Professional Development
Awards / Municipal government

Power Moves: Meet Stephanie Orlando, Philadelphia’s new innovation manager

Plus, University City District announces two new hires, Jabari Jones announces a City Council run, a Comcast exec moves to O3, a Penn professor wins a Benjamin Franklin Medal and JumpButton Studio gets a new leader.

Stephanie Orlando. (Courtesy photo)
Full disclosure: Comcast is a Ecosystem Builder client. That relationship is unrelated to this report.

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

Last Monday, Stephanie Orlando stepped into big shoes on her first day as innovation manager at the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT). Orlando is taking over for Eliza Erickson, who held the position for nine years.

Orlando isn’t new to OIT, though — she started on the team as the innovation coordinator in 2019. Prior to Erickson’s leaving, Orlando said she worked closely with her on innovation programs. Orlando called the move to innovation manager a “natural progression” based on her previous experience with the team.

“I think that the opportunity to continue elevating, I think, our general mission is to kind of create and sustain a culture of innovation at the City of Philadelphia,” Orlando said. “Being able to carry that forward and elevate it and continue this work throughout a year that’s going to bring a lot of change in the city was something that I was really excited about.”

Andrew Buss, deputy chief information officer for innovation, said it feels odd to not have Erickson on the team anymore, especially because the two started innovation work in the City together almost a decade ago. However, he said the transition with Orlando has been easy, as they’ve known each other for three years now.

“I kind of knew that she would step into the role really easily and had a good background and context for the work we do and was so it seems to me committed to the public sector,” he said.

Over the last few years, Buss said the role has grown, especially with digital equity work during the pandemic. Both Orlando and Erickson were involved in developing that work.

Looking forward, Orlando wants to continue working on ways to attract and retain talent in the innovation space, especially young talent. She also wants to continue elevating and communicating her team’s work across the city.

“I want to make sure that we’re kind of tapping into other teams and departments that we haven’t had the opportunity to engage with to make sure that they know that we’re still here and we’re still carrying on this work and we have a number of different programs and things that we’re here to support them with,” she said.

University City District’s new staffers

The economic development nonprofit University City District (UCD) announced two new staff members last week, both of which are new roles.

Vincent Better is joining UCD as vice president of strategic advancement. Previously the vice president of sales and marketing at, he is bringing 20 years of digital media and business experience to his new role. Better posted on his LinkedIn: “Excited to contribute to the great work UCD is doing.”

And Erica Jorden is the new director of human resources at UCD. Her previous experience includes management at Wayfair and multiple positions at Comcast, bringing years of human resources experiences to her new role.

“I am over the moon excited and I work with an amazing talented team of folks! I have a great feeling about what’s to come,” Jorden posted on her LinkedIn.

Jabari K. Jones’ City Council run

Jabari K. Jones announced his run for the 3rd district City Council seat last week.

Diamonique Robinson and Jabari K Jones. (Courtesy photo)

Jones is the president of West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative (WPCC), an organization supporting small business corridors in West Philly. Jones announced on Jan. 20 that he would be transferring most of his “non-ceremonial responsibilities” to Diamonique Robinson, who was previously chief strategist and has now assumed the title of CEO at WPCC.

“I am confident that there is no one better for the job of addressing the coming challenges we face in neighborhoods,” Jones wrote in his announcement letter. Jones said he does not plan to resign as president at this time and will continue to be involved in the West Philadelphia business community.

Jones made the official candidacy announcement at an event on Friday, Jan. 27, where he was endorsed by recording artist, Freeway. At the event, Jones listed affordable housing, gun violence and low paying jobs as issues he plans to tackle if elected, according to a press release.

“If you have ideas, reach out to me. I am looking for better solutions, and I will be the Councilman you see in the district,” Jones said at the event. “I have been called to run for this seat by residents that want results over rhetoric and problem-solving over photo ops. Our community deserves bold leadership that understands the effect of legislation and holds the government accountable to the people of the 3rd District.”

Jones will run against incumbent Jamie Gauthier who is running for reelection in the 3rd district, as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Former Comcast exec joins O3

Customer experience company O3 announced this week that Michael D. Soileau was joining the company as CEO. Soileau was previously with Comcast for more than 20 years in various positions, and he was most recently vice president of strategy planning and development for Comcast Xfinity consumer services. In general, he has over 25 years of experience in leadership, sales, marketing and innovation.

“From strategy to implementation, O3 provides a future-forward approach that gives clients smart and innovative solutions that let them build deep and meaningful customer experiences,” Soileau said in a statement. “O3 creates long-term client partnerships and has the right mix of CX, data and technology expertise that companies need today and in the future. I am excited to join the company and look forward to moving our clients and business forward.”

Soileau replaces Keith Scandone, a founding partner of O3. Scandone will take on a new role in business development with Ozone Ventures, which is part of O3.

“Michael’s unique experience, business acumen, expansive network and shared values make him a perfect fit to accelerate O3’s growth,” Scandone said in a statement. “We’re fortunate to add Michael to an already incredible leadership team and look forward to collaborating on creating more dynamic opportunities to expand O3’s footprint.”

Penn scientist wins Benjamin Franklin Medal

Nader Engheta, a scientist at the University of Pennsylvania and a professor in electrical and systems engineering, was recently selected to be the 2023 recipient of The Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering. Engheta is one of nine people to receive a medal this year, and their accomplishments will be recognized with a ceremony in April at the Franklin Institute.

“As a scientist and a Philadelphian, I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Franklin Medal,” Engheta said in a statement. “It is the highest compliment to receive an award whose past recipients include some of my scientific heroes such as Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell and Max Planck.”

Engheta’s work with metamaterials and nano-optics helped him earn this award. He founded the field of optical nanocircuits, which combines nanoelectronics and nanophotonics.

“This award recognizes Dr. Engheta’s trailblazing advances in engineering and physics,” Vijay Kumar, dean of Penn’s school of Engineering, said in a statement. “The swift and sustainable technologies his research in metamaterials and metatronics offers the world are the result of a lifelong commitment to scientific curiosity. For over 35 years, Nader Engheta has personified Penn Engineering’s mission of inventing the future.”

New COO at JumpButton Studio

JumpButton Studio, a Philly-based studio that develops games, animations and apps, announced Jay-Ann Lopez would be joining the company as COO.

Jay-Ann Lopez sitting in a chair.

Jay-Ann Lopez. (Courtesy photo)

Lopez is the founder and CEO of Black Girl Gamers, a platform that supports diversity and inclusion in gaming and connects Black women. She is the cofounder of Curlture, a platform supporting Black beauty and culture. In line with all these themes, she also founded and coproduced an event called Gamer Girls Night In. Her last role was as a leadership sourcer at Facebook.

Nicodemus R. Madehdou, founder and CEO of JumpButton Studio, said in an email that the company is excited for her to bring a “wealth of experience and energy to the vision we have for the future of the games industry.”

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 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: West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative / JumpButton Studio / City of Philadelphia / Comcast / Franklin Institute / Office of Innovation and Technology / University City District
Series: Power Moves
People: Andrew Buss

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