Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney:
Leadership from the Heart
Leadership from the Heart
I’ve lived in the suburbs of Philadelphia for more than forty years. I’ve never followed city politics, but rather national politics and for the last two years it’s been almost a full time job. Caring for people seems to have fallen off the agenda of many politicians.
I was not looking to be interested in Philadelphia’s 99th mayor who came into office on January 4, 2016. This interest found me as part of two photo essay projects- “Olney Advocates: Diversity’s Power To Change and Unite People” and “Finding The Humanity Of Refugees.” This story is not about politics or evaluating Mayor Jim Kenney’s job performance- that’s not my skill or interest. This story is about understanding the compassion that I’ve seen in him and that is often missed in typical political coverage. It captured my interest and I hope it will capture yours.
In June 2017, while I was working on the Olney project, “Passport PHL” came to Olney: "… to encourage more Philadelphia residents to explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods and immigrant-owned businesses.” I was there to photograph the event for my friends at the North 5th Street Revitilization Project. Mayor Kenney came to Olney to sample great food at five diverse eateries.
Mayor Kenney enjoyed samples of the many culinary treats available on the North 5th Street corridor in Olney.
As we went from eatery to eatery the mayor was very friendly to each staff and readily posed for pictures that would surely end up on their walls as mementos of a special visit. There was no way to judge if the mayor was being genuine or just doing what was expected of him.
But there was a moment that was unplanned. As we walked towards an eatery, the mayor noticed three children hiding behind a parking meter. I have no idea if they knew this was the mayor, but he was wearing an intimidating business suit not typical of Olney and was followed by an entourage. While he didn’t have to do this, he broke ranks and extended a friendly hand. When I reviewed my images later in the day, I thought: “Who is this man?” This question would remain unanswered for a year until I next saw Mayor Kenney in action.
“Love Your Park Week” was celebrated at Olney’s Fisher Park in May 2018. Mayor Kenney attended wearing a bright blue “Phillies” sweater. When he stepped to the podium to offer support for the Philadelphia park system, he did something that appears to be his signature: after reading prepared remarks, the glasses come off and he speaks from the heart.
As he spoke, the answer to “Who is this man?” was being answered:
“I just want to say regarding our issue of equity, and this is really important for this administration, we need to fix our schools, our infrastructure, and our institutions…
If you are a 10 year old little boy or girl living in a struggling neighborhood, you go to a struggling school and are not getting the education you are supposed to; you leave at 3:00 or 3:30 in the afternoon and go to a recreation center or library for after school help or computer access and everything is a mess, the ceiling is falling in and rain is coming through the windows; by the time you’re 18-20 years old you have no feeling of equity in your life- you become cold, become cold to life, cold to interactions with people and that’s what we need to stop…
In addition to changing our poverty issues, we need to be sure that young people in our neighborhoods understand that we care about them and that there is a future in the city for them… I know that the beverage tax annoys people every now and then (this tax pays for Philadelphia’s free pre-K program), but when you have other governments like Washington D.C. which is a total mess, Harrisburg which is less of a mess but still a mess, not wanting to invest in people or invest in education, invest in our population, we have to do it ourselves… So let’s fund our schools, let’s take care of our parks and recreation centers and fix up our libraries, and let’s have an equitable society for all of our kids!” (huge applause)
One answer to the question is that he is a man who sees investing in children as critical for the future. Not doing so means at-risk kids leading to an endless cycle of poverty, lawlessness, and declining cities… His hand always goes out to children.
One month later I went to the “World Refugee Day” celebration at City Hall as part of my refugee/immigrant project. Mayor Kenney read his prepared remarks about the value of refugees and the challenges they face both in the U.S. and globally. Then the glasses came off and he gave a remarkable extemporaneous speech which was influenced by the Trump administration’s actions at the Southern border.
