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City of Philadelphia

Commission Members

Sharon Easterling, Commission Co-chair

Sharon Easterling is the Executive Director of the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children (DVAEYC), one of the largest local affiliates of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). DVAEYC is the leading provider of professional development services to early childhood practitioners and programs in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and assists child care programs in meeting Keystone STARS standards. Ms. Easterling was ordained by the American Baptist Churches in 1990 and has been involved in urban ministry initiatives for over 25 years.

Loretta Sweet Jemmott, Commission Co-chair

Loretta Sweet Jemmott, PhD, will serve as the Vice President for Health and Health Equity, Drexel University and Professor in the College of Nursing and Health Professions starting in September 2015. Prior to this appointment, she taught at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. An expert in health promotion research, she is one of the nation's foremost researchers in the field of HIV/AIDS prevention. While several of her curricula have been designated for national use by the Centers for Disease Control, it is her work with community-based organizations that have transformed her evidenced-based research outcomes for use in real world settings.

Catherine Blunt

Catherine Blunt is a former School District of Philadelphia educator. She spent 4 years as a junior high school teacher, 29 years as a high school teacher, and 10 years as a small high school principal. She is a graduate of William Penn High School, Temple University (B.S. in Secondary Education), and Antioch University (M.A. in Urban Education). She received her Certification in Secondary Education from Cheyney University. Ms. Blunt is an avid supporter of public education and believes early childhood programs provide children with essential social and educational experiences to be successful learners and productive citizens.

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell

Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, representing Philadelphia’s Third District, is a five term councilperson born and reared in Philadelphia. She is a seasoned advocate for social change with a thirty year reputation for serving community members and the poor and underprivileged in the City of Philadelphia. Serving as Majority Leader since 2000, Councilwoman Blackwell is a behind the scenes consensus builder and problem solver. During her council terms, she has introduced significant legislation, including the legislation for establishment of this Commission.

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown

Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown is an educator, community activist, political leader, and proud parent currently serving her fourth term as a member of the Philadelphia City Council. An at large member of the Council, she also serves as Majority Whip, Chair of the Council Committee on the Environment, and Vice Chair of the Committee on Education. Councilwoman Reynolds Brown is dedicated to enriching the lives of Philadelphia residents by “Putting People First.” Her focus and commitment to helping others have defined her work throughout her professional life.

Diane Castelbuono

Diane Castelbuono is the Deputy for Early Learning with the School District of Philadelphia, where she is responsible for operating all of the District's preschool programs, as well as the development and implementation of a seamless Pre-K through Grade 3 continuum that ensures every child is reading on grade level by age 8. Prior to her appointment as Deputy for Early Learning, she created and managed the community investment portfolio for United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, served as the Deputy Secretary for K-12 Education for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and spent 15 years working in the Philadelphia public school system in several cabinet-level positions.

Donna Cooper

Donna Cooper is the Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the Greater Philadelphia region’s leading child advocacy organization that influences elected officials by combining practical research and policy recommendations with citizen mobilization. Prior to PCCY, Cooper was a senior fellow at respected national think tank, the Center for American Progress. She also served as the Secretary of Policy and Planning for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the founding Executive Director of Good Schools, a grassroots organizing campaign on public education, and the City of Philadelphia’s Deputy Mayor of Policy and Planning.

Jennifer Duffy

Currently principal at The Lea School in West Philadelphia, Jennifer Duffy has taught pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, served as a teacher leader and manager for English Language Learners for the School District of Philadelphia in the North West, Kensington and South- West sections of the city. She is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and holds masters degrees from St. Joseph’s University and Arcadia University. Duffy was raised in Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa and brings a global perspective to her commitment to education.

Rob Dubow

Rob Dubow is the Director of Finance for the City of Philadelphia, or the City’s Chief Financial Officer. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA), a financial oversight board, Chief Financial Officer for the Commonwealth of Philadelphia, and Budget Director of the City of Philadelphia. Before working for the City, Mr. Dubow served as a Senior Financial Analyst for PICA, a Research Associate at the Pennsylvania Economy League, and a reporter for the Associated Press.

