As the Economy League's Managing Director, Nick develops and directs strategic economic development projects and initiatives focused on many of the Philadelphia area’s most challenging issues. Nick has more than a decade of experience working with government, nonprofit, and private sector partners in a variety of capacities including the incubation and acceleration of civic ventures, facilitating collaboration to address the social determinants of health, developing innovation-based economic development strategies, crafting employer-led workforce development programming, advancing transportation investment, and advising on international trade and goods movement policy. He has made numerous appearances on TV and radio and has spoken on economic development and related topics in front of a variety of leadership audiences.
Prior to joining the Economy League, Nick held positions at the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, and the Italian American Community Services Agency in San Francisco. He holds an AB from the University of Chicago and a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. Nick lives with his wife and children in South Philadelphia.
Prior to his appointment as Executive Director of the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia in February 2018, 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. He currently chairs the Philadelphia Crosstown Coalition, a citywide organization representing 35 civic associations, and helped to found Friends of Neighborhood Education. 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 is an adjunct faculty member at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches courses on Philadelphia political economy.
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.
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.
PAGE Business Engagement Manager
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.
Mike is a Project Manager 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!
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.
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.
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 18 years. Jess currently lives in South Philadelphia with her husband and pug, Monsieur Pep Pep.