Less than one in 10 people actually achieve their set New Year’s Resolutions. So maybe instead of deciding to drop pounds or save money in 2016, Philadelphians can resolve to better the city — and maybe make good on those promises.

We here at Billy Penn asked many of the city’s young leaders what Philadelphia should accomplish in 2016. So we put the question out to alumni of our Who’s Next program, our handpicked list of up-and-coming young leaders.

The question was simple: What’s your New Year’s resolution for the City of Philadelphia?

Here’s what they said:

melissa alam

Melissa Alam

Title: CEO/Founder of The Hive and Founder/ Editor-In-Chief of Femme & Fortune

Who’s Next List: Startup leaders

Resolution: More opportunities or collaborations with the 20-somethings of Philly coming together to make positive changes. Whether that be organized groups doing community service projects around individual neighborhoods or millennials coming together for a creative campaign, I think there’s a lot of potential and good that can be done if we all band together more!

Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 8.11.11 PM

Erica Atwood

Title: CEO of First Degree Consulting

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: I resolve to spend more one-on-one time with younger Philadelphians with the goal of supporting their dreams, laughing at life and imparting wisdom to each other.


Alex Balloon

Title: Director, Tacony Community Development Corporation

Who’s Next List: The Givers

Resolution: More Philadelphians will check out their neighborhood businesses.


Kevin Cirilli

Title: Reporter, Bloomberg Politics

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: As a reporter covering the presidential campaign, my resolution for the city is to once again show the nation we’re the greatest city on earth while hosting the Democratic convention. If last year was any indication with the Holy Father’s visit — I know our business, religious and political leaders can unite with Philly‘s unique passion, heart and grit to deliver a convention that makes our country proud, no matter our political affiliation.

kayla conklin

Kayla Conklin

Title: 9th grade English teacher at Esperanza Academy Charter High School

Who’s Next List: Education

Resolution: For “New Philadelphia” to value the city outside their own insular neighborhoods.


Joe Corrigan

Title: Principal, Edge Hill Strategies

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: Get more pro-Philadelphia Democrats elected in the suburbs.

james gilbert

James Gilbert

Title: Staff Representative, CWA Local 1036

Who’s Next List: Labor

Resolution: I would like the youth of the City to see a bright and attainable future that includes quality public education and affordable college that lead to successful and secure career paths. I would like our seniors and soon-to-be-retirees feel confident in their economic futures and trust that important public and private services will be there for them. I would like the city’s current workforce be the driving force behind the push of a progressive agenda that leads to increased responsible economic development. 2015 can be the year that as coworkers, neighbors, friends and families we come together to ensure that our communities our safe, clean and thriving places we all want to be. God Bless Philadelphia and all those that call her home.


Jon Geeting

Title: Engagement editor at Plan Philly

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: Make every student ID an unlimited SEPTA pass. A Campus Philly study from last year found that students who become really familiar with Philly during their college years are 19 percentage points more likely to stick around after graduation than students who are more tethered to campus. So let’s nudge students to get off campus and get to know our city better by turning every university ID into a SEPTA unlimited pass. They do this over in Pittsburgh and everybody loves it: students, professors, college marketing departments, and the local transit agency.

The more we can get the universities (and later, large employers like Comcast) on board with bulk SEPTA fare agreements, the more we’ll be able to afford the improvements we all want to see. SEPTA’s Youth Advisory Committee has been working on this issue, and they’re petitioning SEPTA’s board to include a bulk fare policy when they amend the fare tariff this Spring. Sign the Change.org petition here.

leslie grace

Leslie Grace

Title: Art teacher at George Nebinger School in South Philadelphia

Who’s Next List: Education

Resolution: To advocate for art education for school district of Philadelphia (and beyond!) children as well as to continue to raise funds for my classroom which has a $0 dollar budget and to educate other local art teachers on ways of fundraising and bringing art resources to their room through my group Philadelphia Art Teacher Alliance.


Georgia Guthrie

Title: Executive Director of The Hacktory and Apprentice User Experience Designer, P’unk Ave

Who’s Next List: STEM

Resolution: To finally be recognized on a national level for the diverse, friendly, highly skilled tech community we have here. Besides having multiple hacker/makerspaces, Philly has two that are headed by women, the biggest tech group on meetup is Girl Develop It, and TechGirlz, one of the only national organizations specifically providing tech skills for teen girls is based here. There’s something unique to Philly that made all of these things possible, and it’s about time everyone else got in the know. And that we don’t go around destroying robots for fun!

kevin harden

Kevin Harden, Jr.

Title: Attorney with Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC.

