Super Power Moves: Philadelphia's biggest tech leadership shakeups of 2019 - Technical.ly Philly

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Dec. 18, 2019 1:19 pm

Super Power Moves: Philadelphia’s biggest tech leadership shakeups of 2019

Ten of the most influential chiefs and change makers who made career moves this year.
Clockwise, top left: Jenn Maher, Trooper Sanders, David Cohen, Sally Guzik.

Clockwise, top left: Jenn Maher, Trooper Sanders, David Cohen, Sally Guzik.

(Canva design by Paige Gross)

Power Moves is a column where we chart the comings and goings of talent across the region. Got a new hire, new gig or promotion? Email us: philly@technical.ly.


All year long, we keep track of the local Power Moves — aka the biggest leadership changes happening in our city and in Philly’s tech space.

Last week, we also celebrated the winners of our 2019 Technical.ly Awards, another nod to the hard work done in this community all year. And as we’re doing a lot of looking back on 2019 — and on the first decade of Technical.ly — we’re taking a closer look at the announcements, hires and moves by Philly leaders this year.

Though there are many worth highlighting, here are 10 of the biggest leadership changes (in chronological order) that Philly’s seen this year:

1. Marion Leary is now the director of innovation for Penn’s School of Nursing.

After 11 years as the director of innovation research for the Center for Resuscitation Science at the University of Pennsylvania, the 2017 Geek of the Year winner and entrepreneur took on a new role with the university’s nursing school at the top of the year.

“We define innovation as the application of something new or different that delivers value,” Leary told us during Corporate Innovation Month in October. “Innovation is not just technology or widgets, but it also includes the methodologies we use to solve problems, the products, processes and systems we create and how we communicate information to our patients, their families, and communities at large.”

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2. Jenn Maher was appointed as Philly Startup Leaders’ board president.

The CEO of 1776 — a coworking space that has locations across Philadelphia, New Jersey and D.C. — has been involved with the organization for about a decade. She was appointed as board president in January, saying, “I am humbled, privileged, and honored to continue to serve the entrepreneurs of Philadelphia. To me, this means current and future entrepreneurs.”

Her appointment also means the 10-year-old nonprofit is now entirely women led: Kiera Smalls came on as executive director in 2018 and oversaw PSL’s rebrand this summer.

A close up of Jenn Maher.

Jenn Maher. (Courtesy photo)

3. Sally Guzik joined the Cambridge Innovation Center as its director.

CIC, the entrepreneurship campus that operates out of University City’s 3675 Market, named Guzik — a marketing strategist and consultant who previously led operations and events at the company’s Miami location — as its new local director in March. She started working with CIC in April of 2018 as a senior community engagement lead in Philly, helping connect governmental, business and nonprofit leaders with CIC and its plans for the city.

“We’ve created a model across CIC that nurtures collaboration and growth and attracts investors seeking groundbreaking opportunities,” Guzik said in an email. “As a native Pennsylvanian, I’m excited to continue to tailor this to Philadelphia to help our clients reach their potential, while also inspiring them to broaden their vision from the global to the local.”

Sally Guzik

Sally Guzik. (Courtesy photo)

4. Ellen Hwang joined the Knight Foundation.

In April, Hwang, a former director at the City of Philadelphia with a focus on Philly’s approach to smart cities, stepped down from her role to lead the local program of Miami-based John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Hwang is often found leading stakeholder meetings or connecting with community-based organizations, and previously spearheaded the City’s SmartCityPHL initiative in close collaboration with the Office of Innovation and Technology.

In February, she was recognized for her work at the launch of the initiative’s roadmap, created with backing from Knight.

Ellen Hwang speaks to a group of workshop participants seated around a table.

Ellen Hwang. (Photo by Julie Zeglen)

5. Guru added Anne Raimondi and Paul Hepworth.

Center City’s Guru added two leaders to its executive team this year. Raimondi, the previous SVP of operations for Zendesk as well as an angel investor, startup advisor and Asana board member, joined as chief customer officer in June. She has remained in San Francisco, where Guru has a second office.

