Board of Trustees Bios
President, Girard College
After serving as the interim president of Girard College, Mr. Armbrister became president of Girard in spring 2014. At the College, he has steered the institution through a Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges reaccreditation; supervised a community celebration of the 45th anniversary of the desegregation of Girard College, which included participation by several of Girard’s first students of color; and is currently overseeing the enhancement of the school-wide curriculum and the adoption of the Common Core State Standards..
Mr. Armbrister’s previous positions in higher education include chief operating officer at Temple University and managing director of the Philadelphia School District. Mr. Armbrister also served as chief of staff to Mayor Michael A. Nutter for three years, where he led the daily operations of the administration and its 23,000 public employees. He was also the Philadelphia City Treasurer from 1994 to 1996, served as a partner in the Public Finance department at the Saul Ewing law firm and worked as an investment banker at UBS.Currently, Mr. Armbrister is a member of the board of directors of the National Adoption Center, and formerly served as president.
Mr. Armbrister earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Doctor of Law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.
Executive Director, University City District
Matthew Bergheiser is Executive Director of University City District (UCD), a nonprofit neighborhood improvement organization with a $10 million annual budget and 85 professional and public maintenance employees. UCD assists the continuing economic and real estate development renaissance of West Philadelphia from 29th Street to 50th Street. Previously, he was regional director of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, where he oversaw a grantmaking budget of more than $6 million that funded transformational projects that helped communities reach their highest potential.
To help create employment opportunities for Philadelphians, Mr. Bergheiser co-founded the Job Opportunity Investment Network in 2008, a regional effort to advance low-skilled workers into career ladder jobs through partnerships with employers. He was recognized as one of the "40 under 40" business leaders by the Philadelphia Business Journal and as an Emerging Connector by Leadership Philadelphia.
Mr. Bergheiser earned a B.A. from Princeton University and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.
Chief of Staff, The American Board of Internal Medicine
As chief of staff at The American Board of Internal Medicine, Suzanne Biemiller oversees the operations of ABIM's Government Affairs section, where she is responsible for monitoring and coordinating all activities at ABIM. Ms. Biemiller acts as a key representative of Dr. Richard Baron, President and Chief Executive Officer, by supporting communication among all leadership team members.
Ms. Biemiller serves as a board member of the Urban Policy Advisory Group at the Harvard Kennedy School, the Philadelphia Facilities Management Corporation and Women's Way, and secretary of the board for the Fund for Philadelphia.
Ms. Biemiller earned a B.A. from Williams College and a master's in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Philadelphia Works
Mark Edwards is president and chief executive officer of Philadelphia Works, an organization that connects employers to skilled Philadelphians and helps residents develop skills to succeed in the workplace. The organization also provides data on workforce trends and Philadelphia's labor market. He previously served as executive director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which assists residents in revitalizing their neighborhoods and creating healthy and sustainable communities.
A member of the Pennsylvania Association of Workforce Investment Boards, Mr. Edwards is also a member of the Community Development Advisory Board of PNC Bank and a trustee of Peirce College.
Mr. Edwards earned a B.A. from Morehouse College.
Lydia Hernández Vélez, Esq.
Deputy Managing Director for Aging, City of Philadelphia
As deputy managing director for Aging, Ms. Hernández Vélez is responsible for developing a 10-year plan to address the changing needs of seniors and creating ways to simplify how seniors can access services. Most recently, she served as head of the regional chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is dedicated to blood cancer research, education and patient services. Previously she was senior vice president of Community Relations, Atlantic Region, for Wachovia Bank.
Involved with youth education and leadership for the Latino community, Ms. Hernández Vélez has been a member of Aspira, Inc. of Pennsylvania for nearly 30 years and currently serves as chair of their board of directors. In 2007, she was named one of the Most Influential Latino Leaders in the Delaware Valley by Impacto Latin Newspaper.
Ms. Hernández Vélez earned a B.A. from Barnard College and a J.D. from the School of Law at Hofstra University. She also received certificates in Management of Critical Resources from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia and in Corporate Responsibility from the School of Business at Harvard University.
