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ICYMI: Ten Prominent Business Leaders Join PA Early Learning Investment Commission

The Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission announced the appointment of 10 new members, along with nine renewing members – all business leaders from across the state. New and returning members took their oath to serve on Pennsylvania’s Early Learning Investment Commission on October 17th at a ceremony in the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg, as part of the Commission’s 2018 Planning & Orientation Meeting.

“I am pleased to welcome the new and returning members of the Early Learning Investment Commission,” said Governor Tom Wolf.

“Along with my administration’s efforts in Pennsylvania over the past four years, we have increased our investments in pre-k by $115 million to serve an additional 11,000 children, and in home visiting by more than $14 million to serve 7,200 more children, and we have invested $16.8 million to move thousands of children from the Child Care Works waiting list. The accomplished business leaders on the commission are well suited to continue this bi-partisan work. Together, we can ensure that every child in the commonwealth has access to high-quality early childhood care and education.”

Chair of the William Penn Foundation, Janet Haas, was appointed honorary co-chair of the commission earlier this year and echoed Governor Wolf’s remarks.

She added, “I am thrilled to join such a high caliber group of business leaders and work to improve early childhood education outcomes in their communities across Pennsylvania. We welcome an impressive incoming slate of ten new Commissioners, and thank those who have renewed their service to continue work for all kids in Pennsylvania.” 

Meet Our New Commissioners

New Appointees

Kendra Aucker is President and Chief Executive Officer of Evangelical Community Hospital. She has been with Evangelical since 1999. Ms. Aucker previously served as Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at Evangelical and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Hospital. She also served as Vice President of the Evangelical Medical Services Organization and helped drive its growth and strategic impact on the Hospital.

David L. Cohen is Senior Executive Vice President of Comcast Corporation and is the Company’s Chief Diversity Officer. David has a broad portfolio of responsibilities, including corporate communications, government and regulatory affairs, public affairs, legal affairs, corporate administration, and community investment. He also serves as senior counselor to the CEO. Before joining Comcast in July of 2002, David served as a partner in and Chairman of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, LLP, one of the 100 largest law firms in the country.

Tom Foley with Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth, Robert Torres, after the swearing-in ceremony for new commissioners.

Thomas P. Foley succeeds Dr. Don Francis as President of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania (AICUP–which represents 92 private colleges and universities in the state). Foley accepted this assignment in July 2018, after serving 8 years as President of Mount Aloysius College, during which time he chaired the AICUP Board of Trustees, led the President’s Council of the Conference on Mercy Higher Education (CMHE) and the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC), was elected to the NCAA Presidents Council and served on three local economic development boards.

New commissioner, Brad Hall, takes part in a strategic planning work session at the recent Orientation and Planning meeting.

Brad Hall is the former president of UGI Energy Services. He retired in March 2017 after a 34-year career with UGI Corporation and its subsidiaries. He was appointed to lead UGI’s corporate development program in 1994 where he started and oversaw the company’s highly successful expansion into Europe and the formation of its unregulated natural gas marketing and midstream business in the U.S. He served as president of the latter for the last 22 years.

New commissioner, Jim Hoehn, planning outreach strategies with fellow commissioners from his region.

Jim Hoehn is the Central PA Regional President of PNC Bank. He has served in this role since 2011. Hoehn previously served as PNC’s regional president in Dayton, Ohio. He has 25 years of banking experience and joined PNC predecessor National City in 1996. Besides leading the Dayton market since 2003, he was chief financial officer for the corporate banking division and head of strategic planning.

New commissioner, Darshan Kulkarni, with Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Robert Torres.

Darshan Kulkarni is Vice President, Regulatory Strategy & Policy, for Synchrogenix. Darshan is focused on providing legal, regulatory, and clinical assistance to pharmaceutical and bio-pharmaceutical products, especially starting at the point of post-IND assistance through commercialization of the product.

New commissioner, Mark Lee, talks with fellow commissioners before the recent Fall meeting at the Governor’s residence.

