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This year, Jeff Marrazzo, cofounder and former CEO of Spark Therapeutics, is this year’s Commercialization Award honoree. The Science Center noted his private, public and nonprofit sector work, along with the 11 years he built and grew Spark Therapeutics in Philadelphia. In March, the former CEO said he was stepping down, after he’d been slowly transitioning out of his role following the company’s massive sale to Roche in 2019.
The Commercialization Award recognizes those who are “catalysts” in the acceleration of tech transfers and who are developing new ways to transition discoveries to the marketplace.
“Over the course of 11 years, Jeff created and built Spark Therapeutics into the world’s first fully integrated, commercial gene therapy company — from an idea within the walls of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) to a private, venture-backed start-up and a publicly traded biotech company, to an independent operating unit within Roche,” the Science Center said.
James Burnett, the executive director of community development financial institution VestedIn, was named as the Science Center’s Capital Award honoree. Burnett has spent 34 years in the financial services industry, and as an adjunct professor at Thomas Jefferson University. In 2020, Burnett joined three partners with the creation of Black Squirrel Collective, a company focused on identifying the challenges businesses have to grow and helping them identify the appropriate resource for their development. He also sits on the board of orgs like the Chamber of Commerce and the PA CDFI Network.
“Mr. Burnett is responsible for managing and growing VestedIn’s impact on small businesses in Greater Philadelphia,” the Science Center said, including through commercial lending and financial education.
Jimmy White IV
Jimmy White IV, the director of engineering for Four Seasons Philadelphia and a professional speaker, earned the Science Center’s Cultivator Award. He served in the US Navy from 2000 to 2006 as a nuclear electrician.
White is involved in many programs, including as a GW Bush Center Veteran Leadership Program scholar, an alumni of the Leadership Philadelphia program, a national award winning youth/veteran advocate with the Travis Manion Foundation, a TEDx speaker, the founder-in-residence for the Venture Cafe’s OnRamp entrepreneurship cohort, a board member of the Community Partnership School, a member of the Military Veterans in Journalism speaker bureau and mentor, and an inspirational speaker for the Philadelphia Union Foundation IAM Project.
And Shannon Morales, founder and CEO of Tribaja, was named the Science Center’s Convene Awardee. The entrepreneur recently took first place at CBK Ventures’ first pitch competition, which came with a $25,000 investment, as she began fundraising for her company. Tribaja’s platform has grown to be a 7,000-member community with more than 150 partnerships geared toward building on-ramps to tech careers for underrepresented professionals.
“Shannon has successfully scaled Tribaja to a global tech talent network that propels the growth of companies such as Lyft, Microsoft, Comcast, and many more,” the Science Center said.
The award honorees will be celebrated during the Nucleus Awards celebration on Sept. 28. Funds raised from the event help sustain the Science Center’s programs, which in 2021 supported 200 startups, gathered 13,000 attendees across 400 events, and engaged 400 middle and high school students in STEM education, per the org.
“The 2022 honorees represent the exemplary talent, discovery, and opportunity that make Philadelphia such a vibrant city rooted in a collective determination to push beyond the status quo,” President and CEO Tiffany Wilson said in a statement. “I congratulate them on their incredible accomplishments and contributions toward building a more innovative, equitable future.”
Philly Startup Leaders has an updated board
Philly Startup Leaders has announced its 2022 board of directors. The board is responsible for guiding the work of the org, and for bringing a “deep understanding of entrepreneurship, a passion for mentoring startups at their early and growth stages, a knowledge of global startup ecosystems, and an unwavering commitment to ensuring that Philadelphia startup founders have what they need to be successful,” per an announcement.
This year’s board members include Mercedes Ballard, Rick Genzer, Nico Westerdale, Trina Jones, Andy Salamon, Antonia Dean, Mark Wendaur, Daniel Gardner, Munir Pathak, Andrew Hoagland, Nicole Hoffmann and Chuck Kennedy.
Each of the board members have selected an area of interest where they bring the most value, board president and Switchboard Live founder Rudy J. Ellis said. Philly Startup Leaders will also be forming subcommittees in governance, community engagement, ecosystem partnerships and fundraising.
“We have assembled a fantastic board of directors and advisors, that are eager to roll up their sleeves to support our initiatives of increasing the number of entrepreneurs in Philadelphia,” Ellis said in a statement.
P.S. Apps are still open for the next PSL accelerators:
SPREAD THE WORD! 🗣 Deadline Extended for our Fall Accelerator Programs! Applications for our #blockchain and #foodinnovation programs will now be accepted through 8/28. Click to learn more and apply! https://t.co/Bqb1v8vt76
— PhillyStartupLeaders (@startupleaders) August 19, 2022
Life Science Cares adds new director of development
Life Science Cares has welcomed Brandi Burgess as its director of development. The role supports the nonprofit’s mission of providing a platform for companies and their employees to “make a difference” through volunteering and grants, Burgess wrote on LinkedIn.
Burgess is the former dMorgan Berman, who came on as executive director in fall 2021.Neumann University. At Life Science Cares, she joins
Keighan Gunther has left LaunchCode
Keighan Gunther departed his local VP role at tech education nonprofit LaunchCode for a new position with Vanguard: project lead for environmental, social and corporate governance. He will oversee Vanguard’s supplier sustainability program, with a focus on DEI.
“Basically, I get to support diverse businesses to come in as suppliers at Vanguard and also champion the ESG work that I love as a social worker and an advocate,” he told Technical.ly.
He spent a year and a half at LaunchCode, in which time the org “graduated over 110 Philadelphians in our classes, launched 90+ careers in the tech industry,” and has “over 80+ students currently enrolled in coursework,” Gunther wrote in a LinkedIn post.
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