Anyone who questions the importance of immigration should read these powerful words from Mayor Kenney:
“I would just like to say, my own history in this country is one of a refugee- not me personally but my ancestors…
Because they were being starved out of their homes and farms, they decided they had no other choice but to leave; they got on what were called coffin ships and they sailed across a terrible ocean in the Northern part of the Atlantic- many of them died in the crossing and were buried at sea… When we got to Boston, New York and Philadelphia, we literally crawled off those coffin ships and went on with our lives; we had no papers or documents- Ellis Island didn’t open until 1892 and most of us came here in the 1840’s…
We were told: ‘Get the hell out- we don’t want you here- your presence here is a plot from the Catholic Church and the Pope to take over America!’… Sounds similar to what they say about Muslims today; these know-nothings were the Donald Trump followers of the 1840’s; they felt it was necessary to harass, to start riots, to burn down churches- two were burned to the ground in Philadelphia, one in Kensington (St. Michael’s) and the other in Old City (St. Augustine’s); they were going after St. Philip Neri in Queen Village but were fought back by the Pennsylvania Guard and twelve people lost their lives…
I tell you these stories because when you are a 'hyphenated American' and you’ve been here for a long time you sometimes forget your heritage and history; you have to remember your history so you don’t push other people away who are trying something similar to what your own ancestors did and that goes for every ethnic group in this country…
My religion, and all others if I’m not mistaken, teaches us to be kind to the stranger, to feed the hungry, to visit those in prison… And I can assure you that the people who are directly involved in this debacle- in this terror we’re seeing in Texas with these babies and baby prisons- they are going to answer to God when they present themselves for entry into heaven and she’s not going to be happy at all!!…They may have the capacity to brush this off and lie their way out of it, but there’s no lying in heaven- they will have to answer for themselves…
So God bless you all- let’s stick together as a city so we can get through this terrible time in our country.”
So another answer to the question is that he has enormous compassion for people, whoever and wherever they are- he’s a politician whose leadership comes from the heart. I’m hooked! Now that I now know who he is, I want to know where his compassion comes from and I want to see it in action… So, how to make it happen?
As part of the Olney Advocates photo essay I had the privilege to interview City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker. Like Mayor Kenney, she has tremendous compassion for people and it shows in her leadership. And she has great respect for Mayor Kenney:
“What we’re seeing in this nation is a desire for authenticity which is what you get and what you feel when you hear Mayor Kenney… He tells the truth knowing that it’s going to make some people uncomfortable when you speak truth to power!”
After explaining my interest in understanding Mayor Kenney as a person rather than as a politician, Councilwoman Parker graciously connected me to the mayor’s office. This led to my participation in the 2nd anniversary celebration of Mayor Kenney’s pre-K program and an interview in his office at City Hall.
“PHLpre-K” Second Anniversary Celebration
January 4, 2018 was the second anniversary of the initiative probably most valued by Mayor Kenney- free high quality pre-K. This comes from his deep belief that if a child is not reading by the 3rd or 4th grade their future will be at great risk.
The celebration was held at “Your Child's World,” a pre-K school in the Elmwood section of Southwest Philadelphia. The building is a fortress-like brick structure that was actually a skating rink when the mayor was growing up. While not very inviting from the outside, the inside reveals a warm and fun learning space for young children- this is a wonderfully noisy place.
Philadelphia press was invited to hear talks from members of the Kenney administration and from a pre-K mom. This was followed by a tour.
The mayor’s podium and seating were arranged in the facility’s large main room. Next to the podium was a poster that says it all: “Philadelphia’s free pre-K program helps children succeed.”
Attendees received “By The Numbers,” a colorful printout summarizing PHLpre-K’s statistics for the first two years: enrollment, providers, family demographics, workforce impact, parent and caregiver feedback.
We learned that the pre-K program offers benefits beyond getting children off to a good start. It builds businesses such as Your Child’s World and creates employment opportunities. PHLpre-K is a key part of Philadelphia’s future.
After several speakers, the mayor was introduced. With glasses on, Mayor Kenney began by reviewing the first two years of the program with thriving children and significant impact on Philadelphia’s economy. He directed particular thanks to parents: “… who have faith in us and faith in this program.”
Then the glasses came off, his face brightened and he spoke from the heart:
“I’ve seen it myself… I went to an opening day of kindergarten last year- opening days are a little rough- kids are hanging onto their mom’s ankles and necks and crying… There were five children sitting erect at their desks; I stayed for the class and asked: ‘How many of you children have gone to pre-K’ and those five raised their hands and I knew then and there they were ready for the work and will make great strides to reading by the 3rd or 4th grade on their way to high school, college, CTE (Career Technical Education), whatever they want to do to become contributing members and solid citizens of our city and they can’t do it without an education.”
