Philadelphia Skyline
Joan Brady

2017 Who’s Next resolutions: What young Philly leaders want for the city this year

From criminal justice reform to Vision Zero, how Philly can improve.

Over the last three years, we’ve recognized some 350 young Philadelphians for their contributions to the city in their respective fields. And we think they’ve got some pretty great New Year’s resolutions that go beyond hitting the gym more or kicking a bad habit.

Instead, Billy Pennfor the second year in a row — asked our Who’s Next honorees what their resolutions are for the city. Their answers ranged from getting serious about criminal justice reform to improving public education to just avoiding seeing yet another public official indicted on corruption charges. Here are 23 New Years resolutions from some of Philly’s top under-40 leaders:

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1. Melissa Alam

Title: Founder, Femme & Fortune/ Fearless Conference

Who’s Next List: Startup leaders, 2015

Resolution: My goal for 2017 is to create more jobs, especially for women here in Philadelphia! I’m hoping to take my business to the next level and hire a small team starting in the spring.

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2. Andrew Bull

Title: Law Clerk at Haines & Associates

Who’s Next List: Politics, 2016

Resolution: My New Year’s resolution is to focus on making the local public schools in Philadelphia a better and safer place for children to obtain an education. As a community, Philadelphia residents should seek to create an environment where families want their kids to attend the local community school. Instead of having to ride a bus for 30 minutes just to get a better education, students should be able to access the best possible opportunities within their own community. This starts with community involvement. Volunteers from all walks of life (regardless of their connection to the school) should come out and help in any way they can. Whether it’s showing up for a community clean-up day or volunteering to tutor younger children in the afternoon, any contribution not only helps create a better environment, it also strengthens the relationship between the school and local residents. As a city we must focus on making our education system better, and it starts with our schools.

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3. Miriam Enriquez

Title: Director of Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs

Who’s Next List: Law, 2016

Resolution: Continue to work to reaffirm Philadelphia’s commitment to being an inclusive and welcoming city to all. All our friends, neighbors, colleagues, and families, whether they are an immigrant or not, should feel safe and welcome when they need services or interact with the city in any other ways.

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4. Kylie Flett

Title: Director of PR and Strategy at PUNCH Media

Who’s Next List: Communications

Resolution: As a PR/marketing professional and ambassador for many small businesses, my resolution for the city is to increase support and resources for start-ups and small business enterprises. Simultaneously, my hope is that we can create a culture where we both value and encourage the growth of Philadelphia-born businesses across a variety of sectors in 2017.

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5. Stephen R. Flemming

Title: Fifth Grade English/ Language Arts Teacher

Who’s Next List: Education, 2015

Resolution: I resolve to bring increased awareness to the beautification and cleanliness of our public school buildings. Students, staff, parents, and our schools’ communities deserve clean, safe, and welcoming school buildings.

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Joseph Gidjunis JPG Photography

6. Michael Galvan

Title: Policy Director, Mayor’s Office of Education

Who’s Next List: Education, 2016

Resolution: I want this city to remain the place of love, acceptance, support, and inclusion that I have come to call home. After moving here from out of state two years ago, I am still in awe daily by the wonderful community members in every neighborhood in Philadelphia.

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7. Jon Geeting

Title: Director of Engagement, Philadelphia 3.0

Who’s Next List: Politics, 2014

Resolution: I hope that in 2017, we’ll see City officials begin to take the epidemic of pedestrian injuries and fatalities seriously. In 2014, 1,548 people were injured by drivers in Philadelphia — about 500 more than were shot. Almost 400 of those injured pedestrians were children under 15 years old. We rightly pay a lot of attention to gun violence, but the impact of automobiles is every bit as grim. I hope that the Kenney administration and members of City Council will remain firmly committed to Vision Zero — Mayor Kenney’s initiative to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2020 — even when individual street design changes prove politically unpopular (as they inevitably will) or when hard conversations about culture change in the Police Department are required (fewer police vehicles parked in bike lanes, and more illegal parking enforcement.) It is time for the City to stop acting as if this routine and depressingly predictable form of violence on our neighborhood streets is just the cost of doing business and make the hard choices that will stop these tragedies.

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8. Noah Goodman

Title: Associate, Ballard Spahr

Who’s Next List: Law, 2016

Resolution: The City should invest in innovative programs to help children develop personally and academically through sport and exercise. Students Run Philly Style and Philadelphia Youth Basketball are wonderful success stories. The City and its civic leaders should continue to use its resources to use sport as a tool for growth.

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9. Kevin Harden, Jr.

Title: Trial attorney at Eckert Seamans

Who’s Next List: Law, 2015

Resolution: In 2017, Philadelphia should make serious traditional and non-traditional investments in its young people. Its status as a millennial hub, our public school’s crisis, the passage of the sweetened beverage tax, and numerous other factors suggest the City is in a great position to support the ideas, businesses, and needs of the city’s richly diverse younger generation. From loans for start-up companies to programs like the Maryland Mortgage Program that provides young people with student loan credits when they buy a home, Philly needs to take the lead on putting its money where its youth are.

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Jenna Eason/Billy Penn

10. Samar Jha

Title: Director of Government and Public Affairs, Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors

Who’s Next List: Law, 2016

Resolution: As an avid biker, I would want Philadelphia’s Vision Zero plan to be implemented and thrive. In my work, I’d resolve to create more plans and policies for more affordable housing in Philadelphia.

