• Economy League Board


NEW: The GPLEX Support Fund supports emerging leaders and small organizations for whom the program's registration fees may be prohibitive. Learn more, apply, or contribute to the fund at www.economyleague.org/gplexfund.




The depth and breadth of structural racism and inequity embedded in America’s social, economic, and political systems has perhaps never been more widely apparent. The disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color and the continued mistreatment of African Americans at the hands of the police have given rise to an extraordinary moment in the history of the Greater Philadelphia region, the country, and the world—a moment in which centuries of racial and economic injustice are calling out for leadership. In response to this call, the Economy League is mobilizing the cross-sector community of 1,000+ business and civic leaders who have participated in the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (GPLEX) to identify collaborative solutions for instilling racial equity and inclusive agility in post-pandemic Philadelphia. In October and November 2020, a select group of GPLEXers will come together to learn how systemic racism manifests itself in the region’s housing & community development, workforce, transit & mobility, and small & diverse business ecosystems and forge collaborative paths to dismantling inequity in Philadelphia.  


GPLEX 2020 will be a “civic solutions clinic” culminating in a Solutions Showcase that will highlight actionable initiatives in each of four Challenge Tracks


The GPLEX Pivot 


The Economy League was planning to take 150 cross-sector leaders to Detroit in October 2020, to learn about that city's remarkable renaissance and significant challenges, and take back lessons to Philadelphia.  Of course, in March 2020, as GPLEX planning was beginning, we went into COVID-19 lockdown and had to cancel the Detroit plan.  The lockdown ground the economy to a virtual halt, with weight falling disproportionately on the shoulders of Black and Brown Philadelphians.  Two months into lockdown, the viral video of yet another Black man killed by police set off a powerful and durable resurgence of the Black Lives Matter Movement, further highlighting the racial inequities and inequalities in our region and country and the need for concrete, actionable solutions to our region’s deep-seated racial equity issues. 

At this extraordinary moment in the history of the region, the country, and the world, a moment in which centuries of racial and economic injustice are calling out for leadership, there is no more opportune time to convene our GPLEX community around deep racial equity work.





Participants will work through a structured curriculum with support from issue-area experts to design cross-sector civic solutions within the following tracks: 


Housing & Community Development Equity 

How to recapture some of the value lost by Black and Brown Philadelphians due to decades of policy choices? 


Workforce Equity 

How can we facilitate equitable access to workforce opportunities for Black and Brown Philadelphians? 


Transit Equity  

How to ensure equitable mobility solutions for Black and Brown Philadelphians so that they can participate fully in the labor market? 


Small & Diverse Business Equity 

Black and Brown-owned businesses in Philadelphia and elsewhere were in precarious shape before the pandemic and have been disproportionately impacted by it.  How can we create a more robust ecosystem to support Black and Brown-owned businesses and start to address the yawning racial wealth gap that is in large part a function of low rates of Black and Brown business formation and growth?






Application Period & Selection Process  
July 2020 -August 21 The GPLEX 2020 application period will be open from July 2020 - August 14, 2020. The online application is available at economyleague.org/apply. Our Recruitment & Selection committee will reach out to its networks to encourage applications and assist with selection of a diverse cohort. Applicants will be notified of their selection by August 25.  Applicants will be asked to rank order their preferences for participation on a team of 20-30 participants in one of the Challenge Tracks. 


Formation of Challenge Teams  

August 24-September 15:  Accepted participants will be assigned to a team.  Each team will have trained workshop facilitators who will help keep participants on task over the four-week period of the program. 


Briefing Materials Distributed/Teams Begin to Convene 

On September 15, participants will receive a syllabus for the program and briefing materials that will allow them to begin to immerse themselves in their Challenge Track.  Team facilitators will reach out to team members to convene ice-breaking virtual happy hours.  


THE GPLEX 2020 Program 




Week of October 12Understanding Racial Equity in Civic Systems Tools for Driving Change 


  • 4 hours of plenary sessions  

  • 2 hours reviewing materials 

Participants engage with foundational materials on racial equity and systems change and attend two Zoom plenary sessions focused on racial equity and systems change featuring local and national experts. 


Week of October 19Getting to Know the Civic Ecosystem Specific to Your Challenge Track 


  • 2 hours of seminars  

  • 2 hours reviewing materials 

Participants engage with materials on the existing landscape and needs related to your Challenge Track and participate in a track-specific Zoom seminar with regional and national experts focused on gaps and opportunities, power mapping, and interdependencies with other tracks. 