Marita Crawford

Marita Crawford currently holds the position of Political Director for IBEW Local 98 and serves as the representative on this commission on behalf of the Philadelphia Building Trades. Marita is a Philadelphia resident and single parent who has spent many years organizing and supporting legislative efforts on behalf of working class communities, women and families. Marita also represents the IBEW as a Vice President on the Pennsylvania State AFL-CIO. Prior to her role at Local 98, she served as the Director of Constituent Service for a City Council at Large office. Marita now serves as a new member of the Advisory Council of Emerge Pennsylvania, a national organization that is dedicated to promoting, training and educating women seeking elected office.

Michelle Figlar

Michelle Figlar is the Deputy Secretary for the Office of Child Development & Early Learning, a division of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Education. Prior to holding this position, she was the Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), a local affiliate of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), where she worked with early child care education professionals and advocates. She also serves as a member of several early education organizations including the Pennsylvania Early Learning Council and the Pennsylvania Early Childhood Advocates Committee, and an Adjunct Instructor for the University of Pittsburgh.

Anne Gemmell

Anne Gemmell, City of Philadelphia Pre-Kindergarten Director, is a longtime advocate for Philadelphia's children. She has combined policy expertise and her political organizing experience in work on education, state and local budgets, economic equality and even marijuana decriminalization. Since 2013, she worked as the Southeast PA Field Director with Pre-K for PA advocacy campaign. Anne has recently helped raise the level of public awareness about the importance of early education. Previously, Anne was the Political Director for the community-based coalition supported by SEIU's Fight for a Fair Economy, locally known as Fight for Philly. Fight for Philly worked with members of the low-wage work force to change local policy and affect the media dialogue. In 2007, she co-founded Education Voters PA, a statewide K-12 education policy and advocacy organization. Anne is also a former high school Social Studies teacher with the School District of Philadelphia and Mastery Charter. She is a Pennsylvania selection for the James Madison Fellowship (1999) and holds a Master of Arts degree in American History from Villanova University.

Margarita Hernandez

Biography forthcoming

Sherilynn Kimble

Sherilynn Johnson Kimble is the former Executive Director of The Caring Center, formerly known as ISI Caring Center for Children and Parents. She has more than 35 years experience in education, administration and management, and specializes in early childhood education, training, consultation and leadership development. She is an adjunct faculty member at Community College of Philadelphia and Rutger’s University. Ms. Kimble served on the Professional Development Council of the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs. She has designed and facilitated an educational training series for parents and teachers and a Mentoring Project for Early Childhood Directors and Teachers. She has served and continues to serve on local boards dedicated to community service on women’s and children’s issues.

Reuben Jones

Reuben Jones is the Executive Director of Frontline Dads, an organization that facilitates the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and cultural development of African American men and “at-risk” youth. Its programming, including a self empowerment program for young women, a youth violence prevention program, and an entrepreneurship program for ex-offenders/returning citizens, empowers them to assume leadership positions in their families, and communities. Mr. Jones has won numerous awards for his humanitarian efforts, including the Lucien Blackwell "Shining Light" Award and the Knight Foundation's "Black Male Engagement" Award.

Pheng Lim

Pheng Lim is the Principal at the Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS) a grassroots charter school located north of Chinatown founded by Asian American United and Philadelphia Folklore Project. FACTS utilizes traditional arts and cultures found within their own neighboring communities as the catalyst for critical inquiry and community engagement and ranked #1 among K-8 schools in Philadelphia for the 2013-14 year on the Philadelphia School District’s School Progress Report. Pheng has 11 years of teaching experience in the Philadelphia area. She completed her Master of Science Degree in Education at Temple University and is Pennsylvania certified in Early Childhood, Elementary, Special Education, ESOL Program Specialist, Mid-level English and Administrative I. She has presented at numerous regional and national conferences on education. Pheng is a resident of Philadelphia and has two young children.

Rob Wonderling

As President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Rob Wonderling leads a business advocacy organization of member companies that promotes growth and economic development in the 11-county Greater Philadelphia region. Previously from 2002-2009, Rob served in the Pennsylvania State Senate, where he first served as Chairman of the Communications and Technology Committee and then as Chairman of the Transportation Committee. He also has worked for Bentley Systems, served Ridge-Schweiker administration and was President of the PENJERDEL Council. Rob cares deeply about a strong education system and served on the Philadelphia School Reform Commission Search Committee for a new Superintendent of Schools and as the Chair of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Commission on Postsecondary Education.