Who’s Next List: Law

Resolution: In 2016, Philadelphia should get serious about bail reform! The collateral consequences of incarceration rob our neighborhoods of opportunities and resources. Advances in technology that make reform possible have been available for years and I hope our Mayor-Elect, the District Attorney, the Chief of the Defender Association, and the Judges of the First Judicial District are able to make Philly the best place to get arrested in the country!

asdrey irizarry

Asdrey Irizarry

Title: Director of Education at Taller Puertorriqueño

Who’s Next List: Community Leaders

Resolution: Make the city of Philadelphia a place where everyone is equal.

marion leary

Marion Leary

Title: Founder, Sink or Swim Philadelphia

Who’s Next List: The Givers

Resolution: My new year’s resolution is to continue to help those who are uninsured or underinsured pay for the medical care that they need. My new year’s resolution is to continue to promote science, technology, engineering & math (STEM) research locally, especially to students and especially to help increase women/girls in STEM. My new year’s resolution is to promote micro-philanthropy in Philly to help support the plethora of community-based organizations doing good – not everyone can afford to make large donations but most can make small donations. Large groups of people making small donations can make a big difference!


Bryan Leib

Title: Business Development Representative for the Philadelphia Soul/ member of Millennial Recruitment Advisory Board

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: To continue our work of engaging and recruiting Millennials to work for or volunteer for the City of Philadelphia Government on behalf of the Millennial Engagement Advisory Board.

nina ball

Nina Lyrispect Ball

Title: Poet, activist, actress and executive producer

Who’s Next List: Arts

Resolution: My New Years resolution for the city is to become Poet Laureate and to establish and implement a culture of creative writing expression and performance for all walks of life.


Nicodemus Madehdou

Title: CEO of Jumpbutton Studio

Who’s Next List: STEM

Resolution: There is much to be done and I have no doubt 2016 will be a year of change for the many setbacks we’ve had occurred throughout 2015 on a national scale. I personally can’t fix everything but I intend to continue and focus my strengths in getting more teens and young adults of the coming generation involved with technology so that they can help shape and change the world we live in.

In short, my resolution is for my company to be a known upcoming icon for the future generations. I want to show that age, time and experience is not an obstacle. If you want to start your own clinic for dogs, help homeless people with food daily, develop the next big change in technology and entertainment be it an application, game, hardware, whatever it is; just get out there and start now. Even if you’re just 10 years old and unsure about the future. Anyone who is able to live a life without failures truly hasn’t had the chance to experience a life of excitement because failures lead to knowledge, and in the world we live in, knowledge is power.

katie monroe

Katie Monroe

Title: Bike Share Outreach Manager at Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia

Who’s Next List: Community Leaders

Resolution: In 2016 I hope (and expect!) to see MORE bike share stations in underserved neighborhoods, so more Philadelphians can access the benefits of Indego!

sonia petruse

Sonia Petruse

Title:  Co-founder of PaperClips215, artist, exhibition staff at Freeman’s Auctions

Who’s Next List: Arts

Resolution: Hopefully our new mayor will listen to the citizens of Philly. I would love to see more attention and aid for our animal community (animal rescue, shelters, educating kids and residents on proper pet/ wildlife care, etc.) We need more kindness towards our critters! ^oo^

Credit: Benjamin Mason

Zachary Reese

Title: Member, Bear and Walrus

Who’s Next List: Music

Resolution: Get a solid music venue somewhere on East Passyunk. Half of the city’s best restaurants on one strip, but not a single place to catch a show. Let’s make it happen!

gwen synder

Gwen Snyder

Title: Executive director of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice

Who’s Next List: Labor

Resolution: WIN ON P.I.L.O.T.S. — make mega nonprofits pay their fair share!

ben stango

Ben Stango

Title: Advocacy Chair of Young Involved Philadelphia

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: In 2016, I hope Philly remembers that we cannot succeed unless every single neighborhood in this city succeeds. We must all struggle together to make Philly the city we know it can be.


Megan Sweeney

Title: Communications Director, PA GOP

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: I hope Philadelphia voters will hold the Democratic machine accountable for its decades of failure by voting Republican next November.


Isaiah Thomas

Title: Director of Community Affairs for the City Controller’s Office and Co-Founder of theThomas & Woods Foundation

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: My New Year’s resolution for the city is to improve the quality of programs, services and resources we offer our youth and young adults.


Phillip Trometter

Title: Lobbyist at Penn Strategies

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: For the City’s New Years resolution, I suggest working closer with municipal and county governments outside of Philadelphia to combat the war on heroin. Rural areas in the “Pennsylvania Wilds;” Lycoming County, Bradford, etc. are seeing a huge influx of Heroin dealers infiltrating communities. The City of Philadelphia, FBI, judiciary, and County task forces on heroin need to combine efforts and stop the epidemic through education, law enforcement and tough sentencing for dealers.


Julie Wertheimer

Title: Deputy Director of Public Safety for the City of Philadelphia/ Vice President of the Spruce Foundation

Who’s Next List: The Givers

Resolution: My New Year’s resolution is a lower jail population that still preserves public safety – making sure low risk individuals don’t stay incarcerated only because they are poor. I think we’ll see some real progress on this issue because of unprecedented cooperation between the branches of government.


Omar Woodard

Title: Adjunct Professor, Fox School of Business, Temple University

Who’s Next List: Politics

Resolution: Get serious about reducing poverty and ending voter apathy in North Philadelphia.

Anna Orso

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.