Champions and Advocates for Quality Teaching and Learning
Leadership and Members
Benjamin Persofsky is a senior vice president in the private banking practice at Brown Brothers Harriman, where he provides strategic advice and helps deliver debt and equity solutions for private businesses in the Mid-Atlantic region. Prior to joining BBH, he was with M&T Bank, where he served in a variety of leadership roles across various divisions including corporate banking, retail banking and organizational development/human resources. Benjamin also has prior experience in health care, having been responsible for the JeffSTAT critical care retrieval program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Benjamin graduated from Lafayette College with an A.B. in economics & business and a minor in psychology. He attended the University of Oxford as a visiting student concentrating on research in organizational behavior and developmental economics. Benjamin serves on the Executive Committee of Federation Early Learning Services and has served as a grant reviewer for the United Way. He resides in Philadelphia with his wife and young son.
Benjamin, who attended Philadelphia public schools including Northeast High School, is deeply focused on the question: How can we leverage the needs of the city’s next generation of parents to help break the cycle of poverty for the overwhelming number of under-served children in Philadelphia? In 2015, he worked with MaST Charter School and other parents of young children in Philadelphia to develop a plan for a new charter school focused on science, technology, robotics, engineering, arts and math. Although the charter was not approved, the experience further focused Benjamin on the importance of finding education solutions that will enable all of the city’s students to reach their potential.
Zakiyyah Boone is chief executive officer at Wonderspring. Ms. Boone is responsible for the programmatic direction of the organization’s five high-quality early childhood education programs, its kindergarten program and its five out-ofschool time programs. She is also leading the effort to open Wonderspring’s newest early childhood education program at New Market West, slated to open in 2020. Zakiyyah joined Wonderspring because of its high-quality programs and its focus on bringing those programs to underserved communities.
Zakiyyah has 22 years of experience as an early childhood and youth development professional. Most recently, she served as vice president of early childhood at the Greater Philadelphia YMCA, where she managed a budget of $20 million, identified growth and partnership opportunities and ensured the appropriateness of facilities to deliver high-quality programs. A national leader in educational quality improvement, Zakiyyah led a nationwide initiative aimed at enhancing the ability of after-school programs to improve student outcomes. Locally, she has cut the ribbon on 10 child care centers and launched multiple evidence-based youth development programs across the Greater Philadelphia region.
Zakiyyah holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Millersville University and an MBA from Kaplan University. As a mother of two, she personally understands the impact that high-quality education—from birth through high school—can have on children and families. Her daughter attends Academy at Palumbo, a district magnet high school, and her son graduated from KIPP Philadelphia Charter Schools in 2018. Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Zakiyyah herself attended Overbrook Educational Center and then Central High School (proudly 252). She and her family live in the city’s Penrose section.
Zakiyyah is no stranger to Elevate 215, having served for the past couple of years on the Investment Committee.
As Vanguard’s first global Chief Marketing Officer, Colin Kelton is responsible for marketing strategies, channels, marketing creative services, and marketing technology in support of Vanguard’s brand, investment products and services and client facing divisions.
Colin has been at Vanguard for nearly 29 years. Prior to becoming Chief Marketing Officer, he led Vanguard’s Australia business located in Melbourne, Australia.
He graduated from Penn State with a degree in Economics, received an MBA from Drexel University, and had the opportunity to attend Harvard’s Advanced Management Program, sponsored by Vanguard.
Prior to moving to Australia he served on the boards of the Upper Main Line YMCA and more recently People’s Light and Theatre company.
Bill Marx is a Corporate Tax partner in Grant Thornton’s Philadelphia office. Marx has worked in both public accounting and industry, including serving as director of taxes for a multinational publicly traded company. He provides federal, state, and multinational tax accounting, compliance, and planning for both publicly traded and privately held dynamic companies. Bill has extensive experience with the preparation and review of income tax provisions, both ASC 740 (formerly known as FAS 109) and IAS 12 (International Financial Reporting Standards), and serves as the firm’s Technical Issue Resolution expert on ASC 740 matters for the East region. He has represented his clients’ tax interests in numerous transactions and restructurings, and in disputes with taxing authorities. He has also been very active over his career in teaching about taxes in both internal and external continuing professional education classes.
William McNabb III is the former chairman of the board and CEO of Vanguard. He joined Vanguard in 1986, served as CEO from 2008 through 2017. William also served as a director of Vanguard Marketing Corporation, and he served as a managing director of Vanguard from 1995 to 2008.
William is chairman of the board of the Zoological Society of Philadelphia, and is on the boards of CECP: The CEO Force for Good and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
He earned an A.B. at Dartmouth College and holds an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Before going into finance, he taught Latin to 7th and 8th graders at The Haverford School.
