Last Monday, the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN) announced that Wendy-Anne Roberts-Johnson was named president and CEO, effective April 17, taking over the role held by John F. Clayton, Jr., who has served as interim CEO since October 2022.
Roberts-Johnson was hired after an extensive search by the PYN board of directors and the executive search firm, Bridge Partners. Roberts-Johnson currently serves as executive director of Need In Deed, which supports Philadelphia public school teachers to build civic engagement in their classrooms. In her time as executive director, Roberts-Johnson has provided strategic and operational oversight, led the organization out of a multi-year deficit, strengthened board operations and cultivated new and existing donor relationships among other successes.
As PYN president and CEO, Roberts-Johnson will report and work collaboratively with the chair of the board of directors in leading PYN to deliver on its long-term vision. She will work to ensure that PYN’s fiscal, operations, fundraising, marketing, human resources, technology and programmatic strategies are effectively implemented seamlessly across the organization.
“I am proud to join Philadelphia Youth Network. I believe passionately in the mission of this organization and in providing our young people opportunities to explore careers that would help them be contributing citizens,” Roberts-Johnson said. “I’m excited to get right to work on our signature program, the WorkReady initiative, and ensure all participants have a meaningful and valuable experience this summer. We have important work ahead including continuing to improve our operations and securing funding to provide more opportunities for young people through summer job placements. This is crucial, since we know early work experience produces myriad long-term benefits, such as boosting economic, academic, and health outcomes.”
Since its founding in 1999, PYN has provided more than 240,000 opportunities for young people in Philadelphia. Its WorkReady initiative, in cooperation and partnership with the City of Philadelphia Office of Children and Families and Philadelphia Works, distributed $8 million and provided employment for more than 7,500 youth last summer.
Despite rising program costs, local funding for youth employment programming has remained level and decreased in some areas. Federal funding from COVID-19 relief efforts is also waning. One of the top priorities Roberts-Johnson will be addressing is this funding gap, which is anticipated to impact the availability of youth employment through WorkReady this summer.
“We are thrilled to officially welcome Wendy-Anne as our new president and CEO,” said Debra Friedman, PYN board chair. We are impressed with her leadership experience in previous workforce development programs, as well as her experience in nonprofit management and in fundraising. In addition to her notable experience, it’s clear Wendy-Anne fully embraces PYN’s belief that it is our responsibility to prepare young people for thriving futures. We are immensely grateful to John for his time as interim CEO. His dedication helped bridge this leadership transition and make it as smooth as possible.”
“After leading PYN as interim CEO since last fall, I can say without a doubt that Wendy-Anne is perfectly suited for this role,” Clayton said. “Her experience heading up the Workforce Institute at Public Health Management Corporation and her time at Need in Deed working with our youth through community outreach and job placement programs have more than prepared her to come to PYN and hit the ground running.”
An experienced nonprofit leader with a strong record of success, Roberts-Johnson previously served as executive director of The Workforce Institute, as well as senior director of community-based services and out of school time operations manager, all at Public Health Management Corporation.
Roberts-Johnson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from Temple University. She currently resides in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia with her family.
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