A pre-K mom took the podium to share her experience with the program:
"I’m going to start by talking about where my son was before he got here; he went to a daycare and initially I was able to get financial support from CCIS (Child Care Information Services of Philadelphia), but once I started my new job with SEPTA (South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) I made too much for CCIS support but not enough to pay for daycare out-of-pocket; a relative recommended that I go on the website for pre-K; I came in and they made enrollment very easy for me; I visited a couple of times to see the kids and make sure the facility runs smoothly… My son had a good adjustment- the first couple of days he wined and cried but after that he was OK; I love his teacher- she’s a sweetheart; he’s going to be here for at least two years to learn reading and writing by the time he is finished… So I’m really comfortable with the program and everything that it’s done for me and my family, especially financially."
In observing Mayor Kenney on several occasions I’ve noticed that he can seem stoic. I watched for signs of emotion as he listened to this mom speak about the impact of pre-K on her family. With all the push-back he has endured about the beverage tax, this mom made it worth it… and the emotion broke though on his face.
Tour of Your Child's World
In touring classrooms, what jumps out is that pre-K is much more than play. Teachers provide learning and developmental tasks and each child receives a very spirited “high-5” from the teacher and cheers from schoolmates when they complete a task- this reinforcement is so important. The teachers are extremely engaged and nurturing to the children- it’s quite a joyous environment. Could the teachers have been putting on a show for the mayor and the cameras? Perhaps, but 3 and 4 year olds are totally pure- they’re learning and having a great time doing it.
Mayor Kenney got trained in the fine art of the high-5 and really seemed to enjoy it. While it looks like fun, this experience is hugely impactful for these children as the mayor would explain.
As Mayor Kenney rose from this little table, I asked:
Mr. Mayor, how does it make you feel when you see this?
“It makes me feel happy… (said with a chuckle) I’m not often happy in this job but this makes me feel happy; it makes me feel like we’re actually getting something done and these lives are going to be changed- not changed but their potential will be reached as much as possible.”
And if you didn’t do this, what would happen to them?
“I don’t know what would happen to them- I’m sure they would survive or be unfulfilled, or not meet their potential, or maybe end up incarcerated or in some place bad where we don’t want to see them… I was just telling a teacher: ‘You can see how proud they are when they’re on task- doing the task gives them a sense of pride and that builds their belief they can do things.’”
A student demonstrates the impact of successfully completing a task… In this exercise, students select a card with a number on its face. The reverse side has a hook-and-loop fastener. A nearby wall has corresponding numbers with a fastener on their faces. The student’s task is to find the matching number on the wall and to attach their card.
Appearing to be in deep thought, she spots the “7” on the wall which is the number on her card.
She looks back at her card to check.
Her lucky-7! She’s developing pride in her abilities just as the mayor said: “You can see their physical and facial reaction to the fact they are in a quality setting, learning and being reinforced in their own minds about their abilities, and being reinforced by their schoolmates!”
Mayor Kenney just can't get enough of these children.
They offered their guest a snack which he gladly accepted.
And then it was time to say good-bye to his special friends.
The Interview at City Hall
I waited in the wood-paneled reception area of the mayor’s office suite. The outside door has a sign that speaks to the humanity of this administration. It offers welcome to all people no matter how they identify- I knew I was in the right place.
“He’s ready,” said Deana Gamble (Communications Director, City of Philadelphia) as she came towards me. She arranged the interview in the hope that such a humanistic story would be beneficial to the mayor, and that is my goal.
We walked through a few doors. A final door opened and Mayor Kenney was standing there with an outstretched hand. I wanted to freeze the action so that I could be a tourist for just a moment. I was in the office of the mayor of the 5th largest city in perhaps the most magnificent city hall in the country. I wanted to take it in, to see what was on the walls, to see the history in that room, but that wasn’t my job at a moment I had pondered for almost two years… We sat at a large conference table on the opposite wall from his massive desk. I fumbled to get all my papers and camera out of the two bags I carried.
There was some initial conversation between the mayor and Ms. Gamble about how much time we would have- the mayor was committed to the hour that was planned. That was a good sign because going in I had no idea how he would react to this interview- would he be open or frustrated with another waste of time?
I explained as quickly as I could about my work to create photo essays on topics of social justice and explained what I had seen in him during the last two years- I made the point by showing the picture of him reaching out to the children in Olney. He was very attentive and appreciated the opportunity- I guess he is more accustomed to people giving him a hard time. I made it clear that I was not there to discuss policy, but rather to understand his humanity… After I finished my litany I said: “What I need to know is- How did Jim Kenney become Jim Kenney?” He took control of the interview with a stream of consciousness about his childhood and commitment to social justice. I followed along just asking a few questions when I needed to dig deeper into his beliefs, all the while taking a constant stream of images.