V. Steve Herzog
Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning, Philadelphia Energy Solutions
Mr. Herzog has been the senior vice president of Strategic Planning at Philadelphia Energy Solutions since October 2012. He previously served as director of Strategic Planning and Execution and as refinery general manager at Sunoco. Throughout his career, he has held operations, maintenance and technical positions at refineries, and has assisted with the sale of refineries in different locations around the country.
Committed to assisting students in meeting their educational goals, Mr. Herzog served on the Board of Governors of Philadelphia Academies, a nonprofit organization that helps prepare Philadelphia public school students for careers and postsecondary education, for twelve years. Mr. Herzog also created a training program with high school students, where they learned how to become operators in the process industry.
Chief of Staff
Mayor's Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity, City of Philadelphia
As deputy director of Policy Planning and Coordination, Mary Horstmann's responsibilities include overseeing policy and planning for the city's anti-poverty measures, and leading the reorganization of the city's workforce development system. She is also the project lead for Digital On-Ramps, an initiative designed to provide a digital framework for delivering comprehensive education and workforce training to youth and adults. Her previous positions include deputy recovery officer in the City of Philadelphia Recovery Office and interim state director/Pennsylvania program director at the Center for Progressive Leadership.
Ms. Horstmann is a fundraising trainer for Teach for America, a Pennsylvania faculty member for the Center for Progressive Leadership and a young friend of Project H.O.M.E.
Willie F. Johnson
Founder and Chairman, PRWT Services, Inc.
Mr. Johnson is the founder and chairman of PRWT Services, Inc., one of the largest minority-owned business services firms in the nation. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Cheyney University Foundation, The Girard College Foundation and Allen University, as well as The Philadelphia Tribune and U.S. Facilities, Inc.
Mr. Johnson earned a B.A. from Allen University and a Master's of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.
Chad Dion Lassiter
Director; Recovery and Red Cross House Emergency Services
American Red Cross, Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter
Chad Dion Lassiter is nationally recognized in the fields of American race relations and violence prevention among African-American males. His research interest attempts to contribute to a more informed analysis of the diverse ways that adolescents and families, especially people of color, cope with socioeconomic challenges and institutional racism.
Mr. Lassiter is affiliated with the Black Men at Penn School of Social Work, Inc. at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice. The group, which he co-founded, seeks to recruit black males into the profession of social work and provide anti-racism and violence prevention training to urban and suburban schools around the country. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a visiting lecturer at West Chester University.
As the co-director of FAMILY (Fostering, Adopting and Mentoring to Improve the Lives of Youth), Inc., Mr. Lassiter works with youth to improve their life outcomes by providing mentors to those who have a parent incarcerated in a state or federal prison. In addition, he is an appointee of Mayor Nutter to the Prison Board of Trustees.
His awards include the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Involvement Award from the University of Pennsylvania and the A. Phillip Randolph Award from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Social Work. In February 2003, Mr. Lassiter was chosen by Ebony Magazine as one of the "Young Leaders of the Future Under 30."
Mr. Lassiter earned a B.S.W. from Johnson C. Smith University and an M.S.W. from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Social Work.
President and CEO, The Urban League of Philadelphia
In her role as president and CEO of the Urban League of Philadelphia, Ms. McPherson leads an organization that seeks to connect individuals, community-based groups, civic organizations and businesses dedicated to improving the social and economic well-being of African-Americans throughout the region.
Before joining the Urban League, Ms. McPherson was president and founder of The ROZ Group, Inc., a firm that provided construction management of historic sites and museum exhibitions; strategic planning; and marketing and communications to corporations, governmental agencies, and nonprofit institutions.
Prior to launching her firm, Ms. McPherson had a distinguished career in educational publishing and subsequently museum administration. She also served as an adjunct professor at the School of Business in Rutgers University in New Jersey.
A committed civic leader, Ms. McPherson sits on the boards of a number of associations, including the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, National Philanthropic Trust and First Person Arts. She recently served on the Advisory Council for Drexel University’s School of Media Arts and Design and for Temple University’s Public Relations department. Her recognitions include the 2012 Madame CJ Walker Award for Women Entrepreneurs from the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
Ms. McPherson earned a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Southern University A&M College and an M.B.A. from Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Executive Director, Mayor's Commission on Literacy
As the executive director of the Mayor's Commission on Literacy, Judith Rényi, Ph.D., has worked to ensure access to high quality learning opportunities that will help adults to enter the knowledge economy. She has created neighborhood-based adult learning communities; integrated adult literacy with workforce development; maximized the use of instructional technologies; and implemented real-time online referrals, testing and placement. The Commission's work provides policy advice to the city, the commonwealth and the nation. Her past positions include dean of the Schools of Graduate and Professional Studies at Rosemont College, and president and chief executive officer of The NEA Foundation for the Improvement of Education.
