Bill Rhoads

Senior Vice President, Esperanza Arts Center

Mr. Rhoads attained his undergraduate degree in music composition and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Following his studies in Madison, he pursued a degree in audio engineering and production from the Institute of Audio Research in New York City. His early career included roles directing the concert music division for Carl Fischer Music Publishers as well as presiding over  his own performing arts management and promotion agency through which he represented the interests of a wide variety of artists, publishers, and performers. In 2006, Mr. Rhoads’ professional career shifted to the management of arts institutions. As Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Orchestra of St. Luke’s/The DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York City, Rhoads successfully launched an innovative, business model that ensured the institution’s sustainability and success. Rhoads assumed the Executive Director role in 2016 at The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, where he oversaw all facets of operations, including fundraising, programming, production, marketing, human resources, finance, administration, and board member recruitment.


David Acosta

Artistic Director, Casa de Duende

David Acosta (Also known as Juan Armando David Acosta Posada) is a writer, poet, cultural worker and co-founder of Casa de Duende, along with his life partner Jerry Macdonald.

He has served on a wide range of committees and boards, including past work with the Philadelphia International Film Festival, The Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, The PA Council on the Arts, as well as a founding member of Our Living Legacy (1988), the nation's first festival devoted to art and AIDS. In 1993 he served on the East Market Street Sculpture Review Committee, which selected artist Raymond Sandoval’s Tanamend sculpture from among more than 3,000 artist proposals. He was a founding member of The Latin American Writers Collective, Desde Este Lado, as well as the magazine that bore its name. He was also a co-founder of the Philadelphia Working Fund for Artists with HIV/AIDS. In 1989 he curated the Pieces of Life Project at Taller Puertorriqueño which brought the National Names Project (Originators of the AIDS Quilt Project) to Philadelphia, and specifically to a Latino community in a large metropolitan city, at that time a first for the Names Project.

He has been involved in many boards including Taller Puertorriqueño, The Asian Arts Initiative, Spiral Q Puppet Theater, the Bread & Roses Community Fund, The AIDS Law Project, The Philadelphia AIDS Walk, The Legacy Fund, The Center for Lesbian, Gay Law and Public Policy, and served as an advisor to the American Friends Services Committee Latin American and Caribbean Desk among many others. He was also the first Latino appointed to the Philadelphia Mayor's Commission on Sexual Minorities from 1985-1989.

David Acosta is a founding member of the National Campaign for Freedom of Expression (NCFE) and of the Art Emergency Coalition (AEC). Both organizations were instrumental in their opposition to the culture wars of the 90s. NCFE went on to successfully sue the National Endowment for the ARTS on behalf of the NEA Four.

In 2007 he was one of 30 Philadelphia activists honored by Bread and Roses during their 30 year anniversary celebration for having broken new ground in building paths to social justice.

In 2008 he was awarded the Red Ribbon Award for his work in Public Policy and was honored at GALAEI’s 20th year anniversary celebration with the inaugural David Acosta Revolutionary Award (He was GALAEI’s founder.) GALAEI is now one of the two oldest organizations in the country serving Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans individuals. He was a past contributing editor to Spanish Poz Magazine which honored him in its 1998/1999 winter issue as one of 49 Latinos in the nation who’ve made a difference in the area of HIV/AIDS. Once again in November of 2010 he was named by the same magazine as among the one hundred most influential people in the United States working on HIV/AIDS. He has received many other awards for his work in both arts and culture, GLBT civil rights, and HIV/AIDS activism advocacy. He is also the recipient of the 1990 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and a past recipient of the 1989 Lambda Community Leader Award.Year.

His poetry has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies. Among them the Evergreen Chronicles, The Blue Guitar, the James White Review, The Painted Bride Quarterly, Philomel, Mayrena, The Americas Review, and the anthologies: American Poetry Confronts the 1990s, (Black Tie Press 1990), The Limits of Silence (Asterion Press 1991), Poesida, (Ollantay Press, 1995) and Floating Borderlands: Twenty Five Years of Latin American Poetry in The United States, University of Washington Press, 1998.

He has written and contributed articles to Cosa Cosa At Large on art and social change. In November of 2010 he curated “Rooted in Ancestors.” For Semilla’s opening Exhibit at the new gallery A Seed on Diamond.

