Jeff has been at the helm of the Economy League since February 2018 and has helped the organization position itself as a leader in the inclusive and equitable growth space. Under his leadership, the organization has more than tripled Black participation on its board and has built one of the most racially diverse staffs in the region.
Prior to the Economy League Jeff served as Director of Financial and Policy Analysis for the Philadelphia City Controller Alan Butkovitz, where he advised the Controller and worked on critical issues relating to Philadelphia's fiscal and economic health and supervised the production of numerous dozen data-driven analyses.
In his civic life, Jeff served ten years on the board of Queen Village Neighbors Association, including two terms as president from 2012-16 and two terms as chair of the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition, a citywide organization representing 35 civic associations. He currently serves on the board of the Northern Liberties Neighbors Association and chairs the organization's Education Committee.
In 2019, he was invited to attend the Aspen Institute’s Executive Seminar on Leadership, Values, and the Good Society. He is a member of the National Anchor Institution Task Force, an advisory board member of the Social Innovations Journal, and serves as Vice President of Philadelphia Committee on City Policy. He has taught public policy as an adjunct faculty member at Penn, Temple, and Drexel. He is involved with the Saturday Morning Group, a civic leadership group that supports the Philadelphia Equity Alliance.
After leaving academia in 2001 with a PhD in business history and publication of a book on the real estate industry A Nation of Realtors, Jeff spent a decade in the labor movement. He helped low-wage workers in the service and education sectors build workplace and political power. He ran for City Council in 2011. Born in Brooklyn, a product of public schools in Matawan, NJ, with degrees from MIT, Penn, and the University of Maryland, he has called Philadelphia home since 2001. He currently resides in Northern Liberties with his Boston Terrier puppy, Miles.
Deputy Executive Director
J'nelle E. Lawrence, MBA brings to the team 13 years of Procurement and Supplier Diversity experience from her roles as a Procurement Specialist at The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Global Supplier Diversity Manager at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Supplier Diversity Lead at The Chemours Company.
J’nelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Villanova University and a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Drexel University. J’nelle is very active in the local business community in Philadelphia and the state of Delaware, as an active member of the MSDC, WBEC, the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Women Business Owners, and the Independence Business Alliance. She currently sits on the Board of Directors at the Claymont Community Center. In December 2014, J’nelle was recognized as a recipient of Delaware Today’s “Women in Business Award” and in June 2016, J’nelle was recognized by DiversityPlus Magazine as a national recipient of their “Top 25 Women in Power Impacting Diversity.”
J’nelle currently resides in Claymont, DE with her husband Tyrece and their 3 year old Cavapoo, Zeke. J’nelle loves sports, loves spending time with friends and family, especially sushi nights, and loves entertaining in their home.
Mike is Research Director at the Economy League, specializing in data wrangling and quantitative research methods. He enjoys all things “data” and his research interests include neighborhood change, gentrification, Millennials, urban development, and environmental change. Mike is also completing his doctorate in sociology at Northeastern University.
Prior to joining the Economy League, Mike served as a researcher and data consultant with the Boston Area Research Initiative (a research organization co-housed between Northeastern and Harvard Universities). He oversaw various team efforts to wrangle and organize federal, state, and local administrative records for analysis and public use. He also coordinated and ran data training sessions with local government officials and community organizations in an effort to close the digital divide.
Mike received his B.A. from Elizabethtown College and received his M.A. from Northeastern University. He grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs and is happy to be back in his favorite city!
PolicyHub Research Analyst
Haseeb Bajwa is a PolicyHub Research Analyst and works with the Research Team at the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia to develop Leading Indicators. A large part of his work entails data wrangling and empirical research that feeds into the Leading Indicators published by the company. Haseeb brings more than 6 years of research experience to this role, where he has worked on various academic and policy research projects in developing countries like Pakistan and Uganda. He is passionate about applying rigorous analytical methods to derive evidence-based answers to complex policy issues.
Haseeb graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2022 with a Master's in Political Science with a focus on political economy and networks. He received his BA in Political Science and Economics from Swarthmore College in 2016. Originally from Pakistan, Haseeb has been in the Greater Philadelphia
area for the last ten years.
