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Emerging as a Point Breeze leader By LINDSEY NOLEN SOUTH PHILLY REVIEW


aving strong community leaders is an essential part of building a successful community, and after 12 years living in Point Breeze, Jennifer Devor decided she wanted to take a personal stake in ensuring her neighborhood’s success. Devor recently has been nominated and awarded the 2017 Forum of Executive Women Award for Emerging Women Leaders. The purpose of this award, which is in its 18th year, is to seek out inspiring women from the Philadelphia region who demonstrate “leadership and accomplishment in their careers as well as high potential for future growth.” Devor has become extremely involved in the community endeavors of Point Breeze and the city as a whole over the years. Through her full-time job as director of partnerships at Campus Philly, Devor works to retain college talent in the Greater Philadelphia Region leading to a greater local economy, talent pipeline and culture overall. To assist in this communityfocused endeavor, she must work with different entities throughout the region, from government relations to arts and culture organizations, to help connect students and employers. “Being involved in the community is a very clear passion of mine and one that I’m very vocal about,” Devor, who lives on the 1500 block of South Carlisle Street, said. “I’m a block captain on my street, a committee person and I have formed great working relationships and friendships with the diverse populations that make up Point Breeze.” In solidifying these relationships, Devor had crossed paths with three women in particular who pursued nominating her for the Forum of Executive Women Award. One of these women is Michelle Freeman, president and founder of Witty Gritty Marketing & Events, who is a colleague of Devor’s and who has collaborated with her on several projects while working within the social impact and startup communities in Philadelphia. The other two women who nominated Devor for the award include Ivy Olesh, executive director at Playworks, and Jacqueline Zavitz, principal of Heidrick & Struggles. Devor knew Olesh from their mutual involvement in the city-wide movement of community members supporting local elementary schools known as the Friends of Neighborhood Education. “When [Olesh] and [Zavitz] decided to collaborate on a nomination, [Olesh] introduced [Zavitz] and I, and after we met they submitted my name to the Forum,” Devor, 32, said. “[Olesh] just recently

Photo special to South Philly Review

Jennifer Devour, of Point Breeze, works to retain college talent in the Greater Philadelphia Region leading to a greater local economy, talent pipeline and culture overall. stepped down as president of her group Friends so Chester Arthur and I am the current president of Neighbors Invested in Childs Elementary serving G.W. Childs Elementary School K-8 in Point Breeze.” Devor believes Freeman, Olesh and Zavitz chose to nominate her because she is a “doer,”

and that the three women also possess that quality. Furthermore, she thinks they similarly noticed this quality in her, which is why they are able to get along and work together so well. “Throughout my career in Philadelphia, I’ve done a good job and have tried to build bridges between residents of old and the new Philadelphia,”

Devor, a native of Parsippany, N.J., said. “This is critical for the city right now, and I believe [Freeman, Olesh and Zavitz] recognized the timeliness of these qualities.” After siphoning through the list of nominations and deliberating on who should be selected to receive this honor, The Forum of Executive Women chose to award it to both Devor, and Kelly Devine, a senior marketing specialist at Comcast Cable Communications. Since The Forum of Executive Women is an organization created to leverage and empower women leadership in business throughout the City of Philadelphia, upon winning this award, Devor and Devine will receive a customized professional development experience, facilitated under the leadership and guidance of Forum members. “We are delighted to honor Jennifer and Kelly, who demonstrate the qualities that The Forum seeks in future women leaders,” Nancy O’Mara Ezold, chair of The Forum Award Committee, said. “Our Leadership Development Program will enable Jennifer and Kelly to tap into the expertise of Forum members who will share lessons from their professional journeys and offer guidance and support to these outstanding awardees.” From here, Devor and Devine will be matched with Lesley Mallow Wendell, president of Rosewood Consulting Group, who will take them through a series of leadership assessments. Although this service is usually very costly, the awardees will receive it free of charge, and after will create a leadership plan based on their results aimed at continuing to evolve their leadership strengths and opportunities to develop these skills. “People say that it’s just an honor to be nominated for this award, but that’s so true,” Devor said. “It’s amazing to be an award winner because of the wealth of resources which the Forum offers. Having been identified by an organization so committed to the success of Philadelphia has made me feel excited about my future.” In the months to come, Devor also plans to fully utilize her award-granted access to the Forum of Executive Women’s membership directory. She also intends on continuing her work at Campus Philly while figuring out the best ways that she can contribute to the continued growth of Philadelphia. “Through this professional development I’ll be able to find a direct path,” Devor said. “I’m happy to represent Point Breeze and South Philadelphia in this realm of the network of professional women.”

For more information of the Forum Award for Emerging Women Leaders, or to nominate a local woman leader, visit: emerging-women-leaders/the-forum-award/.

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