Startups

Power Moves: Code for Philly welcomed this Jarvus exec as its new chapter director

Plus, leadership additions to Houwzer and Verismo Therapeutics, and a handful of local tech finalists for EY's Entrepreneur of the Year awards.

Kat Jost.

(Courtesy photo)

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: philly@technical.ly.


Jarvus VP of Client Engagement Kat Jost is Code for Philly’s next co-director.

Jost told Technical.ly she was nominated and accepted the role in February from then co-directors Marieke Jackson and Michael Chow as well as Code for Philly and Jarvus cofounder Chris Alfano. The volunteer-based civic tech org’s co-directors own the local organizational strategy for projects, events and programming like hackathons, as well as manage its leadership team to execute its goals. In-person events will be returning this month, and Code for Philly currently has five mission-driven tech projects for which it is actively seeking volunteers, Jost said.

The chapter is also looking for a second leader for its current year-long cycle.

“To me, the most important and rewarding responsibility is driving the mission of Code for Philly forward by engaging with our vibrant community of volunteers and partners to bring public interest technology projects to life in Philadelphia,” she said.

See Code for Philly's upcoming events

Jost said leading the nonprofit, like her role at software agency Jarvus, involves lots of context about “several completely different civic and nonprofit projects at once while also being able to zoom out enough to focus on organizational strategy.”

The task can be challenging, but Jost enjoys it — especially the people management side of both roles, she said. Jost hopes to continue Code for Philly’s fellowship for underrepresented technologists for the third year in a row, further support the org’s existing project teams, launch a new partnership with the mental health nonprofit Black Men Heal, and build its communities on Slack and in person.

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Code for Philly’s focus on civic technology means Jost is thinking about tech through a focused lens. She said one of the biggest civic tech goals right now is designing technology for the public good based on data from real interactions with real people.

“We should all be thinking about the people that we’re building technology for, i.e. who we’re trying to serve, and how we can put them first, as opposed to throwing money and technology towards an idea without having a ground-level understanding of the problem,” she said. “Technology that doesn’t take real people’s feedback into account will not end up being used.”

A former GrubHub prez will head Houwzer’s board

Tech-enabled real estate brokerage Houwzer recently named Jonathan Zabusky — most recently the president and board director at GrubHub — as chairman of its board of directors, the company said.

The appointment aims to drive the Philly-headquartered company’s growth after its $118 million Series B. Zabusky will act as “co-pilot” to CEO Mike Maher and will be aiding Maher in refining the company’s corporate strategy, per a statement, and mentor Maher as a strategic partner.

Zabusky led Seamless as its CEO before its merger with GrubHub, then then led corporate strategy and development, product, marketing and corporate and restaurant sales as GrubHub’s president. Zabusky integrated multiple acquisitions and played a key role in the company’s initial public offering in 2014.

“I am incredibly excited to join Houwzer’s Board as executive chairman and to have the opportunity to work alongside Mike and his outstanding team. I’m energized by our mission to elevate the home buying and selling experience to become more fair, transparent, and seamless,” the exec said in a statement. “Houwzer’s robust suite of integrated tools, products and technology, coupled with a deeply engaged and aligned team of expert agents, facilitates a more enjoyable and productive real estate journey for its clients.”

Houwzer also recently launched a nonprofit fund for low-income, first-time homebuyers, called the RiseUp Fund.

EY picked its Entrepreneur of the Year finalists

CEO Thomas Colaiezzi and COO Jemma Barbarise with LifeBrand jerseys. (Photo via twitter.com/tommyjcola)

Ernst & Young announced the finalists for its Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 Greater Philadelphia Award this week. A panel of independent judges accounted for “entrepreneurial spirit, purpose, growth and impact, among other core contributions and attributes.” The regional winner will be announced in June 23, then go on to be considered for EY’s national and world awards.

“It’s an honor to be named a finalist for Entrepreneur Of The Year, the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs,” said honoree Thomas Colaiezzi, founder and CEO of West Chester-based social media startup LifeBrand, in a statement. “I’m so pleased to be recognized among the other visionary finalists in Greater Philadelphia and am inspired by their individual and collective achievements and leadership.”

Other familiar faces include Crossbeam CEO Bob Moore, ForMortiv CEO Bill Connors, IndeVets CEO Michael Raphael, MOBILion Systems CEO Dr. Melissa Sherman, Piano.io CEO Trevor Kaufman, Pinnacle 21 CEO Max Kanevsky, Vertex CEO David DeStefano and Houwzer’s Maher. Here’s the full list of local finalists:

  • Annovis Bio Inc — Dr. Maria Maccecchini
  • AscellaHealth, LLC — Dea Belazi
  • Bittenbender Construction — Emily Bittenbender
  • BM Technologies, Inc. — Luvleen Sidhu
  • Briarwood Lane — Mike Brennan
  • Carisma Therapeutics Inc. — Steve Kelly
  • Context Therapeutics Inc. — Martin Lehr
  • Crossbeam — Bob Moore
  • Di Bruno Bros. — Bill Mignucci
  • DWD & Assoc. Inc dba Just in Time GCP — Donna Dorozinsky
  • Event Strategy Group, LTD — Norm Aamodt and Renee Scullin
  • ForMotiv Inc. — Bill Connors
  • Fulton Financial Corporation — Philip Wegner
  • Green Lawn Fertilizing LLC — Matt Jesson
  • Houwzer — Mike Maher
  • IndeVets — Michael Raphael
  • LifeBrand — TJ Colaiezzi
  • MHS Lift, Inc. — Andy Levin and Brett Levin
  • MOBILion Systems, Inc. — Dr. Melissa Sherman
  • NCC Automated Systems, Inc. — Kevin Mauger
  • Optimal Strategix Group, Inc. — Dr. R Sukumar
  • Piano Software, Inc. — Trevor Kaufman
  • Pinnacle 21 — Max Kavensky
  • SMB Team — Bill Hauser
  • SocialLadder — Raavi Iqbal
  • Stream Companies — Dave Regn and Jason Brennan
  • Vertex Inc. — David DeStefano
  • Vision Solar — Jonathan Seibert

Verismo Therapeutics adds to its science team

Verismo Therapeutics, the 3675 Market St.-based maker of multi-chain KIR-CAR platform technology for CAR T-cells, welcomed two new scientists in April.

Jun Xu joined the team as its senior director of translational science, and will bring her years of experience in process development and drug product characterization to the role. She most recently served as VP of process development and clinical studies at UTC Therapeutics, where she started the department and established bioanalytical platforms for correlative studies. Xu has authored several manuscripts in top science journals and earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University.

Raymond Luke also joins the team as its director of MSAT. He comes to the role with more than a decade developing next generation cell therapies against solid tumor indications, and lead leadership teams in chemistry, manufacturing and controls.

“Both Jun and Raymond bring extensive experience in CAR T therapy innovation, and we’re thrilled to have them join our growing team,” Verismo CEO Bryan Kim said in a statement. “Their specialized backgrounds in immuno-oncology and manufacturing will serve as a strategic advantage as we advance towards our first-in-human clinical trial for our KIR-CAR platform.”

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