In December of 2011 he curated, Witness: Artists reflect on thirty years of the AIDS Pandemic. Witness is a multimedia visual arts exhibition inviting artists to reflect on, explore and respond to the impact that the HIV/AIDS epidemic has had on our social, cultural and political life over the past thirty years. More recently he has served as a panelist for the Philadelphia Cultural Fund in 2011 and 2012.


Gerald Veasley

President, Jazz Philadelphia

Gerald Veasley’s musical odyssey has taken him around the world, but no matter where the celebrated bassist, bandleader, composer, educator, and curator has traveled he has always called Philadelphia home.

He brings his drive and passion for educating and motivating other musicians to his role as president of Jazz Philadelphia, where he hopes to celebrate and lift up the city’s jazz history, its established artists, and the next generation of Philadelphia-bred musicians.  

His record of service to musicians includes leadership with the Recording Academy (Grammy organization) where he served in numerous roles: Board of Governors, Chapter President, National Trustee, National Nominations Review Committee, Jazz Nominations Review Committee, and National Advocacy Chair.

Veasley attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied political science. However, he has dedicated his life to music; not only performing and recording but to educating and motivating other musicians. He has served on the faculty of Philadelphia’s University of the Arts and is the co-founder and artistic director of Gerald Veasley’s Bass BootCamp. The annual event, which was established in 2002, has informed and inspired hundreds of bass players of all levels and ages.

As his own extensive body of work attests, Veasley is a virtuoso on the six-string bass and he’s recorded or performed with many notable artists in jazz, R&B, and gospel: Joe Zawinul, Grover Washington, Jr., Odean Pope, John Blake, Nnenna Freelon, McCoy Tyner, Pat Martino, Kirk Whalum, Chuck Loeb, The Jaco Pastorius Big Band, Pieces of a Dream, Special EFX, Will Downing, Maysa, Gerald Levert, Teddy Pendergrass, Philip Bailey, and the Dixie Hummingbirds.

Veasley has recorded ten albums as a leader, including “The Electric Mingus Project” which reimagines the music of legendary bassist/composer Charles Mingus; “I Got Life”, a tribute to Nina Simone; and “Live at SOUTH” a collection of funk-tinged jazz originals captured in concert. Schooled by his mentors Joe Zawinul (of Weather Report fame) and saxophone giant Grover Washington Jr., Veasley seeks to blur musical boundaries, respecting tradition while moving forward.

Live at SOUTH was also the outgrowth of Veasley’s role as a curator of the Unscripted Jazz Series at SOUTH Jazz Parlor. Launched in October 2015 and co-curated by his wife and business partner Roxanne Veasley, the weekly series presents artists who, like Veasley, have broad musical tastes and experiences. The series has attracted many celebrated guest artists who appreciate the opportunity to showcase their versatility: Gerald Albright, David Benoit, Rick Braun, Randy Brecker, Alex Bugnon, Chuck Loeb, Eric Marienthal, Maysa, Raul Midón, Janis Siegel, Peter White, Kirk Whalum, and a growing roster of established and emerging artists.

The series’ stellar lineup features many of the same artists whose music was featured on the radio show he hosted on WJJZ, artists who have performed with him at major jazz festivals. Veasley plays an integral role in the Berks Jazz Festival, having presented concerts and All-Star jam sessions there for more than two decades. He currently serves as official Musical Host for the ten-day event.


Matt Rader

President, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society

Matt Rader is the 37th President of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is focused on deepening and expanding PHS’s efforts to use horticulture to advance the greater good in the Greater Philadelphia Region and beyond. Gardens and landscapes have shaped Matt’s life. He has lived and worked in magnificent landscapes from the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania to Stowe Landscape Garden, the University of Virginia, Monticello, and Fairmount Park. He combines a passion for horticulture with a deep love for historic preservation and cities. Matt grew up in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. He received his Bachelor’s in Architectural History from the University of Virginia and Master’s of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Center City Philadelphia with his partner Michael Smith, a conductor and organist.


