ABOVE PHOTO: Michael A. Rashid (Photo/phila.gov)
Mayor Jim Kenney has announced that Michael A. Rashid, president of Michael A. Rashid Associates and former CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas, will become the City’s commerce director, effective November 30, 2020. Rashid will succeed Sylvie Gallier Howard, who has held the role of acting commerce director since March.
“Michael Rashid brings an unmatched combination of entrepreneurial passion, long-standing relationships, and a business savvy that will be crucial for Philadelphia as we confront the extraordinarily challenging economic climate facing our city,” Kenney said. “I’m confident that with his impressive background leading and growing multi-billion dollar companies — and with a commitment to our most vulnerable people — Philadelphia businesses will have a champion who knows what it will take for them to recover and thrive in the months and years ahead.”
Rashid comes to the City with decades of experience in the private sector — having dedicated his career to ensuring that those most in need have access to health care. While serving as CEO of Total Health Care in Baltimore, one of the nation’s first managed care plans, he helped pioneer the managed care industry.
He also held numerous leadership positions prior to becoming president and CEO of AmeriHealth Caritas, a national leader in Medicaid managed care and other healthcare solutions, in 2010.
Under Rashid’s leadership, the company doubled the size and scope of its full-risk Medicaid health business and expanded its employee base from 2,400 to approximately 4,000. From 2013 to 2015, he served on the Obama Administration’s National Council on Minority Health and Health Disparities.
“I’m humbled to become the City’s next commerce director, and I am excited to get to work on implementing fair, equitable and inclusive business development efforts that will help spread economic vitality and opportunity to all of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods,” Rashid said. “While the City’s Department of Commerce leads this important work, I also recognize the power of collaboration. It will take an enhanced focus on partnerships across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to bring about the kind of recovery our city—and its residents—deserve. I consider it the honor of my lifetime to advocate for our city’s entrepreneurs and small businesses, which are anchors for Philadelphia’s communities.”
Rashid holds a Master of Business Administration in finance from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science in marketing from the University of Southern California. A commitment to workforce development and economic opportunity for all drives his civic and board activities, including seats on the boards of Drexel University and Harrisburg University.
In February 2020, Mayor Kenney appointed Sylvie Gallier Howard as acting commerce director; she assumed the position in March after the departure of Harold T. Epps. Gallier Howard led the Department of Commerce through one of the toughest times for Philadelphia businesses in recent memory, including mandated business closures resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, plus periods of civil unrest.
Under her leadership, the department collaborated with various partners to support small businesses, including a $13.3 million Relief Fund for businesses impacted by COVID-19, a $1.6 million grant program for businesses affected by civil unrest, and the distribution of 10,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits to neighborhood businesses.
In 2017, she played a lead role in developing Philadelphia’s bid to Amazon for the HQ2 search and she recently spearheaded a $1 million Call For Ideas to support workforce development opportunities for vulnerable populations.
“I’m incredibly proud of the work of the talented, dedicated, hard-working commerce team, especially during these difficult last eight months. Without a doubt, my eight years in public service have been one of the most rewarding periods of my life,” Gallier Howard said. “I’m confident that under Mr. Rashid’s leadership, the team will remain committed to their mission of revitalizing our communities and supporting our businesses — especially small businesses — during Philadelphia’s economic recovery and beyond. I wish him the best of luck in his role as commerce director.”
“I want to thank Sylvie for her service to the people and businesses of Philadelphia, and especially want to recognize her unwavering leadership during these challenging times,” Kenney said. “She has been a crucial member of our administration since day one; her passion and commitment will be missed, and will certainly serve her well in her future pursuits.”
Gallier Howard plans to leave the City after a brief transition period to return to consulting on economic development policy, organizational strategy, and leadership development, working to support individuals and organizations who are revitalizing our communities — a passion she has long held.