Founders / Leadership / Startups

Philly Startup Leaders’ Kiera Smalls is leaving her executive director post

She'll be staying in Philly with her new role, and will join PSL's board.

Kiera Smalls. (Courtesy photo by Melissa Alam)

Philly Startup LeadersKiera Smalls, who’s lead the organization as its executive director for the last two years, will be leaving her post at the end of the month, she told on Monday.

As of Aug. 3, Smalls will lead Bloc Delivery, a new ebike-powered delivery service that aims to make it easier and faster for local businesses to get their products to customers. And — phew — she’ll be staying in Philadelphia.

Going forward, Smalls will hold a seat on the PSL board to help implement some of the organization’s upcoming plans, like the recent $550,000 raised for the organization to grant to underrepresented founders — an initiative she spearheaded — and to help advise the Founded in Philly accelerator. A search for a new ED is underway with an anticipated transition in early fall, the board said.

Smalls began leading PSL in March 2018, and brought her experience as an entrepreneur with her: Alongside Takia McClendon, Smalls founded City Fit Girls, a fitness community for women.

She came into the role after three years as marketing manager of Bicycle Transit Systems, the Philly-based operator of bike-share programs in three cities, including Philly’s Indego, where Smalls was also the head of the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Bloc Delivery is “supported by” Bicycle Transit Systems, its website says.

Smalls told that she’s confident that the PSL team and the next executive director will take the org “to the next level.”

“The beauty in what PSL has is its team, and the systems and foundation and stakeholders involved to make our programing and our work with founders a success,” she said.

After working with founders for the last few years, Smalls said she’s excited to be on the other side growing Bloc, which was launched this year to support local small businesses via electric cargo bike delivery in Philadelphia and South Jersey.

“I got the bug to build,” she said. “I learned a lot from founders and other startup leaders over the years.”

Smalls has been instrumental in the significant changes to PSL’s branding and programming. Last summer, she told about the org’s new website and programing, including a new accelerator for idea-stage founders; the first Founded in Philly cohort wrapped up this spring.

And in 2019, under Smalls’ leadership, the organization held its first A Seat At The Table event, a revamped version of the annual Diversity Dinner with a focus on ensuring talks of inclusion and equity were happening within Philly’s tech community.

“Kiera has a rare combination of deep, strategic insights, coupled with exceptional execution and management skills. I am grateful for the work she did as Executive Director to guide and grow Philly Startup Leaders, which ultimately increased its impact,” Board President Jennifer Maher said in a statement. “We are excited to continue that work with her as a board member and are thrilled to see her step into such an important new role for Bloc Delivery.”

Smalls’ contributions to the organization created an “inflection point in the trajectory and impact of Philly Startup Leaders,” Board Chair Bob Moore said in a statement. “I’ve been a part of the PSL community for over a decade and I’ve never been more excited about the potential for what’s to come. We have Kiera’s foundational work to thank for that.”

Looking back on her time at the helm of the organization, Smalls said the work to get founders access to funds and to lower barriers to entry to the startup world, and the creation of the idea-stage accelerator, are sticking with her most. And the transition isn’t really a goodbye.

“I’m excited to be on the board, and be involved in that capacity,” she said. “I’ve had such a great experience with PSL, and a lot of that is the board, and everyone working toward that vision. I know the impact it had on me.”

Companies: Philly Startup Leaders

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