PGDG 2018

Defining Our Impact

Five Years In  |  75+ Women Strong  |  Impact Reaching Thousands

Last Wednesday evening, Philly Girls Do Good welcomed its 5th new member cohort in suitable style. In a place-making “practice what you preach” moment, Danielle and Sylvia converted an unfinished space at 990 Spring Garden with twinkle lights, lime green porch chairs, a rainbow of confetti dots, and bright paper lanterns. The space, provided by new PGDG member, Kelly Edwards, who manages community relations at Arts + Crafts Holdings, was the perfect spot to host a pop-up-party with 30 of Philly’s most spirited civic-minded women.

This year, PGDG kicked off an effort to define the collective impact of a network that’s now more than 75 women strong. After a (literal) warm-up round of introductions (including jumping jacks), new and returning PGDG members gathered to map out their positive imprint on Philadelphia.

Here’s a snapshot of the top responses to the informal, wine-glass-in-hand, real-time polling:

How do you make your greatest impact?
24%: I’m a connector.
21%: I work to improve neighborhoods.
12%: I advocate for the underserved.

Drop a pin to show where you live. Also, locate the geographic centerpoint of the communities you serve:

Annually, how many people does your organization directly engage?
17%: Up to 500 (Lucky Ducks).
39%: Up to 2,000 —and I know everyone’s name!
17%: Untold thousands throughout Philadelphia.
17%: My good knows no bounds!

If you could connect with anyone to promote your organizations’ interest, who would it be?
Michelle Obama
Eleanor Sharpe (consider it done, she’s one of us!)
Anne Pappageorge (ditto!)
Women who want to run for office
… and many more people.

We know from research that women succeed as relationship builders, and it’s clear from this quick sketch of around half the current PGDGers that building personal connections and using them to support Philadelphia communities is at the core of this network’s collective impact.

While the polling provided a glimpse into the activity of those gathered on Wednesday night, PGDG will make a concerted effort this year to define the impact of the entire membership of Philly Girls Do Good in order to demonstrate and communicate that impact outside PGDG, to leverage it toward even greater good. Another goal is to identify gaps in the network, geographic holes, or missing areas of professional expertise. The findings will enable PGDG to grow its future membership with an eye to closing those gaps to reach broad and diverse representation of Philly’s women leaders in design, arts, and community development.                                                

On Wednesday night, the power of the network was already evident in the room. “Now you’re someone I want to talk with!” Jen Mahar, Senior Director of Civic Initiatives, Fairmount Park Conservancy said to Fern Gookin, PGDG ’15 and Director of Sustainability at Revolution Recovery. Jen is starting to work on a challenge the City faces: how to make use of beautiful Ash trees felled by the Emerald Ash borer, an invasive beetle. Fern, who is also the co-founder of RAIR (Recycle Artists in Residency) specializes in connecting artists to unwanted materials—a perfect match for finding a sustainable use for the Ash trees.

Jill Fink, new PGDG member and Executive Director of Food Moxie, a nonprofit organization that promotes nutrition and healthy eating habits in Philadelphia, is excited to expand her network of professional women outside of the people she meets in her non-profit world. As a women studies major in college, she has always sought the company of smart women—but she’s particularly animated about joining this group. “PGDG is part of a groundswell of women stepping into their power. It’s exciting to be a part of that.”

Throughout the coming year, the members of PGDG Cohort 2018 will focus on the power of building relationships in a series of organized small-group conversations. At the same time, the full PGDG network will begin defining its impact—and use that information to grow.