethics

Ellen Mattleman Kaplan served as the Vice President and Policy Director for nearly ten years at the Committee of Seventy, Philadelphia’s non-partisan government watchdog. Previously, Kaplan served as a Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney under Ed Rendell and as the Associate Director of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a statewide non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to reforming Pennsylvania’s judicial system. Kaplan also served as the Managing Director of Public Policy and Communications at the business and civic-leadership organization Greater Philadelphia First (GPF) and was the Acting CEO during GPF’s merger with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce in 2003.

Sister Mary Scullion
Co-Chair, Social Justice

Sister Mary Scullion joined the Sisters of Mercy and began working on behalf of the homeless and mentally ill in 1976.. She was a co-founder in 1985 of Woman of Hope, which provides permanent residences and support services for homeless mentally ill women. In 1988, she helped to found the Outreach Coordination Center, an innovative program coordinating private and public agencies doing outreach to chronically homeless persons in Center City Philadelphia. The following year she and her associate, Joan Dawson McConnon, co-founded Project H.O.M.E., a nationally recognized organization providing solutions to homelessness and poverty. Her efforts resulted in the right of homeless persons to vote as well as a landmark federal court decision that affects the fair housing rights of persons with disabilities.

Ann O’Callaghan
Co-Chair, Immigration

Ann O’Callaghan is the founder and former CEO of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians. The Welcoming Center is based in Philadelphia and has gained national acclaim for its economic development work by welcoming and connecting foreign-born newcomers who contribute to the New Economy and neighborhood revitalization. O’Callaghan’s efforts have been the driving force in leading a community-wide dialogue in Philadelphia on the positive economic impact of foreign-born talent, entrepreneurs, investors and homeowners.

N. Nina Ahmad
Co-Chair, Immigration

Dr. Nina Ahmad serves on President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She also serves on the boards of Asian Americans/ Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC), and the Women’s Campaign International, which focuses on women’s equality through building skills that help women become effective agents of change. A Bangladeshi-American, she was also appointed by Mayor Nutter as the Chair of the Commission on Asian American Affairs in 2009. Dr. Ahmad was also recently elected to lead the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) as the President for the 2014-2016 term.

Ahsan M. Nasratullah
Co-Chair, Economic Development

Ahsan M. Nasratullah has twenty-seven years of experience in urban planning, development, and real estate finance. He began his career as the Executive Director of a leading Delaware Valley housing-finance and development non-profit, and went on to found three different real estate firms that focus on commercial development, mixed-used real estate projects and attracting foreign investment into economically distressed communities. Over the years, Ahsan has also been active on the Boards of several local institutions, including Mt. Airy USA Community Development Corporation and the United Bank of Philadelphia.

Andrew Toy
Co-Chair, Economic Development

Andrew Toy has worked to grow small businesses and neighborhood commercial corridors for over twenty-five years, beginning at the City of Philadelphia Commerce Department where he managed the Business Services Unit and organized their brownfields program. After working in the Rendell Administration for eight years, Andy constructed the Neighborhood Commercial Corridor Initiative at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and worked at The Enterprise Center (TEC) as Senior Director of Business Development, assisting local minority and other retailers in neighborhood commercial corridors.  Most recently, Andy served as the Managing Director of the Eastern Tower/Chinatown Community Center project, expected to be the largest community led development in Philadelphia’s history. Andy currently serves on the Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs and was an appointee on the Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission.

Philip Rinaldi
Co-Chair, Economic Development

Philip Rinaldi is a principal partner and Chief Executive Officer of Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC. He also serves as a strategic advisor to the Carlyle Group, on the board of TexOak Energy, LLC, and as the Chairman of the Board of Overseers of New Jersey Institute of Technology.  An entrepreneurial industrialist, Rinaldi’s career has focused on energy, chemical and natural resource industries with experience in oil refining, oil exploration, phosphate mining and chemical production, coke gasification, nitrogen chemical production, zinc refining, and production of molybdenum, rhenium and vanadium derivatives.

