Barra Awards

Nominators

2018-2019: Barra Awards nominators represent a broad cross-section of fields and communities served within each of our areas of interest (Arts & Culture, Education, Health and Human Services). Nominators provide perspectives and insights from their years of work in and with the community.

Bios reflect nominators’ experience at the time of their participation in the Barra Awards process.

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Esther Morales

Esther is Managing Director of Puentes de Salud. Esther joined Puentes de Salud in 2011 and has worked with families in South Philadelphia and helped expand education programming for Puentes Hacia el Futuro. As a Master’s student at University of Pennsylvania, Esther studied health disparities in Native American communities and the Indian Health Services of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She established collaborations between professors in Penn’s School of Nursing and the School of Arts and Sciences to further research Native American healthcare.

Christine Simiriglia

Christine serves as President and CEO of Pathways to Housing PA. Pathways houses and supports approximately 400 chronically homeless people with multiple disabilities using a scattered site Housing First/Harm Reduction model. In 2014, she launched the Philadelphia Furniture Bank providing furnishings to people moving out of homelessness. Chris has worked with people experiencing homelessness and behavioral health challenges for almost 30 years.

Michelle Currica

At the age of six, Michelle emigrated from Georgetown, Guyana to Memphis, Tennessee. Since then she has called a few special places home Atlanta, Tsuno-cho (Japan) and now Philadelphia. Michelle serves the City’s arts and culture sector as the Program Manager for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, a non-profit grantmaker providing general operating funds and program support to over 300 arts and culture organizations. She is an avid student of Aikido and in 2015 was a United States Aikido Federation scholarship recipient. In her free time, Michelle volunteers with local nonprofits pursuing solutions to issues near and dear to her heart.

James Claiborne

James is a self-taught visual artist, curator and arts advocate. After eight years with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance developing its community engagement and advocacy work, James served as editor of Philly360.com, a multicultural tourism campaign for Visit Philadelphia. Currently James serves as the Public Programming Manager for the African American Museum in Philadelphia—where he is charged with building thoughtful, relevant programs for adult audiences. James has led the gallery program of Art Sanctuary. James also serves as a consultant, advisor and board member for several cultural groups, including Art Sanctuary, FringeArts, and the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

Maitreyi Roy

Maitreyi is the Executive Director and landscape architect at Bartram’s Garden, a 45 national historic landmark and home of famed 18th century botanist John Bartram (1699-1777). Maitreyi leads the restoration and transformation of Bartram’s Garden as a vibrant asset for the local and regional community.  Prior to Bartram’s Garden, Maitreyi led public space revitalization efforts through her work at the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the City of Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Jamiliyah Foster

Jamiliyah is Program Director at the St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children. Previously, Jamiliyah worked at Drexel University’s School of Public Health conducting CDC-funded chronic disease prevention research and as a Field Operations Director in the Department of Community Health and Prevention. Jamiliyah has an extensive background in research and program evaluation and has authored and co-authored multiple research publications. Jamiliyah was raised in West Philadelphia and is passionate about creating healthy lives for underserved children.

Dwayne Wharton

Dwayne serves as the Director of External Affairs at The Food Trust where he works on local and national advocacy and leads the Food & Health Equity National Working Group.  Dwayne is an appointed member of the Mayor’s Commission on African-American Males and the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council; serves on the boards of the Kynett Foundation, Greater Philadelphia Philanthropic Network and the Bridging the Gaps Community Health Internship Program; and is Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project and member of the Allies for Reaching Community Health Equity (ARCHE) Health Equity Experts Network.

Gretjen Clausing

Gretjen is a media arts programmer/curator and is a media activist committed to rethinking public media and securing citizen’s access to media, notably public access television. She is the Executive Director of Philadelphia Community Access Media (PhillyCAM), the city’s public access television station and community media center. Previously, she was the Program Director of Scribe Video Center; Program Director of Film at the Prince Music Theater; and worked at the Neighborhood Film/Video Project and Philadelphia Festival of World Cinema. Since 2003, she has co-curated the dance film festival Motion Pictures with Terry Fox of Philadelphia Dance Projects.

Janet L. Mintzer

Janet joined Pearl S. Buck International as Vice President & COO in February, 2001, after eight years of service as the Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County. She was promoted to President & CEO in September, 2001. Janet has developed independent affiliated organizations to serve children in the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines, while continuing operations in Vietnam, and creating new programs in China. Her awards include the: Bucks County YWCA Bucks County Women Who Make A Difference Award, 2015; and Rotary Club of Doylestown Rotarian of the Year, 2015, among others.

