Kenney administration to reboot Millennial Advisory Board

Deputy mayor for public engagement Nina Ahmad tells Billy Penn of her goals for the new group: “We’re not just wanting friends to be on this… This is not about a clique.”

City Hall in 2007.

City Hall in 2007.

Photo: Jason Murphy on Flickr / Creative Commons

The Kenney administration is overhauling a millennial board that had been introduced by the Nutter administration to increase engagement with young people and attract them to city jobs.

Its broad goal of demystifying city government won’t change too much, but the makeup of the board likely will. Nina Ahmad, deputy mayor of public engagement, said she wants the group to be diverse and representative of millennials populating the many neighborhoods of Philadelphia, from race to profession and beyond.  

“I have all these young people I’ve been intersecting with who never heard about this (board),” she said. “It was clearly not something people knew much about outside Center City, maybe. I know excellent work being done by young men and women in neighborhoods…and they’re not reflected in that.

“We want millennials,” she added, “to be the face of the city.”

The new board will be called the Millennial Engagement Advisory Committee. Ahmad said while specific plans haven’t been made, the group would work to find ways to recruit and retain young people in Philadelphia and to foster equality. It would also promote the priorities of Kenney’s administration, such as Universal Pre-K.

Ahmad said two members of the original board, known as the Millennial Recruitment Advisory Board, had been assisting her with plans for the modified board. They are Jasmine Sadat, a Kenyatta Johnson staffer, and Yuan Huang, assistant policy director for the Mayor’s Office. She said she planned to reach out to other people from the original board about the progress they had made and about possible plans for the future.     

Ahmad continued to stress the need for diversity while talking about possible plans for recruiting people for the board.  

“We’re not just wanting friends to be on this,” Ahmad said. “This is not about a clique.”

Richard Negrin, Nutter’s managing director, started the original board last summer. His office had discovered 36 percent of city employees would be eligible for retirement or deferred retirement in the next five years. He wanted to fill many of those positions with young people. The hope was the Millennial Recruitment Advisory Board would be a “Young Friends” type of organization that communicated with young Philadelphians and companies with large millennial populations about demystifying City Hall and prospects for working for the city.

The board met a handful of times last year. The members, which also included Penn J.D./MBA candidate and Young Involved Philadelphia board member Ben Stango, former Tony Williams staffer Bryan E.K. Leib and Philadelphia chief open data officer Tim Wisniewski, came up with ideas such as a “modern” job fair to explain city positions and improved communications with community groups for recruitment, but, in the words of Stango, didn’t come up with a definitive plan to present to the Kenney administration.

As of Tuesday, some members of the Millennial Recruitment Advisory Board had not been made aware of any changes. The group had not met since Kenney took over. One former board member described the previous board as having only a few staunch Kenney supporters and was concerned they were being weeded out despite having ideas for the city.

“We were close,” the board member, who declined to be identified, told Billy Penn, “to rolling out a couple things that would have brought the city and millennial organizations together.”


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