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6 Powerhouse Women Who Are Changing Philadelphia for the Better

By Kristin Detterline | April 17, 2017 | People Feature

Armed with a social conscience and professional savvy, these six Philadelphia women are redefining success by taking others along for the ride.


18k white-gold with black rhodium drop, feather, with agate, sapphires, and 3.06 carat diamond earrings, Sutra Jewels ($10,650). Bernie Robbins Jewelers, 775 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, 610-971-2446. Large root cuff, Jennifer Fisher ($685). Barneys New York, 1811 Walnut St., 215-563-5333. 18k white-gold with 0.36 carat diamond bracelet ($6,000), 18k white-gold with 0.64 carat diamond bracelet ($6,185), and 18k white-gold with 1.05 carat diamond three-row dome bangle ($5,995), Penny Preville. Bernie Robbins Jewelers, see above. 18k white-gold with 0.95 carat diamond criss-cross ring, Hearts On Fire ($4,490). Bernie Robbins Jewelers, see above. Silk tank, L’Agence ($195), and jacket, Veronica Beard ($650). Intermix, 1718 Walnut St., 215-545-6034. Pleated miniskirt, Nicole Miller Artelier ($245). 4249 Main St., 215-930-0307; The Bellevue, 200 S. Broad St., 215-546-5007. Shoes, Christian Louboutin ($975). Saks Fifth Avenue, 2 Bala Plaza, Bala Cynwyd, 610-667-1550

Women’s rights are front and center in the news in 2017. But in the City of Brotherly Love, we’ve always known that the future is female. The six professionals featured in our annual Women of Influence edition have paved their own paths to power with a shared mission in mind: Give back on the road to the top. Here, from inside the historic Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia, we present Philly’s most of-the-moment female leaders.


Jennifer Rodriguez is on the move as president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

First job: “As a high-school student, I worked sampling products in supermarkets.”

Greatest accomplishment: “I am incredibly proud of the work I did as executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs under Mayor Michael Nutter. I see today how the policies, regulations, and programs which we implemented have prepared Philly to manage the uncertainty and fear surrounding new immigration laws under the Trump administration.”

Words to live by: “In God we trust; all others must show proof!”

Role models: “I am inspired by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Her story is one I can relate to: From a working-class family, finds herself in elite institutions, surrounded by highly accomplished individuals of a certain class and pedigree. She could have succumbed to self-doubt but did not.”

Hidden talent: “I can make my own clothes. As a young girl living in Puerto Rico, we did not have much money. I even sewed my prom dress!”

Day in the life: “The Chamber focuses on demographics and entrepreneurship for Latinos. This is the fastest-growing group in the nation, and we are two times more likely to start a business than the national average. There are 8,000 Latino-owned businesses in Philly and 18,000 in the region. That’s powerful.”

Overcoming challenges: “What I find is that Latinos are in many ways still a mystery, and largely unknown or misunderstood. My goal is to help debunk assumptions and misconceptions about our diverse community, because it is indeed very diverse.”

Me in three words: “WYSIWYG. Determined. Interested.”

Get social: @GPHCC



Sterling silver polished collar necklace, David Yurman ($1,950). Bernie Robbins Jewelers, 775 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, 610-971- 2446. Earrings, dress, bracelet, and rings, Zier’s own

For Nutrisystem’s president and CEO, Dawn Zier, the business of helping people get healthy is better than ever.

First job: “As a child, selling Girl Scout cookies! I prided myself on being the top seller.”

Greatest accomplishment: “Being the mom of two wonderful children, and raising them with the values, curiosity, and building blocks to succeed.”

What leadership means: “Someone who inspires others to achieve collective outcomes that one couldn’t achieve on their own. Whether through Nutrisystem, where we help men and women of all ages achieve healthier lives through safe, effective weight loss, or my volunteer work with Go Red for Women, I want to inspire people to live healthier, stronger, and longer lives.”

Role models: “I came from modest means, but my parents prioritized education and instilled in me, from an early age, that I could be anything that I wanted to be if I put my mind to it.”

Keys to success: “Under my tenure, Nutrisystem has experienced exponential growth. That’s all thanks to my team. The strategy and vision that the leadership team has set outlines the path forward, but it’s the exceptional company-wide execution that has, every single year, turned our goals into results.”