Michelle Legaspi Sanchez

Michelle is the Executive Director of the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls. Prior to entering philanthropy, Michelle held a variety of roles in the non-profit sector, focusing on issues such as health care access, early education, child welfare and HIV/AIDS.  Currently, she serves as a member of the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia Board of Directors and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Joanne Craig

Joanne is the Vice President for Programs at the Crozer-Keystone Community Foundation in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Joanne has administered Healthy Start, Nurse-Family Partnership and Cribs for Kids programs among others. Previously, Joanne was the administrative director for Women and Children’s Health Services for Crozer-Keystone Health System.

Jenny Bogoni

Jenny is the Executive Director of Read by 4th, Philadelphia’s citywide grade-level reading campaign powered by a coalition of more than 90 partner organizations that are aligning their strategies and resources toward this shared vision and mission.  Jenny has held a number of other leadership positions in local education nonprofits including: Spark (a mentoring program for 7th and 8th graders), Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) where she led Project U-Turn (a citywide campaign to decrease the dropout rate), the After School Activities Partnerships and City Year Philadelphia. Jenny has also been a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon.

Chris Kirchner

Chris has worked in the field of child welfare for the past thirty-three years. For twenty-five of those years she has been the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance. In her leadership role at the Children’s Alliance, an accredited children’s advocacy center, Chris oversees collaborative investigations of 3,000 child sexual abuse cases annually in Philadelphia. The Children’s Alliance ensures that Philadelphia’s children receive a coordinated and compassionate response when abuse is alleged.

Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg

Dan is a Staff Attorney at the Public Interest Law Center. He focuses his practice there on education, including a suit alleging that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is unconstitutionally underfunding its public schools, and on housing, where he works to reform Philadelphia’s rental housing market. He is a graduate of Central High School, Macalester College and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Markita Morris-Louis

Markita is SVP and General Counsel at Clarifi, a nonprofit housing and financial counseling agency. At Clarifi, Markita wears many hats including overseeing legal and regulatory compliance, the development team, financial capability programs, strategic partnerships and Clarifi Collaborate, the organization’s technical assistance service. Markita has been featured in the media and has spoken at national conferences on financial capability and financial services for low-income consumers. Though raised in low-income housing in North Philadelphia, Markita now calls Mt. Airy home.

Omar Woodard

Omar is Executive Director of GreenLight Fund Philadelphia. Previously, Omar was a principal at Venture Philanthropy Partners where he co-managed a $20 million portfolio including a $10 million investment from the federal Social Innovation Fund. Omar serves on a number of boards of directors including Girard College Foundation and Maternity Care Coalition. He holds both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from George Washington University where he was a Presidential Administrative Fellow. A North Philadelphia native, Omar resides in the Cecil B. Moore neighborhood.

Susan Tachau

Susan is Chief Executive Officer of Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF).  PATF is a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution and Pennsylvania’s designated Alternative Financing Program under the federal Assistive Technology Act.  PATF’s unique programming focuses on helping individuals with disabilities, their families and seniors acquire devices that enhance independence and improve quality of life.  Susan’s work also focuses on creating opportunities for a better economic future for individuals with disabilities.

Dorothy Wilkie

Dorothy has served as Artistic Director of Kulu Mele African Dance & Drum Ensemble for nearly 30 years. She studied dance with Les Ballets Africains, the National Dance Company of Senegal. She performed with Chuck Davis and choreographed for Lantern Theater Company and the University of Pennsylvania. In 2007, she was awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. In 2015, she received a lifetime achievement award from Philadelphia Folklore Project.

Jonathan Burton

Jonathan has served as the Executive Director of PhilaLandmarks since 2013. Through efficient fiscal management, new media strategy implementation, and establishment of strategic partnerships, Jonathan brought the over 80 year old nonprofit that operates four historic house museums back into a growth stage. He is currently enrolled in a Specialized Master’s program at Temple University for Marketing and Strategic Advertising and is a grant reviewer for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.

Vikram H. Dewan

Vik joined the Philadelphia Zoo in 2006. Along with being America’s first zoo, it is one of the region’s foremost conservation organizations. As President and Chief Executive Officer, Vik is responsible for institutional leadership and strategic direction for all programs, services, operations and fundraising. Prior to joining the Zoo, Vik served as President of Wachovia Bank’s Philadelphia and Delaware region. He is a member of the Vanguard Charitable Board of Trustees; the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Panel and has served on the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia’s Children’s First Fund and the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, among others.

Akosua Watts

Akosua worked as a Financial Analyst at Salomon Smith Barney prior to becoming an educator. While at Columbia University’s Teachers College, she was a Helena Rubenstein Foundation Scholar. She then taught at Hugo Newman College Preparatory School and was a Fellow Advisor to the New York City Teaching Fellow Program. She joined the Russell Byers Charter School in 2005 as a classroom teacher and later served as the school’s Instructional Guide and Assistant Principal. In 2010, she became Assistant Principal of Chester Upland School of the Arts. She then served as Principal prior to her promotion to Head of School.

