Meet the Winners!
Let's hear it for people who will climb onto the top step of the ladder-even while it’s tottering-to hang the star on the tree for the rest of us.
What if you wanted to record a Christmas album but didn’t think you could sing? Sure Jason Kelce remains a beloved Philly icon for his football excellence, badassery on the O line, and iconic appearance at the Super Bowl Parade. This year Jason founded the (Be)Philly Foundation to invest in youth and launched the clothing line Underdog Apparel to fund it. But perhaps his most joyous undertaking was recording a Christmas album with fellow Eagles Lane Johnson and Jordan Mailata. Undaunted by his lack of musicality or experience, Jason just pulled together the right people (Charlie Hall from War on Drugs, anyone?) cut the best Christmas album we’ve heard in years, and put a song in our hearts.
Brenda Tiller: How do you move on after your only son dies? 30 Christmases ago Brenda Tillar’s John was shot and killed on Broad Street. His murder was never solved. Despite a permanently-broken heart, Brenda brings joy, vitality, and grace into every interaction. She gives the best hugs. Brenda remains a beacon of light to her daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren neighbors, and the rest of us. Thank you for modeling resilience and grace of the highest order.
Dave Silver’s innovative entrepreneurship organizing creatives earned him a spot on Forbes 30 under 30 and a multi-million investment from Sean “Diddy” Combs to expand REC Philly to Miami. David breaks ground on RECMiami in 2023. He also produced the B.PHL Innovation Fest and Jason Kelce’s charity launch. His nonprofit arm Amplify Philly continues to well, amplify Philly.
Sharing Food Excess.
mom and community-empowerer, founded Freestore 15104, For Good PGH, and 412 Food Rescue. When her husband had a calamitous stroke in the middle of his Senate campaign. Gisele rose above the fray, rebuked unkindness, and rooted hard for every human or animal who crossed her path. (She even reached out to me on election day to ask how my job interview went.) Gisele also came out to Kensington on the hottest, wettest day of the year to pick up 2000 pounds of trash and give away one ton of food. Long after the cameras were gone Gisele kept working.
Charismatic Christian Crosby, "Voice of the Sixers," can engage an entire arena at once. Sure, he's a sought-after MC, host, and personality. But it's one-on-one that his radiant humanity shines brightest. Christian's ability to make people feel seen and valued is a gift of the highest order, one he shares generously. Lucky us!
Saleemah McNeil’s a superhero doula and reproductive psychotherapist fighting maternal mortality, especially for women of color. As CEO of Oshun Family Center Saleemah crowd-raised money to offer free and discounted community mental health therapy. She works daily to buoy up her community and give people the skills they need to thrive.
Globy award for co-founding CraftNOW and the Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative. David's board service includes the PMA and former chair of the Gas Works but he has a special knack for founding backbone organizations that organize and magnify peer organizations to provide vision and economies of scale.
Golden Sunrise NYA Fancy Division: David’s joie de vivre has extended to persuading me to join him in our first Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day. Look for us marching together with Golden Sunrise (and MMR's Jacky BamBam.) The Club also received an honorarium for the leadership of Jack Cohen, Milke Carlisle, and Captain Mike++ in preserving the Mummers' Fancy legacy.
30 under 30 for rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste and distributing it across the city.
Matthew Cappucci DC meteorologist; A weather and waffle enthusiast: If Neil Degrasse Tyson and Mr. Rogers had a baby. Matthew combines a magnetic charismatic video persona with an MIT/Harvard education to create contagious excitement about the science behind the weather. Like his mother says you can smile in any language.
Angus Andersen, Inuit scholar, Alaska. Angus tends generously to his community and elders. He gifts us with one Innuit word a day- even while caring for his beloved wife who was sidelined by a stroke. Angus has brought his culture to the world at large while remaining deeply himself. Nakurmiik!
