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.
Jill Spector, Esq.
MaryBeth “Beth” Gonzales is an executive who helps government, businesses, and nonprofits achieve their mission, create value, and advance their causes. Committed to improving the lives of vulnerable populations, Beth is experienced in community engagement and working across governmental and non-governmental agencies to implement programs and policies that drive outcomes and impact, peak performance, results, and strong public/private partnerships that address serious and complex societal problems. Currently, Beth is the Deputy Director of Policy, Planning and Performance Management for the Office of Homeless Services for the City. Previously, she served as Director of Public Service Leadership Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, where she fostered collaboration among the sectors enabling large scale change in the Philadelphia region.
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 who keeps her busy and loving life!
Peter Andrew Danzig, Founder and Movement Coach at Theatrical Trainer; Certified Personal Trainer, Wellness and Life-Coach, Wellness Integration Specialist.
Peter acquired his B.A. in Theater Arts with a focus on Acting through Temple University. Shortly after graduation, he began working nationally as an actor, model and vocalist. In addition, he began his foray into television appearing on One Life to Live, PAN AM and others, soon becoming a member of SAG- AFTRA. In 2012, Peter was awarded a full scholarship to Villanova University as their Acting Scholar, where he went on to attain his M.A. in Theater with a focus on Acting, Directing and Dramaturgy. While in graduate school, he realized his passion for wellness and its integration with theater education, fight choreography and physical theater practice and began to develop his company THEATRICAL TRAINER, an active health collective that furthers research and practice in wellness opportunities for the creative individual. With multiple certifications in personal training, kinesiology, movement coaching and life-coaching he hopes to inform the landscape of theater practice to further include a stronger connection to the body. In his free time, Peter continues to choreograph, perform and collaborates as a teaching artist and professor with organizations such as Drexel University, University of the Arts, Arden Theater Company, SAG-AFTRA, and Philadelphia Young Playwrights.
"I am drawn now to research the ways in which the therapy that people find through the interdisciplinary approach to the arts can be paralleled in clinical approach to result in resolution, healing expression, comfort and community. What happens when you use stage-combat as a means of exploring aggression? Can photography with a worded statement allow people to find the voice and words they can’t bear to utter aloud? Can dance allow someone to be present with their body and escape anxiety and fear? These are the questions that have been fueling my research and passion."
Certified American Council on Exercise Master Trainer.
Certification in High Intensity Integration Movement.
Certified in Health and Wellness Integration.
Benjamin L. Jerner, Esquire. Benjamin L. Jerner is the managing partner and a founder of Jerner & Palmer, P.C., a law firm located in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. He has practiced law for over 20 years, concentrating his practice on estate planning, probate and estate administration, adoption and legal issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender clients.
Ben is a member of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, the National LGBT Bar Association, the National LGBT Bar Association’s Family Law Institute, and the Mazzoni Center’s Legal Advisory Board. Additionally, he has served on the boards of directors of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Committee on the Legal Rights of Lesbians and Gay Men, the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia and the National LGBT Bar Association.
Ben and his wife live in Elkins Park. Their two children are looking forward to attending another season at the White Pines Young Artist Camp.
Dr. Patricia Gerrity presently serves as Associate Dean for Community Programs at Drexel University’s College of Nursing & Health Professions. She focused her career on providing access to health care for underserved populations through the advancement of nurse-managed health centers. Nationally known for her work in promoting health in diverse urban communities, she received more than $15 million in grants from local, state and federal sources, including HRSA, the PA State Department of Health, the Independence Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts. She also serves as the director of the Stephen and Sandra Sheller 11th Street Family Health Services of Drexel University, a nurse managed, federally qualified health center in North Philadelphia. In addition to improving the health status of community residents, the center serves as a site for research, education and practice for the college’s faculty and students.
Dr. Gerrity completed a prestigious three-year fellowship through the Robert Wood Johnson Executive Nurse Fellows Program where she conducted a leadership project to expand the health center into a healthy living center with a strong community-based health promotion component. From 1998-2000 she served as a fellow at the International Center for Health Leadership Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she explored the redirection of health professions education and health services through academic- community partnerships for health.
Jada Jackson is Forest Legacy Program Manager for the Northeastern Area of the USDA Forest Service. A NASA Fellow Scholarship winner, Jada explains that her fascination with biology and agriculture began with her parents, and she persisted in professional success from vet school to biotech and into forestry. Along the way, she earned a BS degree in Biology from Tuskegee University and a MS in Forest Resources from the University of Minnesota. In her reflections about diversity and inclusion, Jada thinks about the talents of her father and many others who have been excluded from using their talents but if they had been given a seat at the table could have solved many of the problems we live and die with today. Jada served as Clerk of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, the Religious Society of Friends, from 2008 - 2014.