Chris Bartlett

Chris is the Executive Director of the William Way Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center in Philadelphia. For over 25 years, he has been an innovative thinker and leader in LGBT community organizing, having led the SafeGuards Gay Men’s Health Project, the LGBT Community Assessment and the national LGBT Leadership Initiative. He serves on the boards of Centerlink and the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement. He is a member of the LGBT Advisory Committee for Mayor Jim Kenney. Chris is writing a musical about 50 years of Philadelphia’s LGBT history.

Steve Maluk

Steve joined Neighborhood Bike Works as Executive Director in May 2016. A former bicycle racer and professional mechanic, Steve thrives on helping others develop through bicycles and hands-on skills. Previously, Steve spent six years as Shop Manager and Operations Director at Bike Works Seattle, where he developed a bike mechanics job training program for young adults.

Virginia Logan

Virginia is The Frolic Weymouth Executive Director and CEO of the Brandywine Conservancy & Museum of Art. During its 50th anniversary year, she is leading an exciting period of growth for the Conservancy and Brandywine River Museum of Art. Her nonprofit experience includes serving as Vice Chair of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Board, past Board Chair of the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale, and a variety of leadership roles at Lafayette College.

Aarati Kasturirangan

Aarati (“Arthi”) is director of programs at Bread & Roses Community Fund, where she focuses on developing social change leaders, growing grantee capacity and convening gatherings of changemakers. Aarati is a longtime organizer, activist, educator and researcher in movements for gender justice, racial justice, climate justice and peace. She cofounded the Chicago chapter of Incite! Women of Color Against Violence and 350 Philly, which is building a movement for climate justice in Philadelphia. Aarati has also worked as program officer for integration and impact with the American Friends Service Committee. She lives in South Philadelphia.

Julie Gannaway

Julie is the Executive Director of the Wharton Esherick Museum where she leads the organization’s preservation efforts and explores ways to continue the dialogue between Esherick’s creative legacy and contemporary artists and audiences. Julie got her start at the Brandywine River Museum and then directed the program of a cultural accessibility organization and has held roles with several other arts and nonprofit organizations.

Alisa Jones

Alisa is President and Chief Executive Officer of La Comunidad Hispana (LCH), a Federally Qualified Health Center located in Chester County. She previously served as Chief Operating Officer. Prior to joining LCH, Alisa was in a leadership capacity at the Delaware Health Department where she most recently served as Maternal and Child Health Director. Alisa is bilingual, has published on public health topics and has an extensive experience in health services administration specific to community health centers and public health.

Mindy Aldridge

Mindy is President and a Director of The Grace S. and W. Linton Nelson Foundation, an independent foundation with a mission to expand opportunities for children and youth to become responsible, productive and engaged members of their communities. Her prior experience includes time in teaching, financial services, government and nonprofit work.

Oni Richards-Waritay

Oni is Executive Director of the African Family Health Organization (AFAHO) which serves the African and Caribbean immigrant and refugee community. Oni previously worked for the Black Women’s Health Alliance and served as a consultant in the Africa Program of the American Friends Service Committee. Oni was selected as a Visionary Emerging Leader by the Valentine Foundation, received the 2012 Echoes of Africa Community Service Award from the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs and has received a Citation by the City Council of Philadelphia. In 2015, Oni received the Community Leadership Award from ACANA for her efforts in addressing the health needs of the African Diaspora. Oni is originally from Liberia.

Jay Wahl

Jay joined the Kimmel Center in 2009 after having served as the Managing Producer for the inaugural Hidden City Philadelphia. As Producing Artistic Director, he oversees the development and creation of programs and experiences for all Philadelphians across the Kimmel campus. He also serves as the Artistic Director of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts.

Luis Mora

In 1996, Luis founded FINANTA, a $21 million nonprofit, mission-driven lender facilitating access to capital and technical assistance to entrepreneurs, first-time homebuyers and consumers in the Philadelphia region. Prior to founding FINANTA, Luis created and directed the CoreStates Community Development and Financing groups, a $66 million economic, housing, social and cultural investment program of CoreStates Bank, NA, now part of Wells Fargo Bank. Luis is a native of Costa Rica.

Sharif El-Mekki

Sharif is the Principal at Mastery Charter School-Shoemaker Campus, which has been recognized by President Obama for collaborating with the community to successfully turnaround a persistently failing school.  Sharif served as one of U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan’s Principal Ambassadors. He serves on the Mayor’s Commission on African American Males and was a member of US delegations to the International Summit on Teaching and Learning and the Conference on Integrating Refugees and Immigrants into Schools.  Sharif launched The Fellowship, which supports Black male educators in the region.   He serves on several boards, including Outward Bound and Beyond the Bars Music.

