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RealLIST Connectors 2024: In Philly’s tech and startup community, 20 people you want to know

Shining a spotlight on the most connected and community-oriented people in the region’s innovation ecosystem.

Meet Philadelphia's RealLIST Connectors for 2024 (Danya Henninger/Technical.ly)

Technical.ly’s RealLIST Connectors 2024 in Philadelphia is underwritten by Accenture and Committee of Seventy. The list was independently reported and not reviewed by Accenture and Committee of Seventy before publication.

If you’re seeking connections in Philly’s tech and startup community, we can make it simple: These are the people to know.

This is the fifth edition of Technical.ly’s annual RealLIST Connectors feature, which recognizes the most connected and community-oriented people in the region’s ecosystem. We started in 2020 by listing 100 people. The following year we highlighted another 20. In 2022 we added 22 people to the list; last year we spotlighted 20 more

The process starts with ideas from you, our readers, offered through our nomination form. (That form is open year-round, submit away!) We also ask past honorees for their suggestions, and look back at our reporting over the previous year. 

This year’s list spotlights 20 people who are connected, influential and give back to the Philly tech and startup scene. Our honorees range from STEM educators, to members of the life sciences community, to advocates for workforce development, to programming experts and people who are simply just deeply embedded in the community. 

Scroll down to meet your 2024 RealLIST Connectors in Philadelphia, presented in alphabetical order.


Jason Bannon

Jason Bannon headshot

Jason Bannon

Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia

Bannon is the new senior vice president of marketing and communications for the Chamber of Commerce. He previously spent 10 years at Ben Franklin Technology Partners, where he was VP of marketing and communications, a role that landed him on our original RealLIST Connectors list five years ago.

The past half-decade has seen Bannon’s connections grow to a new level — and those personal relationships are what he appreciates most about the Philly tech landscape. In his new position, he looks forward to continuing collaboration work with the region’s wider business community.


Ben Beaver

Ben Beaver

Ben Beaver

Nerd Street

Beaver is the head of programming and senior manager for youth camps and programming for Nerd Street, a Philly-based esports company. It’s the perfect position for him, because he’s extremely passionate about increasing access to the skills and opportunity gaming can offer. Last fall, the org expanded with a youth league that helps encourage players to pursue professional or amateur care.


Melina Blees

Melina Blees

Melina Blees

BioLabs Philadelphia

Blees is the business operations and strategy director and head of BioLabs Philadelphia, which offers workspace and resources to local life sciences companies. Blees has led multiple events for the global organization since its Philly presence launched in 2018.

For example, the org recently hosted ab Investor Pitch Day, bringing together founders, investors, vendors and other stakeholders in biotech, med tech and health tech. Blees also organized a Tech Transfer Showcase last winter to show off research and companies spinning out of local research institutions.


Malik Brown

Malik Brown

Malik Brown

Graduate! Philadelphia

As president and CEO of Graduate! Philadelphia, Brown is focused on workforce development and adult education. Before this role, his career touched on finance, management consulting and diversity, equity and inclusion. The throughline? Social and economic mobility.

According to his nominator, Brown is someone who feels strongly about “ongoing career development, sponsorship, and life coaching for those who are most disconnected from opportunity” — and acts on it.


Amaya Capellán

Amaya Capellan

Amaya Capellan

PA Office of Information and Technology

Capellán is the chief information officer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, working within the state’s Office of Information and Technology to ensure that Pennsylvania’s technology infrastructure runs smoothly.

Based in the Philadelphia region, the technologist’s previous experience includes roles at corporate giants like Comcast and smaller tech startups. Her approach as CIO is to be a “people-first” leader, supporting both her own employees and the residents of PA.


Hope Foy

Hope Foy

Hope Foy

CIC Philadelphia

Foy is the assistant director of programs and partners at CIC Philadelphia, a lab and workspace for life sciences companies located at the University CIty Science Center. She recently organized a vendor showcase that drew major life sciences vendors from around the country to meet and connect with local startups.

 

 


Tony Green

Tony Green

Tony Green

Ben Franklin Technology Partners

Green is the chief scientific officer of Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania and has over 30 years experience supporting biotech companies in the region. He’s helped create varous investment funds as well as PACT’s Mentor Connect program.

Over the past year, Green has been leading the charge on the Philadelphia region’s involvement in the US Economic Development Administration Tech Hubs program, bringing together stakeholders from Southeastern PA, Delaware and Southern New Jersey to create an $80 million proposal.


Helen Horstmann-Allen

Helen Horstmann-Allen

Helen Horstmann-Allen

Radical Optimism

A longtime tech executive, Horstman-Allen most recently was COO of email provider Fastmail, after selling her startup Pobox to the Australian company in 2017.

These days, Horstmann-Allen is working with ImpactPHL on an impact investing circle called Invest for Better and running Radical Optimism, an org focused on creating change through positive thinking. According to her nominator, Horstmann-Allen “epitomizes the essence of a super-connector” because of her mentorship and ability to foster connections in the Philly community.


Kirsten King

Kirsten King

Kirsten King

Pennovation Works

King brings people together by planning events for both Pennovation and its surrounding Philadelphia community in her role as associate director of engagement and experience.

