PHILADELPHIA – The Re-Imagine Philadelphia Steering Committee begins its work today, Wednesday, Jan. 20.
The City formed the committee to help it develop inclusive and equitable processes to increase public input into City budget and planning decisions. In particular the committee will help the City find ways to engage residents and communities that have historically been omitted from these processes.
“For too long the way we budget and the way we plan have not been open to every Philadelphian,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “To have equity in our city the process for deciding how we spend taxpayer funds and how we plan our future has to be inclusive. This is an important step in that direction.”
The committee is charged with helping City staff to develop processes to actively engage residents in planning and budgeting. The committee will focus specifically on methods of reaching residents who have been ignored in the past.
Committee members are drawn from three sectors: residents who applied to participate, community members on City advisory boards, and City employees from relevant departments, boards and commissions. A list of the committee’s 53 members is at the end of this release.
“More than 800 residents applied to join the committee,” said Philadelphia City Planning Commission Executive Director Eleanor Sharpe. “The tremendous interest enabled us to invite community members who reflect the diversity of Philadelphia.”
The committee will start its work by exploring ways to obtain resident input on how to spend $1 million in capital funds. Capital funding makes improvements to infrastructure such as playgrounds, libraries, recreation centers, and streets.
“Spending decisions reflect a city’s values and responsibilities,” said Budget Director Marisa Waxman. “We want people to not only tell us what they care about, but also be empowered to make spending decisions.”
The committee will spend its first three months exploring how best to gain resident input on those spending decisions. The City will spend the $1 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2021.
The committee will then turn its attention to City planning.
Over 15 months the steering committee will work with City Planning Commission staff to create strategies to engage previously ignored constituencies. The goal is to develop processes that equitably direct planning resources and outreach to where they are most needed.
“Engagement in the past did not do enough to ensure each community’s ability to take part,” said Sharpe. “This time we will meet people where they are. The committee’s work is critical to making that happen.”
Philadelphia 2035, the City’s comprehensive plan, outlines future plans for the city. It includes a citywide vision and detailed plans for each of 18 planning districts.
The Planning Commission updates the plan every 10 years. The last update began with a year of research and conversation to help set the stage for planning. This committee will help make the research and conversation process for the coming update more equitable and inclusive.
The Planning Commission will begin to implement the committee’s strategies in mid-2022.
Re-Imagine Philadelphia Steering Committee Members
Community Members Selected from Applicants
Alexander George Casper
Angela K. Ferguson
William M. Scott
Bishop Ethan Thornton
Community Members Currently on or Referred by Advisory Boards
John Chin – Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs
Julian Domanico – Millennial Advisory Committee
Jose Ferran – Peer Culture Transformation Advisory Board
Pastor Clarence Hayes, Jr. – Mayor’s Commission on Faith-based and Interfaith Affairs
Jude Husein – Philadelphia Youth Commission
Yocasta Lora – Commission on Aging
Shania Morris – Food Policy Advisory Council
Anna Perng – Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities
Raquel Evita Saraswati – Commission on LGBT Affairs
Reverend Doctor Michelle Simmons – Criminal Justice Reform
Musa Trawally – Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs
Wayne Williams – Mayor’s Commission on African American Males
City Government Representatives
Ajeenah Amir – Office of Public Engagement
Erica Atwood – Office of Criminal Justice and Public Safety
Cheryl Bettigole – Department of Public Health
Sharon Clinton – Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity
Liana Dragoman – Chief Administrative Office
Randy Duque – Commission on Human Relations
Amy Eusebio – Office of Immigrant Affairs
Adrienne Ewing – Office for People with Disabilities
Cynthia Figueroa – Office of Children and Families
Eva Gladstein – Office of Health and Human Services
Otis Hackney – Mayor’s Office of Education
Mark Harrell – Register of Wills Office
Jovida Hill – Office of Engagement for Women
Anh Hua – Mayor’s Office of Grants
Christine Knapp – Office of Sustainability
Celena Morrison – Office of LGBT Affairs
Elhadji Ndiaye – Department of Planning and Development
Joanna Otero-Cruz, Managing Director’s Office – Community Services
Maari Porter – Policy and Strategic Initiatives
Ashley Richards – Philadelphia Parks and Recreation
Nefertiri Sickout – Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Kira Strong – Rebuild
Dawn Summerville – Department of Commerce
Kelley Yemen – Office of Transportation, Infrastructure and Sustainability