Cofounder Rick Nucci named the reasons why he was excited to bring the exec on at the time, ranging from “amazing human and fantastic culture fit” to “great experience scaling SaaS companies, having worked at Zendesk for many years, as well as Survey Monkey, Asana, and lots more,” he wrote in an email. “I have learned much from her already and she just started.”

And Hepworth, Guru’s VP of engineering as of September and also based in SF, holds a decade of experience in B2B SaaS, most recently as the VP of engineering at UserTesting.

6. Ken Murphy became RevZilla’s new CEO.

This summer, ecommerce brand and Navy Yard darling RevZilla got a new CEO in Murphy, the first person to hold the title outside of the company’s cofounders. (Anthony Bucci and Matt Kull have both held the CEO role, and third cofounder Nick Auger has served as CTO.) Murphy was named the new president and CEO of Comoto Holdings, the parent company of RevZilla and Cycle Gear, a 40-year-old West Coast-based motorcycle gear chain.

According to the Murphy, the change was the decision of the board — of which the cofounders remain members in addition to being shareholders. He brings a decade of executive leadership experience from Mattress Firm and beyond.

At the time of his hire, Murphy had yet to ride a motorcycle as an adult but said he was “committed to getting my motorcycle license by the end of the year.” Indeed, in November, the company announced he would be formally learning to ride at the New York stop of the Progressive International Motorcycle Show, reportedly the world’s largest consumer motorcycle show tour, held on Dec. 6.

Ken Murphy. (Courtesy photo)

7. Trooper Sanders was named CEO of Benefits Data Trust.

The tech-driven nonprofit that connects low-income people to public benefits and services announced in September that it had selected its newest CEO: Rockefeller Foundation fellow and former presidential policy staffer Sanders. He leads the BDT team of 170-plus employees, a role that was held by Ginger Zielinskie for 14 years before she announced she was stepping down in April.

“Too many people are working hard and doing their best but still cannot put food on the table or a roof over their heads,” said Sanders said in a press statement. “BDT works with states and communities all across the country to help people live healthier and more independent lives. I am honored and excited to join such an extraordinary team.”

Trooper Sanders. (Courtesy photo)

8. Joe Marsh was named head of esports venture T1 Entertainment & Sport CEO.

In yet another move to solidify Philadelphia as an esports destination, Comcast Spectacor announced a partnership with Korean telecomms giant SK Telecom to launch a joint esports organization in October. The organization put Marsh, who was most recently chief business officer for Comcast’s Spectacor Gaming Division and the Philadelphia Fusion Overwatch League team, at the helm. He oversees global operations in Philadelphia, Seoul and Los Angeles.

9. John Grady is leaving PIDC for Wexford Science & Technology.

Grady, longtime economic development leader and former president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), announced in November that he would be leaving his post in January to join development group Wexford Science & Technology. Though Wexford is based in Baltimore, Grady’s new role as SVP and Northeast region executive allows him to stay in Philadelphia.

During his tenure at PIDC, Grady worked on more than 60 community development projects, including healthcare centers, schools, neighborhood retail and mixed-used spaces mostly in underserved communities.

10. David Cohen is stepping away from his role at Comcast.

The long-time Comcast exec announced earlier this month that he would be stepping down from his day-to-day duties as senior executive VP and chief diversity officer during 2020. Cohen has been with the broadcast giant for nearly two decades. Over the years, his role has included corporate communications, government affairs and corporate administration, among other duties. He was integral in the company’s launch of the Internet Essentials program, which allows folks to purchase a computer for less than $150 and get internet access for $9.95 a month plus tax.

He’ll go on to work with Comcast as a senior advisor to the CEO, “continuing to provide advice and support to me and the other senior executives in the company,” CEO Brian Roberts said.

David Cohen. (Technical.ly file image)

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