Paul B. Redman

President & Chief Executive Officer, Longwood Gardens

Paul B. Redman is an award-winning leader of public gardens, known for his dedication to the beauty and sustainability of gardens, and to the training of future generations of horticulture professionals. A hallmark of Paul’s leadership is building a culture of planning to propel a shared vision forward.

As President and Chief Executive Officer of Longwood Gardens for the last 14 years, Paul has implemented institutional and strategic reforms that have positioned the Gardens as a premier horticultural, cultural, and educational institution of the 21st Century, while respecting the values of its founder, Pierre S. du Pont. While numbers aren’t the only measure of success, especially during this tumultuous time across the globe, Longwood’s growth as an economic engine, a cultural treasure, and a community supporter cannot be overlooked. Since Paul’s arrival attendance has doubled to almost 1.54 million visitors per year; Membership support increased from 17,000 to 73,000 households; and earned income has almost tripled. 

New community engagement programs have been created providing greater access; thousands of hours of staff time, talents, and annual funds have been donated to local and national organizations; and free virtual field trips have taught tens of thousands of children around the world. In May 2020, Longwood Gardens was still ranked the most visited paid public garden in North America and the most visited paid cultural attraction in Philadelphia.

A consummate professional, Paul freely shares his time and expertise, serving as the Leadership Cabinet Co-Chair for Seed Your Future, a national initiative to promote awareness and careers in horticulture; and previously serving as Board President and Treasurer of the American Public Gardens Association. His honors include: 2018 National Garden Clubs Award of Excellence; 2017 Distinguished Alumnus from the Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at Oklahoma State University; 2016 American Public Gardens Association Award of Merit; the International Garden Tourism Network’s 2015 Person of the Year; 2015 American Horticultural Society’s Professional Award; 2014 Wyck Strickland Award; 2014 American Society of Horticultural Science’s Dr. William A. “Tex” Frazier Lecturer; 2012 CEO of the Year by the Chester County Chamber of Commerce, Business & Industry; 2008 Distinguished Horticulture Alumnus from Oklahoma State University; and where his professional career first began, Franklin Park Conservatory, receiving the Ann Islay Wolfe Award for extraordinary contributions to the organization.

Paul has been working and studying in the field of public horticulture for more than 30 years. He received his Bachelor of Science Degree and Master of Science Degree in Horticulture from Oklahoma State University.


Jessica Powers

MBA Candidate, The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Jessica Powers is an MBA Candidate at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to beginning her MBA program, she served as an Investment Research Analyst in the Vanguard Group’s product development division. She started her career in’s leadership development program at the company’s headquarters in Seattle, Washington. 

While in Seattle, she was an active volunteer with ArtsFund, an arts advocacy organization, and completed their board-training program. Upon returning to the Philadelphia area, Jessica became a founding member of the Emerging Leaders Circle of the Cultural Alliance and now serves on the ELC’s steering committee. She is also a founding member and chair of the Philadelphia Theater Company’s young friends’ group, and she serves on the organizing committee of Play Brawl, PTC’s annual fundraising gala.

Originally from Huntingdon Valley, Jessica earned a presidential scholarship to Mount St. Joseph Academy in Flourtown where she graduated with distinguished honors. She earned a Bachelor of Science with honors from Cornell University where she was selected as an Outstanding Senior. 

In addition to enjoying all of Philadelphia’s cultural offerings, Jessica now lives in Wayne, practices yoga and Pilates, and ten years later, is still learning this game called golf. 


Hugh McStravick

Vice President, Client and Community Relations, PNC 

Hugh McStravick is the Vice President of Client and Community Relations for the Philadelphia, Delaware, and Southern New Jersey region of PNC. He is responsible for PNC’s regional foundation grantmaking, community sponsorships, and employee volunteer programs, as well as, PNC’s client entertainment and employee recognition event strategies. Through his work with PNC’s signature philanthropic programs – PNC Grow Up Great and PNC Arts Alive – he brings a range of experience from his involvement with many of the region's art, cultural, community and educational non-profit organizations. McStravick is deeply committed to making a difference in his community through his involvement with several area non-profits. He currently serves on the board of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia and is an active member of the steering committee for the Greater Philadelphia Corporate Volunteer Council. Prior to joining PNC in 2012, McStravick worked as a Development Officer at his Alma Mater, Gettysburg College, where he also earned a BA degree in Political Science.