Why Philly is good for business: “There are more than 100 colleges within a 50-mile radius of Philly, including some of the most prestigious in the country. There is a palpable energy driven by this.”

What’s next: “We recently acquired the South Beach Diet brand, and earlier this year we launched it as a structured weightloss program. We’re offering more choices than ever.”

Me in three words: “Determined. Passionate. Thoughtful.”

Get social: @DawnZierNTRI



18k yellow-gold princess-collar necklace with fleur-de-lis diamond ($20,400), 18k yellow-gold bangle with fleur-de-lis diamond ($5,900), and 18k white-gold bangle with fleur-de-lis diamond ($5,900), Roberto Coin. Benari Jewelers, 3606 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, 610-355-1800; 299 Main St., Exton, 610-363-8450. 18k white-gold Encore diamond stud earrings, Tacori (price on request). Benari Jewelers, see above

NBC10 evening news anchor Jacqueline London gives us an off-camera peek at her life.

First job: “Lifeguard.”

Greatest accomplishment: “I won an Emmy for a special I wrote, produced, and hosted.”

Career inspirations: “I took an internship at a TV station in Chicago with the legend Bill Kurtis. After that, I was hooked.”

Typical day: “Coffee or kombucha and then Pilates or barre class. I arrive at the station for a 2 pm editorial meeting, read and rewrite scripts, and then anchor the 4 and 6 pm news. Then I’ll grab dinner, record news promos, read scripts for the late newscast, and anchor the 11 pm news. I have a final news meeting and then head home to enjoy the last half of The Tonight Show.”

Words to live by: “Cherish every stage of your life.”

Role models: “My mom has been my ultimate inspiration. I am proud to say I see her in everything I do, on and off the anchor desk.”

Philadelphia stories: “My most memorable interview was with Gaven Toney, a seventh grader from Chester County. He was born without arms or legs and idolized the Eagles. Despite his obstacles, he was still able to play on his school’s football team. We were able to get him VIP tickets to an Eagles game, and I was on the sidelines with the 12-year-old when he met his favorite players. The story ended up winning an Emmy, but the real joy was seeing his reaction on the field.”

Hidden talents: “I play the piano.”

Me in three words: “Happy. Patient. Grateful.”

Get social: @JacquelineLondon



Caviar diamond earrings, Lagos ($2,900). 1735 Walnut St., 215-567-0770. 18k yellow-gold Continuance Pendant diamond necklace, David Yurman ($5,500). Benari Jewelers, 3606 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, 610-355-1800; 299 Main St., Exton, 610-363-8450. Signature caviar square, signature caviar flower, and signature caviar hexagon bracelet ($300 each) and 18k infinity diamond ring ($995), Lagos. see above. Silk blouse ($190) and Louise trousers ($230), Hobbs London. Bloomingdale’s, King of Prussia Mall, 610-337-6300. Shoes, Christian Louboutin ($1,295). Neiman Marcus, King of Prussia Mall, 610-962-6200

ROAR for Good’s Yasmine Mustafa has emerged as one of Philly’s most outspoken social entrepreneurs.

First job: “Working at my family’s 7-Eleven store when I was 9 years old.”

Greatest accomplishment: “Putting myself through school and graduating college while working nights and weekends under the table as an undocumented worker.”

Words to live by: “Don’t ask for permission; ask for forgiveness.”

Hidden talents: “I used to play poker as a side hustle to make money during college. And I was good at it.”

Championing immigration: “I’m a refugee of the Persian Gulf War. I arrived in the US when I was 8 years old after being plucked out of a bomb shelter in Kuwait by two US ambassadors. I was lucky because I made it out of that situation and was able to live the American dream. Often I contemplate the birth lottery concept and how we don’t choose our starting point. That’s why I’m a social entrepreneur.”

On founding ROAR: “After I became a US citizen, I went on a six-month solo trek across South America in the summer of 2013. While there, I encountered many women who had been victims of assault, harassment, or abuse. One week later in Philly, a woman was brutally raped while feeding her parking meter. That’s when ROAR for Good, and eventually Athena, was born. Athena helps women stay connected to their loved ones and get help when they’re in trouble. For each purchase, we take 10 percent and invest in youth-education nonprofits.”

What’s next: “Uplifting refugee and immigrant communities is my thing right now. I just finished keynoting at the Idaho Refugee Conference. I may do another TED Talk on this topic.”