Evie McNiff is the founder and board president emirata of the Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia. Since she founded CSFP in 2001, it has awarded more than 30,000 K-8th scholarships to under-served children.
Evie is also a founder and board member of Elevate215, formerly the Philadelphia School Partnership, which has spent the last decade improving student outcomes across all school sectors—public, public charter and private.
Evie serves on the board of the Philadelphia Foundation and is a former board member of Philadelphia School Advocacy Partners, Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative, and the national board of Children’s Scholarship Fund. She was a former advisor on the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal, and previously worked at the New York Council on the Environment and the Nature Conservancy.
Evie holds a B.A. from Yale University. She is married, has three children and lives outside of Philadelphia.
Jennifer Rice is devoted to many charitable organizations with a focus on the arts, education, women’s rights and animal welfare. She is the Co-Founder of the Forman Arts Initiative and serves on the boards of The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, Big Picture Philadelphia (Vaux and El Centro high schools) and ACCT Philly (animal care and control team of Philadelphia). She is a member of the Gender Wealth Institute Advisory Committee for Women’s Way, the Philadelphia Equity Alliance education committee and is former board chair and current honorary trustee for The Philadelphia School, an independent, progressive school in center city Philadelphia.
Kevin Shafer currently serves as a Founding Partner at The City Fund, a new non-profit supporting local leaders in building innovative public school systems across the country.
Prior to joining The City Fund, Kevin spent five years as the Chief Innovation Officer for the Camden City School District, leading the district’s school strategy, enrollment, long-term financial planning and external affairs work. In that role, Kevin helped lead efforts to dramatically transform opportunities for students and families in Camden, overseeing the district’s efforts to open and expand high quality schools throughout the city.
Prior to Camden, Kevin worked in Bridgeport CT, during which time he taught 7th and 8th grade social studies at P.L. Dunbar School, worked to train new teachers for Teach For America, and served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Superintendent Paul Vallas in Bridgeport Public Schools.
Philadelphia native Herman “Art” Taylor is an executive with experience in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors and a longstanding appreciation of the importance of education. As head of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, he leads an organization whose mission is to ensure nonprofit accountability and transparency for donors looking to achieve philanthropic impact.
Art is a respected and sought-after voice in the nonprofit sector on charity accountability, transparency, governance, impact and strategy. He has testified before both U.S. House and Senate committees offering guidance on ways to improve the ethical behavior and trustworthiness of charities. Since spring 2018 he has held the position of Lecturer, teaching students at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies on ethics in the nonprofit sector. He is a regular guest lecturer at the Georgetown McDonough School and the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University. For his efforts he has been named to the Non-Profit Times Power and Influence Top 50 list four times and is currently a member of its Hall of Fame.
Art, a graduate Franklin & Marshall College, has served as a trustee there since 1993 and earned an honorary doctorate from the college in 2002. He now vice chair, chair of the Trusteeship and Governance Committee and is a member of the Executive Committee. He acquired a J.D. from Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law in 1989 (where Mike O’Neill was a classmate). He serves on the boards of Convergence; American Non-Profits; the International Committee on Fundraising Organizations; the Fundraising Standard and National Assembly Business Services; and the American Institute of Graphic Arts.
Early in his career, Mr. Taylor was employed by Keystone Foods Corporation, UGI Corporation and Deloitte & Touche LLP, where he obtained status as a CPA. He is a graduate of South Philadelphia High School and a member of its Cultural Hall of Fame.
Sean Vereen, Ed.D., formerly the president of Steppingstone Scholars, is a noted thought leader in pedagogy and educational inequity, and executed a greater vision for educational impact. Today, he oversees outcomes and experiences for every student as Co-President of Heights Philadelphia–Philadelphia Futures and Steppingstone Scholars merged and are now Heights Philadelphia, offering real access to academic and career opportunities through expansive programming and partnerships.
Sean is the Vice Chair of the Mayor’s Education Nominating Panel that nominates members for the School District of Philadelphia’s Board of Education, board member of the Elevate 215 which is focused on increasing high performing school options for students in Philadelphia, and member of Johns Hopkins Access Advisory Board, a national advisory board working with John Hopkins Undergraduate Admissions Office to support their efforts to realize the goals of Michael Bloomberg’s $1.8 billion gift to Hopkins to increase the population of low-income and first generation students. He is a co-instructor of an open online course created in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania focused on first generation college applicants called How to Apply to College on the Coursera platform with 18,000 enrolled learners from around the world. He is a lecturer in the Higher Education Division at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.
Dr. Vereen received his Ed.D. in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education in 2005. His research focused on how leaders of minority focused resource centers navigate a complex higher ed institution. He is a guest lecturer on issues of social and educational mobility and inequality, narrowing the achievement/service gaps for educationally underserved students, and how to diversify educational institutions.