He sat in front of a photograph appearing to be from the 1800’s. I didn’t immediately recognize the man until later when I realized that it is Octavius Catto (February 22, 1839 - October 10, 1871).
Catto was a civil rights activist in Philadelphia who was murdered on election day 1871 over issues of suffrage for African Americans. Mayor Kenney was instrumental in having a sculpture of this unsung hero produced and placed at the South side of Philadelphia’s City Hall- he began this effort fifteen years earlier while on the city council. In September 2017 when he unveiled the sculpture, the first monument to an African American on city property, Mayor Kenney said: “It’s my hope that every child in Philadelphia and America will know as much about Catto as they do about George Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.” ... Given what I already knew and what I was to learn about Mayor Kenney, having Octavius Catto at his back is probably very reassuring to him.
The magnificent sculpture of Octavius Catto at Philadelphia City Hall.
“The Jesuits literally indoctrinate you with the idea that you are never truly happy until you are in service to other people.” (Mayor Kenney)
Mr. Mayor, how did you become the person you are today?
“My parents and the Jesuits for the most part… I lived in a neighborhood growing up in the 60’s and 70’s that was not a very open-minded diverse group of people; the N-word was not uncommon but was absolutely forbidden in our home; my mom especially would not allow that kind of language in the house and would tell people: ‘You said it once, if you say it again you are going out the door- you don’t speak that way in front of my kids- I don’t want them having those ugly images and attitudes about people!’”
“That was my first ‘protection;’ my second protection was when my parents literally forced me to go to St. Joe’s Prep (St. Joseph's Preparatory School, known as "The Prep", is an urban, private, Catholic, college preparatory school founded in 1851 in Philadelphia within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It is run by the Jesuits.)… I didn’t want to go, I wanted to go to Bishop Newman high school with my friends; they said you have to go for a year and if you don’t like it you can leave, but within 3-6 months I was hooked.”
“The Jesuits literally indoctrinate you with the idea that you are never truly happy until you are in service to other people; so you can be successful, you can be wealthy, you can be famous, but you are never going to experience inner happiness until you are helping people with their lives.”
“It was a wonderful brotherhood- the only regret I have about The Prep is that it wasn’t coed or there wasn’t a female version of the school even if it was separated; my son went and graduated in ’07, and I would have loved to have my daughter go.”
You were thinking inclusion even as a teenager:
“Oh yeah, and the other thing that The Prep did for me, and this is thanks to the Fisher Family and Gino’s Hamburgers at the time- Mr. Lou Fisher provided scholarships for African American kids to go to The Prep to more diversify the school, and that’s where I met people of different color that I became friendly with; before that I didn’t have any friends that were African American, Latino, or Asian because I grew up in a white Irish Catholic enclave and all my friends were white Irish Catholics… So The Prep and Fisher’s generosity allowed me to interact with people I would never have interacted with and make friends that I still have today, so that was a great experience.”
“I teach kids that you don’t have to beat up the bully- all you have to do is to shelter the one being bullied.” (Mayor Kenney)
Your commitment to equity and the belief that everybody should have equal access- where does that come from?
“I just don’t like bullies and nasty mean people who pick on people because they think they can.”
Is that what is happening in our society today?
“That’s what our president is- he’s a man who represents the height of bullying- he’s just a bully through and through… At some point the bully gets his, and the bully ends up a coward in the end- I think most bullies are cowards; there are lots of reasons why people become bullies- things happen in their lives, maybe they were battered around or bullied themselves.”
“I teach kids that you don’t have to beat up the bully- all you have to do is to shelter the one being bullied; so when a person eats lunch at a table by themselves all year long and are susceptible to that kind of bullying, just say: ‘Come on over and sit with us’- that’s all you have to do; just bring someone into the mix and make them feel like they are worthwhile, that they are sheltered in some way and they have a group of people who have their back- truly that’s what it’s about!”… There could be no better expression of Mayor Kenney’s commitment to equity and equal access.
Do you think it’s unusual for a politician to feel that way in today’s world?