Me in three words: “Minimalist. Passionate. Resilient.”

Get social: @MYasmine



Mid-calf dress, Nicole Miller ($795). 4249 Main St., 215-930-0307; The Bellevue, 200 S. Broad St., 215-546-5007. Continuance hoop earrings in sterling silver ($450), blue topaz Albion bracelet with diamonds ($1,275), and blue topaz Cable Classics bracelet with diamonds ($1,990), David Yurman. Benari Jewelers, 3606 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, 610-355-1800; 299 Main St., Exton, 610-363-8450

Lindsey Scannapieco, the brains behind BOK, talks about women’s intuition and why millennials matter.

First job: “During high school, I worked at C’est La Vie bakery in New Hope.”

Greatest accomplishment: “Opening a bar in 30 days. It was wild! But seeing BOK evolve every day, with each new tenant, into its own small-business community feels like a growing accomplishment.”

Words to live by: “I believe in hard work, but I also believe strongly in fate. There is a word in Turkish, kismet, which basically means that things happen for a reason. Every setback, opportunity, and turn is a part of life’s bizarre destiny.”

Morning routine: “I listen to podcasts while I get dressed, with my rescue pup, Elwin, lounging nearby. I live within a few blocks of BOK, so it’s either a short walk or bike ride into the office. I love walking; it is my meditation.”

Guilty pleasure: “Karaoke. Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar is my favorite on Fridays.”

Women in the workplace: “We have a lot of female employees. Everyone talks about real estate as being about construction or financing, but it’s really about people. Are you creating an environment that people want to live, work, or play in? I think having women’s intuition helps.”

The millennial movement: “We are making things happen because we are curious, courageous, and probably a bit naïve. Being young and a bit fearless can also help make new things happen.”

What’s next: “BOK Bar will reopen around Memorial Day. We held a furniture design competition this year, so there will be some really wild, interesting new additions. We are also starting to book weddings.”

Me in three words: “Curious. Conscientious. Curly.”

Get social: @Bok_Bar



Sterling silver earrings ($2,800) and sterling silver 10-row flex with 0.63 carat diamond bracelet ($4,490). David Yurman. Bernie Robbins Jewelers, 775 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova, 610-971-2446. Sterling silver 10-row flex with 0.63 carat diamond bracelet ($4,490). Bernie Robbins Jewelers. see above. 18k gold pyramid bracelet, Lagos ($750). 1735 Walnut St., 215-567-0770. Shirt, Wadlington’s own

Author, stylist, and personal growth consultant Cheryl Ann Wadlington shares her inspiration for Evoluer House.

First job: “I was a cashier at KFC.”

On my nightstand: “The Bible.”

What empowerment means: “A process through which people envision and create what they really want in life and in their community.”

Greatest accomplishment: “Helping disadvantaged girls of color in Philly from ages 13 to 18 become college-bound and career-ready through Evoluer House. This breaks the cycle of high intergenerational poverty in Philly. These girls are often overlooked and frowned upon by society. They are suspended from school at disproportionate rates and become more susceptible to falling behind.”

Role models: “My late parents and brother remain my inspiration. They instilled in me the belief that I don’t have to be like everybody else—to be myself—which has served as my foundation. This helped launch my career in fashion as a journalist and image consultant and instilled in me values that charted my life and defined success for me. They also underscored my responsibility to help others.”

From Pennsylvania to Pennsylvania Avenue: “I was one of 10 women in the nation selected as a Champion of Change and invited to speak at the White House. It was a magical moment. It also allowed me to shine a global spotlight on the obstacles girls of color face in school and why our work is more vital than ever.”

Advice to young women: “If people are doubting how far you can go, go so far that you can’t hear them anymore.”

What’s next: “Workshops on STEM and the scholarship process. My book The DivaGirl’s Guide to Style and Self-Respect will be re-released.”

Me in three words: “Resilient. Humble. Leader.”

Get social: @IAmMissCheryl

Photography by: photography by PHIL KRAMER; Styling by Casey Trudeau
Hair by Daniel Citro Makeup by Susan Sorrell Hair and makeup provided by Richel D’Ambra Spa & Salon, located in The Ritz-Carlton For Jacqueline London: Makeup by Robin Lynette, iRobincredible For Cheryl Ann Wadlington: Makeup by Anthony Jones, Evoluer Image Consultants