Christine Stutman

Christine is Executive Director of Lutheran Settlement House. Christine began her career at Congreso de Latinos Unidos in 1999 where she held several roles, ultimately becoming Vice President of Behavioral Health services. In 2006, Christine became the Deputy Director of Women Against Abuse (WAA), an agency dedicated to serving victims of domestic violence. In 2010 Christine was hired as the Associate Executive Director for Philadelphia’s Adult Behavioral Health services at NHS Human Services. Christine lives in Wyndmoor, PA.

Diane Inverso

Diane was appointed as Executive Director of the Office of Adult Education (OAE) by Mayor Jim Kenney and has rejoined the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board for Philadelphia Works, Inc. With over 27 years of experience working for OAE, she is an adult education expert on matters related to workforce literacy, family literacy, TANF literacy services and professional development.   Throughout her career, Diane coordinated more than 50 conferences for adult education and workforce development professionals. Previously, Diane served as a member of the Adult Basic and Literacy Education Administrator’s Association, the Philadelphia Adult Literacy Coalition, and as past-president of PAACE.

Suzan Neiger Gould

Suzan is Executive Director of Manna on Main Street. At Manna, she particularly loves the connections she makes with clients and truly values her work with volunteers and staff to serve the community.  In fall of 2016, Manna moved to North Penn Commons, an innovative partnership between Manna on Main Street, the Lansdale Y, The PEAK Center and Advanced Living Communities, offering collaborative programs and easy access to services for residents of all ages and income levels.

Hazami Sayed

Hazami began Al-Bustan with the launch of a language and cultural day camp in July 2002, which grew out of a desire to develop a creative and supportive environment where her young boys could learn the Arabic language and be immersed in the richness of Arab arts and culture while navigating their place in American society. Hazami has worked in the fields of architecture and urban development in Philadelphia and New York City. She is also a photographer and has exhibited her work in Philadelphia. Hazami is a recipient of the Leeway Foundation’s 2012 Transformation Award.

Jim Baker

Jim has established a record of accomplishment during 33 years of corporate, consulting and academic experiences. He is the President of Baker & Company, LLC, a General Management Consulting Firm. Jim serves as Chair of the City of Philadelphia’s Drug and Alcohol Commission and as a member of Mayor Jim Kenney’s Opioid Task Force. Jim has received numerous awards including the William H. Gray Clergy Leadership Award and the Umoja Altruism Award. He was selected by President Clinton to attend The White House Leadership Conference on Youth, Drug Use and Violence.

Brian Gralnick

Brian directs the Social Responsibility department of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia where he manages the community planning, grantmaking and advocacy portfolio for vulnerable populations in the region and Israel. His work to transform social services into the 21st Century has been featured in the Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer and Jerusalem Post among other outlets. He was born and raised in Cheltenham where he still resides.

Helen Eaton

Helen is Chief Executive Officer of Settlement Music School, one of the nation’s largest community music schools providing over 10,000 weekly services across six branches.  Prior to joining Settlement, Helen was President of Chicago Children’s Choir, and the Dean of Programs at the Merit School of Music in Chicago.   Helen currently serves on the boards of the National Guild for Community Arts Education, the Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation and the Musical Fund Society.

Donna Frisby-Greenwood

Donna serves as President and CEO of the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia.  She has more than 20 years’ experience founding, revitalizing and reorganizing education, youth development and civic engagement non-profit organizations including Children First, Inc., Rock the Vote and After-School All-Stars.  Prior to joining the Fund she served as Philadelphia Program Director for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and directed the School District of Philadelphia’s Office of College and Career Awareness.  Donna has been recognized nationally and locally for her innovative efforts in youth civic engagement and development.

Mary Kay Meeks-Hank

Mary Kay is the Executive Director of Face to Face in Germantown, where struggling families, individuals and the homeless are welcomed, treated with dignity and respect, and provided with quality care. She came to Face to Face in January 2007 in anticipation of the founder’s retirement.  Having taught sociology as an adjunct professor at LaSalle University for the preceding nine years, Mary Kay was adept at “talking the talk.”  Her years at Face to Face have engaged her on every level as she now has the privilege of “walking the walk” with the guests, staff and volunteers at Face to Face.

Stacey Woodland

Stacey is CEO at YWCA Tri-County Area where she has led the YW’s expansion in the tri-county area by making YW3CA’s first building purchase since 1913. Prior to joining the YW3CA, Stacey served as Senior Membership Development Director for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania. In a volunteer capacity, Stacey formerly served as a Commissioner on the Montgomery County Commission on Women and Girls. She has been a national delegate for Vision 2020 and served as Board Vice-Chair, Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA Association–Columbia North Branch.

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