Lara Aiyegbusi (Pronouns: She/Her) is originally from Montgomery County and has worked in communications since college with increasing responsibility and authority in each of her roles. Lara’s BA degree is in Economics and Business Management from Spelman College. Additionally, Lara is certified in digital marketing from the Wharton School of Business. She joins our team with a background in marketing, digital media, and strategic business communications. Before joining the Economy League she served as the Manager of Marketing and Communications for Welcome America Inc where she played a pivotal role in accelerating Philadelphia's infamous independence day festival to an online accessible digital experience in lieu of 2020’s global COVID-19 pandemic. Lara has organized campaigns at the city level as well as on the global scale as former communications and events specialist for IKEA US.
As the Communications Manager for the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia Lara brings her wealth of knowledge in marketing, technology, and strategy. Lara takes on the responsibility of developing, managing, and implementing communication strategies to increase public awareness of the Economy League’s core programs including the Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange (GPLEX), Impact Labs, Philadelphia Anchors for Growth and Equity (PAGE), and Policy Hub.
Kenyatta James is an entrepreneur and community organizer who brings 8 years of Human Centered Design experience to the Economy League. He began his career studying Human Centered Design as a participant in Project Breaker, an immersive design apprenticeship pioneered by TED Fellow Juliette LaMontagne, where he learned design thinking from experts at IDEO, Frog Design, Google Creative Labs, AOL Ventures and Viacom's MTV Scratch unit. After that experience, Kenyatta brought his design thinking skills to the social impact world as a community organizer revitalizing a city park and coordinating nationwide volunteer programs for the American Friends Service Committee.
His organizing work brought him into diverse political arenas including taking part in United Nations events on behalf of religious communities and lobbying in Harrisburg and Washington, DC. Kenyatta then started JamesGrant Design, a messaging strategy company, where he used his design experience to help organizations build better relationships with their constituents. Under his leadership, JamesGrant Design helped the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia build the world's largest video library of anti-inflammatory recipes and worked with Oral Health America to expand youth participation in school-based dentistry programs.
After the birth of his first child, Kenyatta switched to consulting so he could have more time with his family. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, cooking, watching anime as well as exploring the great outdoors with his son. Kenyatta is excited to be bringing his skillset to the Economy League to increase the opportunities for Black entrepreneurs in the Philadelphia area. Kenyatta’s primary role as the Business Engagement Manager will be the development of PAGE Prep, which will be PAGE’s curated boutique consultancy services for Black & Brown businesses.
PAGE DEI Data Analyst
Melina Harris (she/her) is the PAGE DEI Data Analyst. Working closely with J’nelle and Kenyatta, Melina works to bring greater transparency, clarity, and operational efficiency to the frameworks and processes used to drive equitable and inclusive economic growth for our city’s local businesses. Prior to this role, Melina spent over 5 years in the financial services industry, where she underwrote loans for small to medium-sized businesses across the country. She is passionate about democratizing the financial sector and excited about developing innovative ways to measure and track social impact.
In 2021, Melina graduated from the University of Vermont’s Sustainable Innovation MBA program with a focus on impact investment. She received her BA in Science, Technology, and Society from Vassar College with a minor in Public Policy Economics. Originally from Boston, she never liked football until she moved to Philadelphia in 2017. She currently lives in Germantown and loves listening to, dancing to, and playing live music.
PAGE COMMUNITY MANAGER
Jonathan Sterling is a Northeast Philadelphia native who is now the PAGE Community Manager for the Economy League. He works with the rest of the PAGE team to stimulate supplier diversity within the anchor institutions of Philadelphia, giving small black and brown businesses a route to opportunities and resources. Before starting at the Economic League, he was a seasoned property manager in the State College area.
He graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Communication Arts and Science and aims to make an impact here in his hometown of Philadelphia. He sees the need for positive change within the city and sought after it by joining the Economy League, with its rich history and presence in the city.
He spends his free time sharpening his mixed martial arts skills and lifting weights. When he is not in the gym, you can find him gaming online, watching anime, or hanging out with his dog Bucket. He brings excitement and hopes to create avenues for people of color within his city.