Mark M. Lee is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor, and a partner in Blank Rome’s white collar defense and investigations practice group. Mark specializes in defending corporations and executives against investigations and prosecutions conducted by the federal government. Mark also helps his clients manage and avoid risk by conducting internal investigations and corporate compliance assessments on their behalf. Clients turn to Mark to provide solutions that advance their business objectives and to navigate crises that present substantial reputational risks.

Chris Marsh shakes hands with Acting Secretary, Robert Torres, after taking an oath of service at the swearing-in ceremony for new commissioners.

Chris Marsh serves as Chief Community and Economic Development Officer at Erie Insurance. In this role, she works with community leaders in establishing and implementing the goals of the Erie Downtown Development Corporation (EDDC). The EDDC’s mission is to spur economic development through real estate investment in downtown Erie. Chris also supported the creation of a related equity fund that has raised more than $25 million dollars to date. Chris and her team are also responsible for governmental, legislative and regulatory developments affecting ERIE and the insurance industry.

Debbie Rittenour is the Senior Vice President, Government Programs, at Capital BlueCross. In this role, she has executive leadership accountabilities for all government programs, including Individual and Employer Group Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplemental, Part D Medicare, individual and federal exchanges and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

New commissioner, Troy Standish, with Acting Secretary Robert Torres.

Troy Standish is the Senior Vice President of Loan Serving Operations. He has oversight of servicing and default prevention for Navient’s owned and serviced student loan customers. This includes responsibility for customer facing activities carried out by over 2,500 employees within Navient’s greater than $300 billion loan servicing portfolio.

Renewing Appointees

Commissioner Jack Brennan talks about Vanguard’s commitment to improving the lives of kids in Pennsylvania.

The nine renewing members of the Commission were:

  • John Brennan, Chairman Emeritus & Senior Advisor, Vanguard
  • Anthony Campisi, President & CEO, Glatfelter Insurance Group
  • Philip Devorris, President & CEO, Blair Companies
  • Hugh Lavery, Senior Vice President, Government & External Affairs, Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health
  • Gerald Maginnis, Retired Office Managing Partner, KPMG
  • Norman Rich, Retired CEO, Weis Markets
  • Nick Scott, Vice President, Scott Enterprises
  • Michael Smeltzer, Director of Operations, BAE Systems
  • Marilou Watson, Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP
Deputy Secretary of OCDEL, Suzann Morris, presents a plan focused on infants and toddlers in Pennsylvania.

Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth, Robert Torres, performed the swearing-in ceremony for new and renewing commissioners. Deputy Secretary of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning, Suzann Morris, outlined PA’s focus on infants and toddlers and Dr. Myra Jones Taylor, Chief Policy Officer with ZERO TO THREE, was the luncheon keynote to discuss data and outcomes related to investing in programs focused on children 0-3.

Dr. Myra Jones Taylor gave the keynote address during lunch at the recent Orientation and Planning meeting.
Peter Danchak accepts an award from co-chair Lloyd Llamm.

Peter Danchak, Regional President with PNC, was recognized by the Commission with an award for “A Decade of Leadership.” Pete has served as Co-chair of the commission since 2008 and his dedication, passion, advocacy and overall commitment to the commission and its work is unparalleled. Co-chair, Lloyd Lamm, thanked him on behalf of the commission for stepping up into that role for the past 10 years and also presented him with letters of appreciation from Senator Bob Casey and Governor Tom Wolf.

Commissioners also participated in work sessions related to the strategic plan adopted last fall, appointed a new executive committee and discussed legislative outreach across the state. We had a celebratory send off for our Executive Director, Carey Harris, who has moved on to pursue a new adventure as CEO for Literacy Pittsburgh. Carey has been integral in re-energizing the work of the Commission and its visibility across the state. The search for a new executive director is well underway.

Commissioners discussing the policy leadership portion of the Commission’s strategic plan during a work session at the Fall meeting.

Full Photo Gallery from the 2018 Orientation & Planning meeting at the Governor’s Residence in Harrisburg (October 2018)