Stanford Thompson

Founder & Executive Director, Play On, Philly!

Stanford Thompson is a musician and educator who serves as the Founder and Executive Director of Play On, Philly! and Founding Board Chairman of El Sistema USA, bringing music education to students in underserved areas throughout Philadelphia and beyond. Recognized as a TED Fellow, Stanford believes that music education is a powerful tool for positive personal and community change. Mr. Thompson serves on the faculties of the Global Leaders Program, SAAVY Arts Venture, and Dean of the Sphinx LEAD program while regularly lecturing at major Universities and Conservatories about leadership, entrepreneurship and social justice. As a consultant, he has guided the development of dozens of music programs across the United States and collaborated with major orchestras and arts organizations to develop new strategies and initiatives that helps provide equitable access to the arts. As a professional trumpeter, Stanford has performed as soloist and section member with major orchestras around the world and continues to perform chamber music and jazz. Stanford is a native of Atlanta, GA and hold degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program.


David Brigham

President & CEO, Historical Society of Pennsylvania

David R. Brigham, Ph.D. became the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in November 2020. 

Prior to joining the Historical Society, David was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA), the nation’s first museum and first school of fine arts. Dr. Brigham came to PAFA in 2007 as the Edna. S. Tuttleman Director of the Museum. He was later promoted to PAFA CEO in 2010.

At PAFA, Brigham presided over a transformative period of growth and innovation.  Working closely with the Board and his colleagues, he amplified PAFA’s mission by doubling its annual operating budget, increasing its annual giving from $2 million to more than $5 million, increasing its endowment by more than $40 million, and raising $24.5 million to fund PAFA’s campus master plan that resulted in more than 50,000 square feet of renovations. 

In advancing PAFA’s mission, Dr. Brigham transformed the exhibition program from presenting content organized by other museums to one that produced dozens of original exhibitions developed by PAFA’s curators, resulting in new scholarship, major publications, national tours, and recognition for previously under represented women and artists of color. The collections grew through gift and purchase by an unprecedented 25%, with a particular emphasis on contemporary art; works by women, LGBTQ artists, and artists of color; as well as a number of significant works by Hudson River School artists.

Brigham earned bachelor’s degrees in English and accounting, summa cum laude, from the University of Connecticut, before earning his master’s in museum studies/American civilization and doctorate in American civilization from the University of Pennsylvania. He has published, organized exhibitions, and delivered invited lectures on a broad range of American art from the 17th to late 20th centuries, including a book about PAFA’s founder Charles Willson Peale.


Veniece Newton

Veniece Newton, Founder/Executive Director, Community Angel Foundation

Veniece Newton, brings her love for community, drive for entrepreneurship and passion to empower youth through arts and culture. As the founder of Community Angel Foundation since 2008, she has led with its mission to empower, encourage and educate youth to become future leaders through volunteerism, education, career and cultural activities.

As the Founder of ENGAGEathon, she continues to carry her passion to make an impact through this social enterprise technology startup that tracks and rewards community engagement globally.  

The years of volunteering has allowed her to eventually find her way to what she truly loves, and that is to build our communities beginning with the youth. As a natural connector with an innovative and unparalleled ability to harness the power of relationship building, Veniece was eager to share her talents and resources with others by collaborating with various nonprofits and for-profit organizations to strengthen the awareness.

Early in her entrepreneurial career, her television and production skills led her to create, develop and produce segments for her online fashion television platform in which she managed teams in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Alaska, Los Angeles, Miami and New York City.

She is a seasoned professional with a superior record of community engagement and has been recognized with various awards including the American Legion Community Service Award and is currently a member of the District Attorney’s Youth Aid Panel while mentoring several high school students throughout the city of Philadelphia.

Ms. Newton has a BA in Marketing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Cum Laude Recipient from Fashion Institute of Technology, certificate acknowledgment through University of Pennsylvania - Fels School of Government for her Nonprofit Board Development & Governance training and is currently pursuing an MBA at FOX Temple University.

Veniece is a global traveler, woman of today and an inspiration for many to believe in yourself and to have hope for all. She not only has a flair for business and connecting people, but she also has a heart of gold and devotes her time to empower the next generation of leaders.