Greater Philadelphia Leadership Exchange Director
Kiersten Mailler joins the Economy League as its new GPLEX Director for the program's 16th year. The program is designed to connect practitioners, professionals, and movers/shakers in order to "build civic muscle" within the region and to showcase the successes of other great US cities that may be adopted in Philadelphia.
Kiersten joins ELGP by way of a steadily advancing urban planning career in which she worked in a variety of planning and planning-adjacent roles. Hailing originally from Western Massachusetts and then Boston, Kiersten has quickly grown roots in Philadelphia. She served Delaware County's Planning Department as a Senior Planner in the Community and Regional section before joining the small but mighty women-owned civic engagement firm Connect the Dots. Through these roles, Kiersten ran a huge variety of projects on multi-disciplinary teams with towns, cities, neighborhoods, corporations, and master planning teams, all in service of incorporating meaningful citizen engagement for long-term impact. Kiersten's unique attention to and passion for human-centered design, equitable civic space, and urbanism, along with her extensive experience planning and executing large-scale events, makes her an exciting pick for GPLEX Director. Her pursuits within ELGP will extend to multiple sectors as she continues to facilitate impactful collaboration in the region.
Impact Labs Program Director
Maritza is the director of the Economy League's Impact Labs program, a social innovation incubator and accelerator focused on identifying and scaling community-driven solutions to complex challenges. In 2022-24, Impact Labs will run Well City Challenge: Health Equity in partnership with Independence Blue Cross and Accelerate Health Equity.
Maritza is passionate about developing community-driven programs, particularly in the health equity space. She brings to the Economy League a breadth of experience in evaluating and implementing community-based interventions and industry clinical trials ranging in health focuses from sexual reproductive health to podiatric medicine.
She began her career in public health as a data analyst for the CDC’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, evaluating the success and lessons learned from the city-wide initiative in Philadelphia. After the completion of that program, Maritza gained diverse experiences conducting clinical trials and interventions as a research coordinator at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Temple University. In these roles, Maritza strove to advocate for her patients and the local communities being served. Ensuring that their voices were heard during all phases of a program’s coordination
Maritza is a graduate of the George Washington University’s Milken School of Public Health and is currently completing her MBA in Strategic Management at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. She is excited to merge her public health expertise, and education in business support the growth of social enterprises and innovations in the city of Philadelphia.
Impact Labs Program Associate
Tia Abdulhadi is the Impact Labs Program Associate, working directly with Maritza on the Well City Challenge: Health Equity Program. Within this department, she is responsible for assisting the program's progress, facilitating community engagements, and building and maintaining partnerships with local stakeholders.
As a Philadelphia native who lived in multiple neighborhoods, Tia comes with first-hand knowledge of the city's realities and potential. After graduating from The Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Community and Environment Development, Tia returned to Philadelphia to begin her career in the non-profit world. Her background includes direct mental and physical health care, agricultural economics, and professional arts, which informs her authentically well-rounded approach to Community Development Work. Prior to this position, she led Neighborhood Revitalization efforts with Habitat for Humanity and hosted various volunteer opportunities. Tia grew up aspiring to protect and empower Philadelphia's black/brown communities and is proud to leverage her education, personal skills, talents, and connections to do just that.
Tia believes that the best leaders invest in their overall wellness. Outside of developing and coordinating community ventures, she is a spiritualist who enjoys hiking, learning vegan recipes, and creating visual art.
Jess Harris joins the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia as its new Office Manager. Not only tackling day-to-day maintenance and support of the staff, programs, and board, Jess also handles accounting and will focus on managing and deepening board engagement. She joins the team with over 20 years of experience in various administrative and operational roles, with a focus in the tech sector. This includes time at Orbis Solutions, where she worked for the last 15 years since the company first opened.
Jess has a knack for multitasking while keeping an eye on the finer details. She approaches her job and work with a people-first approach ensuring the team is supported while making sure things are kept on track and deadlines are met.
Jess graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent with a BA in Communications and Media Studies. Originally hailing from upstate New York, she has called Philadelphia her home for 19 years. Jess currently lives in South Philadelphia with her husband.
Sr. Fellow For The Food Economy/Policy
WELL CITY CHALLENGE FELLOW
SENIOR GPLEX FELLOW