In addition, Dr. Rényi has extensive faculty development experience as a dean at New York University and nationally through her former work managing national school reform projects for The Rockefeller Foundation. She serves on the boards of Philadelphia Works, Inc., and FairTest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing the misuse of standardized testing.
Dr. Rényi earned an A.B. from the University of Pennsylvania; an M.A. from the University of Warwick, England; and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
The Honorable James R. Roebuck, Jr.
Pennsylvania State Representative, 188th Legislative District
Rep. Roebuck has served in the state House of Representatives since 1985. He has been a board member since 1993 and served as vice chairman from 2003 to 2006. His legislative committee service and appointments include first vice chairman of the Democratic Ward Executive Committee, a member of the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency and member of the Legislative Office for Research Liaison. He is also the Democratic chair of the state Education Committee. For 14 years, he taught in the History/Politics department at Drexel University.
Active in the community, Rep. Roebuck is on the board of managers for the Alumni Association of Central High School, a member of the board of overseers for University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, a member of the board of trustees of the Garden Court Community Organization and member of the board of directors for the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP.
His honors and awards include a citation from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and the Dr. William Ross Jr. Scholarship Fund Service award.
Rep. Roebuck earned a B.A. from Virginia Union University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He also completed the University of Virginia—Darden School State Legislative Leaders Foundation's Advanced Management program and the John F. Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University.
Executive Director, Job Opportunity Investment Network
Jennie Sparandara is the executive director of Job Opportunity Investment Network, or JOIN, an organization that works to increase the number of individuals in greater Philadelphia who are earning wages capable of sustaining their families. Her responsibilities include leading strategy, fundraising and grantmaking efforts, as well as overseeing staff and consultants. Previously, she was the director of Human Capital Investments in the Mayor's Office for the City of Philadelphia.
Ms. Sparandara is a member of the selection advisory committee of the GreenLight Fund, which benefits low-income children and families with various needs. She is also a mentor with Mighty Writers and a member of the Roots to Re-entry advisory board.
Ms. Sparandara earned a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University and an M.P.P. from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Georgetown University.
Stella M. Tsai, Esq.
Partner, Archer & Greiner, PC
Stella Tsai, Esq., is a partner at Archer & Greiner, P.C., where her practice emphasis includes commercial litigation, government affairs and civil rights. At the firm, she is a member of the Diversity Committee and chair of the Commercial Litigation Subcommittee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. Previously, she focused on business litigation at Christie, Pabarue, Mortensen and Young.
Ms. Tsai is a member and past president of the Asian Pacific Bar Association of Pennsylvania, member and past president of the board of managers of Penn Law School's Law Alumni Society, member of the City of Philadelphia Zoning Code Commission and member of the board of directors of CHOICE, or Concern for Health Options-Information, Care and Education. Ms. Tsai's accolades include the Alumni Award of Merit from the University of Pennsylvania Law School Law Alumni Society, being named a Woman of Distinction by the Philadelphia Business Journal and listed in the Inaugural Class of Best Under Forty by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
Ms. Tsai earned a B.A. from The Pennsylvania State University and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Jeremiah J. White, Jr.
Chief Executive Officer, White and Associates
As chief executive officer of White and Associates, Jeremiah White, Jr. leads the development of consulting strategies, such as business development and fundraising, designed to help midsized business and nonprofit organizations overcome market challenges and pursue growth. Most recently, he was president and CEO of Osiris Group, Inc., a marketing and business strategy firm. Mr. White is co-founder and past president of Intercultural Family Services, Inc., a nonprofit health and service organization for Philadelphia's in-need and ethnically diverse citizens.
Currently, Mr. White is the board vice president of the Glaucoma Service Foundation at Wills Eye Institute and Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, board member of the Entrepreneur Works Fund and member of the Wistar Institute Leadership Council.
Mr. White earned a B.A. in Education and an M.A. in Planning and Administration in Health Services from Antioch College.