She also works with local schools through the org’s YES (Youth Entrepreneurship STEM) Initiative, which encourages underrepresented youth to pursue STEM and entrepreneurship. Her nominator described her as the “heartbeat” of Pennovation Works.


Betty Lindley

Betty Lindley

Betty Lindley

West Park Cultural Center

Lindley is the founder and executive director of the West Park Cultural Center and co creator of the program danceLogic, which combines dance and coding classes for young girls in West Philly. She started the program to help get more girls, specifically girls of color, interested in STEM careers.

An artist and former teacher, she’s been involved in her community through the Business Association of West Parkside, the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Board of Directors.


Anthony Martin

Anthony Martin

Anthony Martin

Urban Youth Racing School

Martin is the founder and executive director of UYRS, which teaches students about engineering and technology by framing it around racing cars and drones.Recently, the school started branching out to partnerships with Charter Schools. Martin’s background is in sports marketing, but he shifted his focus to helping young people in Philadelphia enter STEM careers through the racing school and his foundation, the What It Takes Foundation, which connects youth with professional mentors.


Damon McWhite

Damon McWhite

Damon McWhite

1Philadelphia

The program manager for 1Philadelphia, a coalition of stakeholders working towards a more equitable tech ecosystem in Philly, McWhite is involved with tech equity initiatives across Philly’s ecosystem, including this spring’s launch of the new Latinas in Tech chapter.

McWhite is also the program manager for Coded By Kids, a non-profit focused on teaching coding skills to young people.


Tanya Morris

Tanya Morris

Tanya Morris

Mom Your Business

Morris, an experienced entrepreneur who uses her experiences to connect and coach other founders, is currently CEO of Mom Your Business, an organization she launched to provide resources and connections to local entrepreneurs, especially women of color..

Last fall, Morris helped organize the Philly Gets Back in the Black Tech Pitch Competition as part of the Most Diverse Tech Hub Initiative. This February, Mom Your Business opened its coworking space MYB Hub North as a resource center for founders in North Philadelphia.


Stephen Nappi

Stephen Nappi

Stephen Nappi

Temple University

Nappi is the associate VP of tech commercialization and business development at Temple. He’s been a leading force to launch Temple’s Innovation Nest, a new space for innovators and spinout companies at the University. Nappi is constantly connecting founders with resources, his nominator said, which he can now do even more effectively through iNest.

 


Chermaina Roundtree

Chermaina Roundtree

Chermaina Roundtree

Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies

As VP of growth and member success, Roundtree has taken a lead role in revamping PACT’s programming, working on events such as the CapCon Catalyst series and Powered by Phorum series.

She has strengthened partnerships and sponsorships for PACT events such as the Mid-Atlantic Capital Conference. Roundtree’s nominator said she “truly listens” to the needs of PACT members and the whole tech community.

Editor’s note: Roundtree passed suddenly in April. PACT recognizes her legacy of fostering belonging and equity within the Philly tech community. The team at Technical.ly offers our sincere condolences.


Haniyyah Sharpe-Brown

Haniyyah Sharpe-Brown

Haniyyah Sharpe-Brown

Accenture

Sharpe-Brown is the senior manager of operations and strategic programs at Accenture for Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In her role, she fosters connections between the company and the local business community.

She is also a Philadelphia Apprentice Network Lead, where she works with apprentices, employers and other partners to support workforce development opportunities. This work “exemplifies her passion for empowering the next generation of skilled workers,” her nominator wrote.


Andy Stutzman

Andy Stutzman

Andy Stutzman

Next Century Cities

Stutzman has been a digital equity advocate in Philadelphia for over a decade. He previously worked at Drexel University as a project director and director of operations at Drexel’s ExCITe Center.

Last year, Stutzman moved up to the national digital equity stage at Next Century Cities. As the org’s executive director, his nominator said, he “continues to support our local community while also building the ecosystem nationally.”


Lindsay Tabas

Tabas Consulting

Lindsay Tabas

Tabas is an expert at coaching founders and CEOs through her consulting company Tabas Consulting, especially with her Labs Preseed Startup Blueprint. She’s also worked with Ben Franklin Technology Partners, LIFT Labs and Techstars to guide startup founders.

Tabas’ nominator said she has been able to “touch a lot of entrepreneurs in the Philly area, and draw people from other areas into the Philly orbit.”


Sam Woods Thomas

Sam Woods Thomas

Sam Woods Thomas

Philadelphia Department of Commerce

Thomas is the senior director for business attraction and retention at the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce. He works closely with stakeholders in the region to attract new companies to the city and make sure that existing companies have what they need here. Thomas was previously director of life sciences and biotechnology for the Commerce Department, specifically focused on ecosystem growth in the life science sector.


Calan Wilson

Calan Walyn Wilson

Calan Wilson

Ben Franklin Technology Partners

As art director/manager at Ben Franklin, Wilson uses her creativity and experience with UX design to help the organization present itself as a resource to the community. She is always willing to help a founder, an investor or anyone else, according to her nominator, who described her as “a bright light and welcoming presence in the Philadelphia tech community.”


Updated on May 13, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: 1Philadelphia / Nerd Street / Accenture / Ben Franklin Technology Partners / City of Philadelphia / Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia / PACT / Temple University
Series: Thriving Tech Communities Month / RealLIST Connectors / RealLIST

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