“I’ve had access to politicians that I admire: I think Bob Casey (United States Senator from Pennsylvania) is a thoughtful caring empathetic person- he has Jesuit roots too, in fact he was thinking about becoming a Jesuit at some point so he has that type of thinking; I think Tom Wolf (Governor of Pennsylvania) is that way- a thoughtful decent person who doesn’t look for conflict… I think the key is that if you aren’t so full of yourself that you need all of the attention, then you have the ability to be empathetic and sympathetic.”
Isn’t it hard to be a politician and not be full of your self?
“No, for me it’s the thing I enjoy about it- doing things that people don’t expect; they don’t expect you to stand in line waiting for a table or for a cup of coffee at Dunkin’; they don’t expect you to do the things that they all do.”
“I remember walking through BJ’s shopping for bulk items, which is like my therapy pushing a shopping cart around a supermarket, and I had a lady staring at me and she says: ‘What are you doing here?’… ‘I’m shopping!’… ‘Don’t you have people doing that for you?’… ‘Noooo, I donnnn’t have people doing thaaaat for meeee!’” (We broke out into laughter, but the mood was about to change.)
“People don’t want to hear this but the original sin of America is slavery that I don’t think we ever make up for.” (Mayor Kenney)
The conversation turned very serious as Mayor Kenney railed with indignation about slavery- clearly his feelings about equity are bound up in his views about this human tragedy:
“People don’t want to hear this but the original sin of America is slavery that I don’t think we ever make up for, and the issue of equity for me is that the black people who are experiencing discord, discomfort, poverty- it goes back to that and no one wants to hear it… If you had nuclear families that weren’t torn apart where the wife wasn’t sold and the kids weren’t sold, you would have had more continuity within those families.”
“If instead of fighting a civil war to end slavery they had agreed at the Constitutional Convention that in ten years slavery would be abolished, we wouldn’t have the poverty we have and the addiction we have; people would have been able to build their own wealth, as opposed to building someone else’s wealth- forced labor for free makes some people pretty wealthy… The President of the United States owned slaves; the man who wrote the greatest democratic document in the history of the world owned six hundred people- how do you balance that with “… all men are created equal…” when you own six hundred people?… To me that’s something that needs to be explained because I can’t figure it out!”
“I don’t know what you can do about slavery and segregation now, but in my opinion the biggest thing this country could do is to make public universities and colleges free for everybody.” (Mayor Kenney)
“I don’t know what you can do about slavery and segregation now, but in my opinion the biggest thing this country could do is to make public universities and colleges free for everybody.” (Mayor Kenney)
“And another thing I find on the equity side, especially with African Americans, is that they fought in every single war in this country’s history and they never gained any freedom or benefit from their contributions… The most patriotic people I see are African American WWII veterans who still dutifully wear their Marine Corp hats and Navy Hats- they fought in a war that potentially sacrificed their lives for this country and then came back to Jim Crow- really?… White people don’t want to acknowledge that it was wrong… I don’t know what you can do about slavery and segregation now, but in my opinion the biggest thing this country could do is to make public universities and colleges free for everybody- if all of our kids were able to go to college for free we would be the greatest nation in the world!”
Education for you is the ballgame:
“It is… They would have killed you down South for teaching a slave to read- why?… In Ireland the Hibernian Society was established to protect priests from being murdered by the British because the priests taught people to read- when you teach the peasant to read they now have the ability to say: ‘Wait a minute, I know what this is about!’… It allows people to come together to overthrow you!”… It is so clear that education for everyone is Mayor Kenney’s way to empower the powerless.
In terms of equity and wanting everyone to reach their potential, do you have the wind at your back?
“Not all the time; what frustrates me for example is when a group of extremely wealthy men use the court system, the airways and social media to eliminate critical programs from kids who, unless we have these programs, aren’t going to make it, and they don’t care; they live high at that’s fine and most of them have earned it, but why are you standing in the way of that child- because of a soda tax?… I had the CEO from Giant sitting here- they are opening ten supermarket stores here in the next two years- I said to him: ‘Did you consider the beverage tax?’ and he said: ‘It’s meaningless in terms of the bottom line and I’m not going to raise soda prices.’… That’s what reasonable people do, but then others say that their store closed because of the soda tax and then they open ten new stores in Philadelphia!… It’s bizarre to me!”
What about the public’s reaction to the beverage tax?
“The public gets torqued up by social media efforts- it’s almost like a Putin-Trump effort to make people angry about it… Here’s the bottom line with the soda tax: You don’t need to drink it- I choose to drink it and pay the tax- drink water, it’s better for you… And what’s disgusting is that for generations the soda companies have marketed in poor neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color- they slop people up with sugar and give them diabetes and obesity, and they say we’re not being fair to those communities!”
