These four CEOS were present at the PHL-DIVERSECity Career Fair 2019 for a special meet and greet with select attendees.
These four CEOS were present at the PHL-DIVERSECity Career Fair 2019 for a special meet and greet with select attendees.

Enlightened CEOs for PHL as a brand new DIVERSECity

They were kind enough to step down from their C-Suite pedestals to shake hands of the emerging professionals on the floor of the recent PHL-DIVERSECity…


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It makes a huge difference when the CEO troubles himself to show up in person.

Four of them did it during the PHL-DIVERSE AL DÍA Career Fair 2019, hosted by AL DÍA News Media this past April the 25 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, for the eighteenth consecutive year.

They were what I called enlightened CEOs— cool enough to step down from their C-Suite pedestal to shake hands of the ordinary people; humble and generous enough to impart that magic touch only the top executive can give a young professional looking to start his or her career; wise enough to know this is the best way to brand their company, one person at a time, with the natural charm of their own personality.

AL DÍA invited a total of 14 CEOs to attend this “speed networking” with a selected group of recent college graduates and mid-career professionals looking to establish themselves in Philadelphia.

Four of these top executives graciously responded to the call.

You should know now those 4 chief executives who chose to spend 60 minutes of their busy time with the very diverse workforce that is interested in staying in our city, form a family here, and grow and prosper with our city.

  • Ajay Raju, CEO of Dilworth Paxson
  • Jeffrey Knuppel, CEO of SEPTA.
  • Larry Kaiser, CEO of Temple Health System
  • John McNichol, CEO of the Pennsylvania Convention Center


For that to happen —for those professionals to stay in Philadelphia after they graduate, and contribute to bolster the ranks of home-grown, diverse and competent talents Philadelphia's economy is in so urgent need of retaining and attracting— a change of attitude from the C-Suite has to happen.

It was a Brookings Institution expert, Mr. Marek Gootman, who gave us the obvious recommendation:

"Business leaders need to step up (...) It is the job of the CEO."

That was the exact quote published in the Philadelphia Business Journal when the expert was invited to Philadelphia to discuss how our city can build on its recent glimmer of hope of its recent repopulation rebound.

As we said in our Annual Edition on the PHL-DIVERSECity ALDÍACareer Fair, it could go either way— up or down. Down to the pit again, or up, again, after 100 years, even if it is because we hit the very bottom rock towards the end of the Twentieth Century and couldn't go further down in population loss, reduction of our tax-base, and increase of general cynicism about our future.

How fast is that final and complete recovery is going to take? That may be the obvious question.

We cannot afford to sleep on our laurels, particularly when other cities armed with more resolution, aggressive and visionary leadership are pushing full steam ahead of us, threatening Philadelphia for the temporary spot of being the sixth largest city in the country.

Well, despite our demographic rebound, and the crop of new skyscrapers going up, we need to wake up to the fact that Philadelphia can be pushed to be number 9 city in the nation, after the upcoming Census 2020, and even number 12 by 2040, according to not-so-well-publicized predictions from the credible National Conference of Mayors.

Philadelphia as a city can’t shrink in the context of the national and global economy while the corporations based in it pursue the illusion of growth inside the beautiful crystal towers now decorating our skyline.

Universities, on the other hand—some of them among the most prestigious in the nation—can not continue educating talent by the thousands each year and sending it back to other states, or those foreign nations of origin many of them come from, while the city flounders in poverty as a direct result of lack of access, or motivation to access, higher education among thousands of the youngest residents of the most diverse ethnic backgrounds living in the proximity of our prestigious campuses and global centers of knowledge we are privilege to have in our own backyard.

Philadelphia, that "Holy Experiment" imagined by William Penn when he founded it in 1682, is blessed in this 2019 year of the Lord with the raw materials, and all the pieces of the puzzle needed to piece this once prosperous urban center back together, and propel our promising city’s economy faster forward in the global space, making it again, over the next 25 years, a shining star on the U.S. Eastern seaboard.


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