Julie Coker
Co-Chair, Economic Development

Julie Coker is Senior Vice President, Convention Division, for the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB). Coker oversees a staff of 25 convention sales and services professionals who are responsible for selling the expanding Pennsylvania Convention Center and Philadelphia’s hotel package to customers across the country. Coker joined the PHLCVB after serving as General Manager at Hyatt Regency Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing, the only hotel in the city located on Philadelphia’s revitalized waterfront area. Coker was 1st Vice Chair for the Greater Philadelphia Hospitality and Lodging Association (GPHA), and she also served as a board member with Greater Philadelphia Marketing Corporation (GPTMC).

Angela Val
Co-Chair, Economic Development

As vice president of special projects for VISIT PHILADELPHIA, Angela Val is charged with managing stakeholder relations, board affairs, legislative initiatives, promotional events and grant-related programming. She also oversees the highly successful hotel program, which since 2004 has booked more than 63,000 hotel reservations, accounting for $13 million in revenue for Philadelphia’s hotels. Angela serves as a board member for the 3rd Century Initiative (3CI), a council of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce dedicated to strengthening the economic vitality of the region’s business community, and Philadelphia Hospitality, a group that provides distinctive tours of a rich collection of cultural and historic treasures throughout the region.

Stewart M. Weintraub
Co-Chair, Economic Development

Stewart Weintraub is the SALT Practice Chair at Chamberlain Hrdlicka, where he has focused on issues of taxation for more than 40 years. Stewart helps clients plan and structure transactions in all aspects of state and local tax compliance and litigation, from audits through trials and appeals to the appellate courts. Before entering private practice, he was chief of tax litigation for the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department, during which he also served as chief counsel of the mayor’s Tax Reform Commission. In 2003, he was appointed to serve as a member of the new Tax Reform Commission created by the Home Rule Charter.

William Mills, III
Co-Chair, Economic Development

William Mills, III is the former president of the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey region of PNC Bank, a member of The PNC Financial Services Group. PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services companies in the United States, and Mills, a 34-year financial services veteran, oversaw PNC’s largest region, which includes 170 branches and offices, and nearly 7,000 employees. Mills joined Provident National Bank, (a PNC predecessor), in 1989 as bank treasurer and president of the PNC Funding Corp. He later became senior vice president and managing director of Fixed-Income Investments for PNC Investment Management and Research. Mills was promoted to executive vice president in 1993 in charge of Capital Markets and the bank’s Asset Liability Committee. He was most recently executive vice president in charge of PNC Advisors Wealth Management Division in Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. Mills started his career as a trader and vice president at Merrill Lynch Government Securities Inc., in New York City and moved to Industrial Valley Bank as senior vice president and treasurer. In 1986, Mills was named managing director of the Capital Markets Division at CoreStates Financial Corporation.

Bob Stewart
Co-Chair, Public Safety

Bob Stewart is a police practices expert, who most recently worked on reorganizations of the Cincinnati, San Antonio and Oakland Police Departments. Previously, he served as the Training Director for the Louisville Metro Police Department, the Interim Public Safety Director at Rutgers-Newark University and the Interim Police Director in Camden. Stewart was also the Executive Director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) from 1997 to 2001. An Army veteran and graduate of the FBI National Academy, Stewart is currently a member of the Police Executive Research Forum, and consults for Strategic Policy Partnerships and Berkshire Advisors.

Robert B. Ballentine
Co-Chair, Public Safety

Bob, a lifelong Philadelphian, is a product of the Philadelphia Public Schools. He was a member of the US Naval Air Reserve. He graduated from Temple University in 1998 with a BBA in Risk Management/Insurance and a minor in Finance. Bob completed the Harvard Law School Trade Union Program in 2009. He joined the Philadelphia Police department in 1972 and left active service from the Homicide Division with the rank of Detective in 2002, when he was elected to the Executive Board of the Philadelphia Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 5. Currently Bob holds the position of Recording Secretary.

Allen Hornblum
Co-Chair, Public Safety

Allen M. Hornblum was born and raised in Philadelphia. A product of the Philadelphia public school system, Allen went on to attain degrees from Penn State, Villanova, and Temple Universities. Allen served as Chief-of-Staff of the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office, as a member of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission, and on the Pennsylvania Commission for Crime & Delinquency amongst others. In addition to teaching at Temple and Drexel Universities, Allen has also lectured widely and to a diverse audience of scholars, physicians, and average citizens. He has presented his research to the National Institutes of Health, the British Medical Association, the Fox Chase Cancer Center, and a host of medical schools including Temple, Drexel, and East Carolina.