"I’m not a socialist necessarily or a communist, I don’t know what those words mean, but I don’t think anybody should have an unlimited amount money while people are lying on street corners- I don’t think that’s appropriate.” (Mayor Kenney)
When the book is written about the accomplishments of Jim Kenney’s career- what do you hope it will say?
“That he did his best and that he cared about people”
Did your best to deliver what to society?
"To deliver opportunities for people to do great things themselves- everybody is capable… Could you imagine if we were running on all cylinders from a human capital standpoint- it would be wonderful… I’m not a socialist necessarily or a communist, I don’t know what those words mean, but I don’t think anybody should have an unlimited amount money while people are lying on street corners- I don’t think that’s appropriate… If you look at some of the wealthy people in the country who are philanthropists, they are giving it away; if you look at the philanthropists in this city like Gerry Lenfest and Ray Perelman who just passed away, they gave a lot of their money away- you can’t spend all that money… Frank Rizzo, who I don’t quote very often, said: ‘I’ve never seen a Brink’s truck in a funeral procession,’ so you’re not taking it with you so what good is it?”
What keeps coming through Mr. Mayor is that you have a deep caring for people- it’s palpable:
“I look at people and try to see the good, but sometime they don’t let you see the good- they are so angry and so mean; that’s why kids are so much easier- that 3 or 4 year old in pre-K, I don’t care what color they are, they’re not spoiled yet; I’m a fan of Irish literature and of Oscar Wilde who said that everyone is born perfect and then they learn to speak!”
I write this on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019 at a time when 800,000 federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay and with countless other businesses being impacted, all for a political agenda. Nothing could be further from “Leadership from the Heart!”
On this day of service I think about the poverty and homelessness that mars the streets of Philadelphia and is mirrored across the country and the world. The tendency is to think about programs to help people experiencing poverty and homelessness. As valuable as these programs are, they are a bandage on a wound that has already been inflicted. While well-meaning, these efforts are part of the unending revolving door of poverty- the poor who die off are readily replaced. Every year on the first day of winter Homeless Memorial Day is held in Philadelphia and in major cities around the country, knowing full well that the list of those lost will probably be longer next year.
Mayor Kenney’s approach is systemic to eliminate the problem before it starts- give everyone an education! Start as early as possible to give children the power of knowledge and the confidence to build a life they will be proud of and that will contribute to society. And he wants every child to know that Philadelphia cares about them. After all, Philadelphia was named by William Penn from Greek words that translate to the “City of Brotherly Love.”
“Who is this man?” is best answered by listening to his words and seeing his deeds. What I have experienced over the past two years is a humble man whose very roots are founded in justice for all, not leaving anyone behind, and building human capital to the fullest extent possible.
The mayor watches as a pre-K student gets his high-5 for matching a number: Mr. Mayor, you feel this in your heart don’t you?
“I feel it in my heart every time I walk into one of these places.”
Reacting to this image he said:
“Look what’s in the picture: a child who is succeeding and happy to succeed; a woman who is a highly quality teacher who was probably not employed before the beverage tax- this is what we’re supposed to be about!”
Mr. Mayor, there’s something else in this picture- a mayor who is also succeeding:
“In all honesty, I have a hard time with self-appreciation- it’s the Irish in me- there’s always that maudlin: ‘Don’t celebrate too much because it could go wrong any minute and don’t pat yourself on the back too much because you might break your arm!’… If I didn’t have that personality I would probably be a little happier than I am… I don’t take enough bows about what we’re doing because honestly I’m just a part of the process- it’s the people who work here who do all the hard work.”
But you as mayor set the direction of the ship- isn't that what leaders do?
“The most important thing a leader can do is to allow other people to lead; I’m not the smartest person in any room and when you think you are the smartest, you’re not that smart because there are people who know a lot more than you do and you need to enable them to bring that out.”
The motto on the mayor’s office wall reads: “We Care About Everyone!”… It’s not physically there- but it’s plain to see!
One More Thing
The 99th mayor of Philadelphia meets with his Junior City Council. When he looks into their eyes, he sees more than the beautiful children they are. He sees the future of Philadelphia and of the United States… Children are at the heart of his leadership.
Published February 17, 2019
Published February 17, 2019