Week of October 26Reviewing the Existing Solutions Landscape  


  • 2 hours of seminars  

  • 2 hours reviewing materials 

Participants engage with materials on existing cross-sector collaboration, bright spots & failures relevant to their Challenge Track and participate in an interactive Track-specific seminar focused on probing what works and what doesn’t with experienced practitioners from Greater Philadelphia and beyond. 


Week of November 2: Developing a Solutions Set 


  • 2-4 hours working with Team 

Trained facilitators guide teams through a structured process to map the team’s assets and influence and start the ideation process toward solutions.   



Week of November 9: Selecting and Refining Your Solution


  • 2-4 hours working with Team

Trained facilitators guide each team through a structured process to develop an actionable proposal and prepare to present at the Solutions Showcase.

November 13: The Solutions Showcase


  • 2 hours for showcase event

Teams will gather at a virtual interactive event to pitch their solutions to their peers. Participants will select one solution as “best in show.” 

Post-GPLEX Solution Support 

Support from the Economy League’s Impact Labs (post-GPLEX) 

The GPLEX 2020 “Best in Show” Solution will receive strategic and implementation support through the Economy League’s Impact Labs.  

Ongoing promotion by the Economy League and GPLEX partners (post-GPLEX) 



PLEASE NOTE:  The Challenge will be conducted in compliance with CDC regulations and social distancing orders which will be routinely assessed as public health considerations may shift over the course of the Challenge. 



An initiative of the Economy League, the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (GPLEX) is dedicated to building our region’s civic muscle, developing leaders of business, civic, and government organizations into visionaries dedicated to making Greater Philadelphia a world-class region. Over the past 15 years, the Leadership Exchange has developed into one of the premier leadership development programs in the region, annually attracting applications from established and emerging leaders across sectors. Through in-region programming and out-of-region learning visits, GPLEX exposes leaders to new insights and ideas, forges new connections across sectors and industries, and deepens participants’ understanding of Greater Philadelphia’s potential. GPLEX has traveled to Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco, Toronto, Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle. In 2020 we had planned to take 150 leaders to Detroit, but the pandemic forced a pivot.


GPLEX exposes leaders to new insights and ideas, forges new connections across sectors and industries, and deepens participants’ understanding of Greater Philadelphia’s potential. Since its inception in 2005, participants have consistently given the experience top marks for exposure to new information and ideas, building connections, and strengthening a community of leaders who are shaping the region’s future. 

GPLEX alumni are a diverse group of established and rising leaders, truly some of the region’s best and brightest.  Of the 247 members of the 2019 GPLEX cohort, for example, more than half are women, one-third leaders of color, one-third from the private for-profit sector, half from the non-profit world, and the remainder hailed from government.  They work in a wide variety of industries including tech, media, law, finance, architecture, arts, healthcare, and education; about 40% are from organizations with revenues under $10 million.  


There is considerable latent potential within the GPLEX alumni network, and according to our exit surveys they are eager to be activated. The Economy League consistently fields inquiries from alumni interested in finding opportunities to activate the knowledge and relationships they develop through the Leadership Exchange. While there have been a few examples of civic innovation that have sprouted organically from GPLEX (notably Made in PHL and the Metro Caucus), increasing the level of activity that emerges from the Leadership Exchange will require more structured opportunities and incentives for participants to develop and test their ideas. 



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Sheila Ireland

Deputy Secretary of Workforce Development, Department of Labor and Industry at Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

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Anne Nevins

President, PIDC

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Rafael Carrasco

Vice President, Waste Management

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Malik Brown

Executive Director, Graduate! Philadelphia



The Economy League is dedicated to building inclusive GPLEX programming that brings a diversity of perspectives to Philadelphia's civic conversations. This year, we are proud to introduce the GPLEX Support Fund, which aims to offset the financial burden of GPLEX for participants for whom this is a limiting factor. We realize that a $500 participant fee is not feasible for every civic leader or organization, and that we have a community of alumni, board members, participants, sponsors, and supporters who are eager to contribute to a more equitable and diverse GPLEX experience by offsetting these financial needs.


Please consider donating to the GPLEX Support Fund, so that we can include a broader swath of Philadelphia's leaders in GPLEX programming and accommodate their much-needed perspectives.


Access to these spaces and connections is more vital than ever and, with your help, we can offer it to more of Philadelphia's leaders.




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SEI Investments
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Pennoni Associates Inc.
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Community College of Philadelphia
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University of Pennsylvania