David L. Cohen (President), AICP is a certified urban planner who has over 20 years of experience in urban planning, with a focus on public policy development and analysis, data analysis and visualization, and economic development. He presently serves as the Senior Manager of Program Analysis and Development for Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania. David has been actively involved in the formulation and adoption of a wide-range of zoning code revisions, economic development plans, and government planning documents. David has created award winning business improvement districts, including the country’s first multi-jurisdictional district. He has testified and presented before elected officials, zoning hearing boards, and public committees and boards. He has been a key participant in the development of major economic development projects, including economic analysis and policy work leading to the creation of the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia.
As a citizen, David serves as the Chairman of the Cheltenham Township Economic Development Task Force and as a member of the Cheltenham Township Ad-Hoc Zoning Committee. He also serves as the Treasurer of the Cheltenham Township Community Development Corporation, on the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission's Public Participation Task Force, as a Board member for the Eastern Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, and as the Recording Secretary for Friends of High School Park. In the past he has served as a member of the Cheltenham Township Open Space Committee, as a member of the Cheltenham Township Comprehensive Planning Committee, and as a founding Board member of Scenic Philadelphia. David performs in musicals with Beth Sholom and Adath Jeshurun where last appeared in Annie. He has also has sung with various choirs and has performed with Stephen Schwartz, Theodore Bikel and Fred Hellerman. Mr. Cohen has an undergraduate degree in political communications from Emerson College; a masters degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois; and an Executive MBA degree from Saint Joseph's University. He lives in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
Cathy Simpson discovered her gift for acting while she was in high school in St. Louis. After graduation, she joined their local community theater, performing in Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. At that time, a young black girl did not usually aspire to be an actor. But a friend convinced Cathy to audition a Langston Hughes poem for Carnegie Mellon’s BFA program: Ms. Simpson was not only admitted to the program, but was awarded a scholarship. And Cathy had the opportunity to study with Katherine Dunham, the Matriarch and Queen Mother of Black Dance. Cathy has been featured in performances from New York to Washington, D.C. and was nominated twice for the Helen Hayes Awards. Cathy’s home is now Philadelphia, where she has been a company member of People’s Light & Theatre since 1994 and has performed with companies that include the Wilma Theater, Arden Theatre Company, Philadelphia Theatre Company, Young Playwrights, and InterAct Theatre. Nominated three times for Barrymore Awards, Ms. Simpson won the Best Supporting Actress Award for her performance in Freedom Theatre’s The Old Settler and the Kevin Kline Award for Best Supporting at St. Louis Black Rep for "Song For Coretta". Referred to the American Historical Theatre by AHT’s Mr. Bruce Robinson, Ms. Simpson worked with AHT’s Producing Director, Pamela Sommerfield in preparation for the July 4th Millennium Celebration on the Mall in Washington D.C. Other venues graced by Cathy Simpson’s interpretations include the White House Visitor’s Center, Congress Hall and the Deshler-Morris House. Cathy is part of a permanent installation at the African American Museum, where she is featured in film clips of freedom fighters. She is a Board Member of The Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia.
Jon Sweigart is a Praxis consultant with over a decade of experience in senior management, talent development, and human resources in support of mission-focused, results-oriented organizational learning and performance. His Praxis work focuses on leadership and team development, assessment and coaching, group facilitation, and employee communication that helps organizations create productive, healthy work environments, engages employees at all levels, and builds ownership culture in its broadest sense.
Prior to joining Praxis, Jon served as Vice President of Personnel and Professional Development at Congreso, a leading Philadelphia human services non-profit. As part of a comprehensive strategic planning process, Jon helped design, develop, and implement a signature service delivery approach to better integrate Congreso’s multiple services based on customer-centered, data-informed, and culturally appreciative principles.
Jon has designed, delivered and evaluated multiple organization-wide professional development initiatives including leadership development, supervision and management, diversity, and on-boarding. As a facilitator, his approach combines meaningful interaction, humor, and a blend of methods based on the way adults learn. His approach emphasizes a shift from intermittent, event-based training delivery with limited impact to more strategic, sustained, and process-oriented on-the-job learning and performance support for greater impact and return on investment.
He is a member of the American Society for Training and Development and holds a bachelor’s degree in English/communication from Goshen College and a master’s degree in clinical social work from the Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research.
Jill Spector, Esq.
MaryBeth “Beth” Gonzales is an executive who helps government, businesses, and nonprofits achieve their mission, create value, and advance their causes. Experienced in community engagement and working across governmental and non-governmental agencies to implement programs and policies that drive outcomes and impact, Beth is a leader committed to peak performance, results, and creating strong public/private partnerships that address serious and complex societal problems. She presently serves as the Director for Public Service Leadership Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, where she fosters collaboration among the sectors enabling large scale change in the Philadelphia region. Prior to Drexel, Beth worked in various roles and positions in Washington, DC and New York City from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLC, the City of New York Mayor’s Office, and the American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy to nonprofits such as Women in Need, United Way and the National Human Services Assembly.
Beth holds a BA from Howard University, a Master’s in Counseling Psychology from New York University and an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. She is a Board Member of the Johnson House Historic Site, Philadelphia’s only accessible and intact stop on the Underground Railroad and is a blogger for a popular creative play and parenthood website, lollietot.com, where she writes on a variety of topics relating to infants, toddlers, elementary aged children, tweens, and parenting philosophies.
A lover of storytelling, words and history, Beth is a creative soul who writes poetry, plays and historical fiction. She is passionate about the arts, eradicating homelessness and improving the quality of life for girls and women throughout the world. Beth lives in Germantown, Philadelphia with her daughter Zoe (6) who keeps her busy and loving life!