Max Olson, an Oklahoma-based storm chaser, captured an iconic video of a Florida house being swept away by a hurricane storm surge with a couple still inside. That video will save lives in future storms by showing people the danger of remaining. But Max brought his humanity to the endeavor by raising money for the people who were inside the house at the time it was carried away. Like all storm chasers, he risks his safety to keep us informed, to drive research, and to enhance our understanding of weather science and its impact on our world.
Rose Cheney: A public health and gun violence scholar and advocate, in retirement Rose has continued to make an impact. She advises Due Quach on an innovative meditation-based interventions to gun violence. Rose has also leveraged her art training to create a series of Dogs for Civic Engagement campaigns, bringing personalized positivity to the election.
When Malcolm Kenyatta placed bronze in the Senate primary, he doubled down to work even harder to bring his vision of a just and flourishing commonwealth to life, crisscrossing PA to campaign for his former opponent. Malcolm is a superhero for democracy who always has time to hug, advocate, or pray for the rest of us. His advocacy for LGBTQ rights brought him to the White House to watch Biden sign the Respect for Marriage Act (seen here clutching a picture of his husband Dr. Matt, a scholar whose work advocating for equitable space had kept him elsewhere.)
Carrie Pizzollo, South Philly, is a beauty with a melodic laugh and a kind word for everyone in her orbit.
Sheila Hess, City Representative, is literally everywhere all the time bringing joy and connectivity across Philadelphia.
Terrill Haigler gained positive notoriety as "Ya Fav Trashman" during the pandemic. He's authored a children's book.s Now Terrill's running for city council, driven by a vision of a just and trash-free Philadelphia where every individual citizen can make a difference, (photo credit Mike Logsdon)
Michael Nutter is letting us learn from his Mayoral experience to help us elect the best mayor for the job. The Philadelphia Citizen has planned a series of “job interviews“ for the multitude of mayoral candidates, empowering us to measure their experience against the skills that are needed to lead the city effectively.
Larry Platt, Editor of the Philadelphia Citizen for convening meaningful panels, conversations, and dialogues on topics of the utmost importance to Philadelphians. Also for never letting a question or make a speech or run on too long.
Lorina Marshall-Blake for her church school teaching and leadership as President of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation coupled with the ability to be everywhere looking like a million dollars.
Code for Philly, for organizing technologists to donate their services for free to make Philadelphia city and nonprofits more modern, streamlined, durable, and effective.
For X, two years sober, and Everyone Else in Recovery: Recovery is difficult, inspiring, and possible. Sobriety means doing the hardest thing every day and then doing it again tomorrow while balancing work, family, everyday challenges, and the tedium of daily life. It is harder than the rest of us can ever guess. You inspire us! We believe.
This list is deeply personal but also universal. Everyone on the list reaches out beyond themselves to impact our beautiful shared world. Reading back over the honorees reflects back to me my own values.
What is important to me? Resilience. Overcoming adversity. I care about kindness. Innovation. Excellence. I care about perseverance. About Grace. I care about grit. I love sports. I believe in the ability of the right politician to represent our values effectively. I hold them accountable. I believe that we can disagree but still be decent. I admire people who have everything but then still choose to use their awesome powers for good. I admire people that aren’t afraid to make a mistake. I admire people who step up to the top step of the ladder even while it’s tottering to hang the star on the highest tree. I admire people who are disciplined and push themselves to live the life they see for themselves. I appreciate people who wear their greatness with humility. I appreciate people who give back to the community and who pay it forward. I appreciate people who do the hard thing. I appreciate people who don’t whine or blame others. I appreciate people who admit mistakes.
Every last person on this list has made 2022 better for me, even as they made it better for the world around them. These honoraria are small but significant It is important for their positivity and can-do-it-ness to be recognized and acknowledged and celebrated. I am so grateful for them and for the values that they represent. This has been a year of transition for me. I have been extremely lucky to have each of these people lifting me up. Once we start looking for the good in the world, there is so very much good to see. My wish for you in 2023 is that you have endless good in your life and the ability to see and celebrate it.