PHILADELPHIA – Managing Director Brian Abernathy today appointed Kira Strong as the new Executive Director of the City’s Rebuild initiative. Strong has served in that role in an interim capacity since November, and before that, as Rebuild’s Deputy Director for Design and Construction, leading over $126 million of new investment in 61 parks, recreation centers, and libraries in the last year.
Rebuild, a signature initiative of Mayor Kenney’s Administration made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax, is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvements to neighborhood parks, recreation centers, and libraries. Two-thirds of Rebuild’s 72 initial facilities are in high needs neighborhoods, and all are in need of critical facilities upgrades due to years of lack of investment and deferred maintenance.
“Rebuild is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in our communities, and the places where our kids learn, play, and grow,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Kira has proven herself as an outstanding leader able to drive these projects forward with a sense of urgency and deep commitment to equity, inclusivity, and engagement with the communities Rebuild serves.”
Strong oversaw revitalization efforts in West Philadelphia as Vice President of Community and Economic Development for the People’s Emergency Center before joining Rebuild in 2016. Prior to that, she worked for the School District of Philadelphia and has 15 years of professional experience in urban planning and community development.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve my city in this new capacity,” said Strong. “Every community in Philadelphia deserves high-quality parks, rec centers, and libraries. I look forward to building on the great work our team is doing to deliver excellent facilities in a way that contributes to inclusive economic growth and strengthens neighborhoods.”
Strong marked her first day as Rebuild Executive Director by celebrating the release of the 2019 Rebuild by the Numbers annual report. The report shares updates on the program’s capital projects, diverse contract participation, workforce development, and fundraising. Since the first bonds were issued for Rebuild in November 2018, Rebuild has activated work at 61 parks, recreation centers, or libraries. Other highlights include:
- Community engagement underway for 9 major transformation projects, representing $70 million in investment.
- 16 diverse Philadelphians recruited to train for apprenticeships in skilled trades unions.
- 42% of committed contract dollars slated to go to minority-owned businesses*.
- 56 diverse local firms enrolled in Rebuild’s businesses support programs.
- 45% of total hours worked to date by women and people of color.
- $4.8 million raised to supplement beverage tax funding and a historic $100 million commitment from the William Penn Foundation.
“Rebuild came to Moss this spring and hit the ground running to make some really important improvements,” said Cecil Parsley, a long-time coach and mentor at Moss Playground in Wissinoming, one of the initial 72 Rebuild facilities. “Kira and the team listen to what we need, and are working hard to deliver the new playground and basketball court, new sidewalks, new trees, and building improvements. These kids deserve to come to a place that looks great and is well maintained. It’s been a long time coming, and Rebuild is really delivering for this community.”
* Contract participation calculated on Rebuild-initiated contracts.
Rebuilding Community Infrastructure (Rebuild) is an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in neighborhood parks, recreation centers and libraries. Proposed in Mayor Jim Kenney’s first budget as a part of his vision for a more equitable Philadelphia, Rebuild seeks to improve pivotal community spaces, empower and engage communities, and promote economic opportunity through diversity and inclusion. Rebuild is a public private partnership made possible by the Philadelphia Beverage Tax.