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Jenna Eason/Billy Penn

11. Eli Klein

Title: Judicial Law Clerk, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Who’s Next List: Law, 2016

Resolution: Build on the City’s momentum from this past year to foster cross-disciplinary coalitions designed to stem the brain drain, address the development of community schools, and curb violence in the City.

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12. Erin Lamb

Title: Associate, Rawle & Henderson LLP

Who’s Next List: Law, 2015

Resolution: My resolution is to keep pushing individual Philadelphians, especially those with special skills, like attorneys, to use those skills to help out other individual citizens — whether it be through becoming trained in performing expungements, guiding citizens through the mortgage foreclosure reconciliation program, or drafting wills for senior citizens. We get caught up in the big picture sometimes, and the big picture is important, but the little pixels that make up that picture start right here at home.

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13. Jen Leary

Title: Founder, Red Paw Emergency Relief Team

Who’s Next List: Givers

Resolution: That no family in Philly loses their pets due to a fire or disaster in their home.

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14. Marion Leary

Title: Director of Innovation Research for the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania

Who’s Next List: Givers

Resolution: I will not just stand up for equality and justice for all, but I will act when I see discrimination and hate taking place. I will not stand by and be just a social media activist — though I will be one too! I will protest, I will march, I will write, I will call, I will donate, and I will act! I will continue to fight for the rights of everyone in this country  —  and around the world  —  who are marginalized and discriminated against. I will continue to embrace the diversity and struggles that make us all individually human, and I will help others do the same.

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15. Bryan Leib

Title: Leasing Specialist at Campus Apartments

Who’s Next List: Politics, 2015

Resolution: My resolution for 2017 is to support anything and anyone that gets Millennials engaged and involved in the political process. We need to increase voter turnout numbers if we are ever going to be in a position to elect our own fellow Millennials to local, state and federal office.  

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16. Nicodemus Madehdou

Title: CEO at Jumpbutton Studio

Who’s Next List: STEM, 2015

Resolution: While the election might have really thrown a lot of people off their game and hopes for the future, I intend to continue pushing forward with my team to develop solutions and provide services that can lead to creating an impact. Our focus on Education will be through our animated series Curiosity180 — Lets Talk About It on YouTube as well as a plan to take that to a completely new level. We hope to add a new tool to the life of patients and healthcare professionals to innovate how we remember our memories in life through an application called ME.mory. We hope to change the way individuals currently find parking and are able to park starting in Philadelphia through an application called ParkQ. We hope to change the way young adults, kids and teens are able to play sports around their neighborhood and lastly, we hope to educate and make known the seriousness of child abuse and neglect through our big game that is in development known as Keeper And The Soldier.

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Jose A. Mazariegos

17. Jasmine Rivera

Title: Targeting and Data Manager at PA State Voices

Who’s Next List: Community leaders, 2016

Resolution: There’s so much I’d love to see happen, but right now my main focus is immigration. I would love to see Philadelphia update the ICE holds policy (that makes Philly a Sanctuary/4th Amendment city) to bar the physical presence of ICE agents from municipal buildings and cease database sharing with ICE by ending the Preliminary Arraignment Reporting System (PARS) program. The latter will be voted on by Mayor Kenney, District Attorney Williams and Judge Neifield this August, hopeful they’ll all vote no to renew the contract. I’d also love to see Columbus Day turned into National Indigenous People’s Day.

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18. Jasmine E. Sessoms

Title: Founder, She Can Win

Who’s Next List: Community leaders, 2016

Resolution: To continue to identify, support and provide resources for all women who are interested in civic leadership. I am resolved to assist women WOMANUP!

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19. Steven Silver

Title: Attorney at McBreen & Kopko

Who’s Next List: Law, 2015

Resolution: Let’s try to go one year without an elected official being indicted on criminal charges.

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20. Ben Stango

Title: JD/MBA candidate at University of Pennsylvania

Who’s Next List: Politics, 2014

Resolution: My resolution would be the need for the city to create closer bonds between our communities and police, while also reforming our criminal justice system to protect our most vulnerable. In the face of the threats posed by the Trump Administration, we must do everything we can to make Philly safe for all of our residents.

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21. Megan Storm

Title: Restaurant, Wine and Business Consultant

Who’s Next List: Food, 2015

Resolution: Philly is known as one of the best “food cities” in America. But as the critics are searching for the next great place to eat, I want to know what will continue to define us as a great food city in the years to come. This year, my resolution for Philly is to keep finding ways that food can help build sustainable, local economies and healthy communities. Multiple organizations (such as the Philadelphia Office of Sustainability, NKCDC, The Food Trust, SBN) and businesses (like The Common Market, Kensington Quarters, and KCFC) have made real progress towards narrowing the economic gap and ensuring food security. There is still a great deal that can be accomplished in all of our neighborhoods regardless of status. Reconnecting with our food and each other while growing from foodies to “food citizens” — as author Anthony Flaccavento puts it — will make Philadelphia an even greater food city in 2017.

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22. Jennifer Totora

Title: Manager of STEM Education and On-Water Programs at Independence Seaport Museum

Who’s Next List: STEM, 2015

Resolution: Creating more opportunities for on-water programming for underserved communities. By bringing attention to our waterways through direct contact and fun experiences, we show the local citizens of Philadelphia that the Delaware River and its tributaries are healthy, usable, important, and worth protecting.

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23. Brian Walker

Title: Musician and frontman, A Day Without Love

Who’s Next List: Music, 2015

Resolution: To greatly reduce the drug and alcohol epidemic affecting our communities.

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