Donna Cooper, Executive Director
Donna Cooper is the Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the Greater Philadelphia region’s leading child advocacy organization that influences elected officials by combining useful research, practical solution-oriented policy recommendations with the mobilization of citizens who advance the organization’s work on behalf of children. Prior to PCCY, Cooper was a senior fellow at respected national think tank, the Center for American Progress, where she led the Center’s research on early childhood education, public infrastructure and was a contributing researcher to the Center’s work to reduce the incidence of poverty. Cooper served as the Secretary of Policy and Planning for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 2003–2010 where she was responsible for the state’s education, public supports, environmental and health care policy. While in that position, Cooper led the development of the state’s Cover All Kids program which expanded access to affordable health care to nearly every child in the state. Cooper also led the seven year effort to boost funding for public education that increased K-12 funding by over $2 billion and designed the state’s groundbreaking school funding formula which was enacted in 2008. In that position, she also helped launched the state’s model approach to investments in early childhood education and increased funding to make college affordable for low income and working class students while creating one of the nation’s best systems to ensure that community college students can easily transfer credits to four year colleges. Cooper was the founding Executive Director of Good Schools a grassroots organizing campaign that successfully pushed public education to the top issue in the 2002 race for Governor. Cooper also served as the City of Philadelphia’s Deputy Mayor of Policy and Planning from 1999–2002 where she designed and led the Greater Philadelphia Works Program, one of the nation’s largest and most successful efforts to help single mothers on welfare achieve self-sufficiency. Cooper has a Master’s degree in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Fels Center of Government, as well as a master’s degree in Intercultural Management from the School for International Training. To reach Donna by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 30.
Judy Adamson, Financial Consultant
Judy Adamson joined PCCY in 2014, bringing over 40 years of financial and non-profit administrative management experience to the organization. Judy has an impressive track record of developing and guiding financial systems for organizations experiencing growth or contraction, especially in times of leadership transition. She also assists PCCY with development management and modernizing administrative systems. Judy works as a financial consultant with a range of non-profit organizations, including Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Women’s Medical Fund, Community Education Center and Research for Action where she was the Managing Director/CFO for 22 years.
Tim Gibbon, Picasso Project Director
Tim’s work as Picasso Project Director is rooted in a commitment to providing and advocating for arts education for Philadelphia’s children and youth. Prior to joining PCCY, Tim has worked as Program Coordinator for Congreso de Latinos Unidos’s afterschool and summer programs in North Philadelphia. He has also worked with several socially-engaged arts and education projects, as reForm Project Director with Temple Contemporary, Bilingual Project Coordinator for Philadelphia Mural Arts, and Community Organizer for Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. Additionally, Tim has experience as a Teaching Artist in a wide variety of school and community settings. Tim holds a masters degree in Art Education with Certificate in Community Arts Practices from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. You can reach Tim at 215-563-5848 ext. 22.
Steven Fynes, Administrative Director
Steven’s work focuses on maintaining PCCY’s information technology – including database administration, network and workstation updates – assisting program directors on special projects and the design and layout for PCCY’s research and reports. Steven is also the primary coordinator for PCCY’s major events including rallies in Harrisburg and Philadelphia and the annual “Celebration of the Public Citizen for Children and Youth.” Prior to joining PCCY in 1995, Steven worked as an Administrative Director for Friends of Philadelphia Parks. To reach Steven by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 11.
Shirlee Howe, Education Coordinator for Montgomery and Delaware Counties
Shirlee’s focus is to engage stakeholders in suburban counties to join the conversation of equitably funding area schools and encourage the expansion of high quality pre-k. Prior to joining PCCY in 2015, Shirlee managed the Child and Adult Care Food Program, serving family and group day care home providers throughout the Philadelphia region. She began her career in early childhood education with CCIS-North. Her work there included enrolling subsidy eligible children in the Child Care Matters initiative. She holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. To reach Shirlee by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 34.
Jin David Kim, Communications Director
Jin David Kim has joined PCCY to oversee all communications activities for the organization. David is a Toronto-born writer and filmmaker and has worked internationally for major media groups such as the Globe and Mail, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, International Herald Tribune, and the National Film Board. He has worked in politics and government as well, serving as communications director and political advisor in five election campaigns in Canada where he served as an advisor to Ontario’s Minister of Education and Minister of Culture. In 2008, David moved to Philadelphia and was Media Director for a marketing agency in Old City before being named Director of Communications for the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual disAbility Services, the City’s largest agency. He lives in East Falls with his son. To reach David by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 23.
David Loeb, Policy Research
David’s focus is research on issues and policies affecting the region’s children. He returned to PCCY in 2016 after serving here as an AmeriCorps VISTA a year prior. During that time he worked on the Read by 4th campaign, a project he continued at the Free Library of Philadelphia until his return. David graduated with a B.A. from Temple University in 2014. To reach David by phone, call 215-563-5848 x13
Colleen McCauley, Health Policy Director
Colleen’s research leads the conversation in southeastern Pennsylvania and Harrisburg on children’s access to health care and health insurance issues. Her work on child health focuses on researching and advocating for improved access to health care, particularly among uninsured, undocumented families in Philadelphia and suburbs. Prior to joining PCCY in 2001, Colleen was a nurse and former Assistant Director of the Abbottsford Community Health Center in Philadelphia. McCauley holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Temple University. To reach Colleen by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 33.
Neli Sepulveda, Early Childhood Education Policy Director
With over 20 years’ experience advocating for effective workforce and public education reform policies, Neli joins PCCY as the Early Childhood Education Policy Director. As such, she oversees PCCY’s infant and toddler policy initiative. She works closely with regional and statewide partners to lead a research and planning process that will expand access to high quality care for infants and toddler, particularly those from low-income families. Neli looks forward to and is excited about elevating the need for high quality infant/toddler care in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. To reach Neli by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 18.
Michelle Payne, Fellow, Child Welfare
Michelle comes to PCCY with a background in children’s law. She represented hundreds of children and youth in protective services cases while serving as an Assistant Defender in the Child Advocacy Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Most recently, her legal practice focused on safeguarding children’s rights, particularly in school settings, including advocacy for students needing special education, and students facing disciplinary school transfers. She has also served as a staff attorney with the Delaware Valley’s Crime Victims Law Project, representing victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in high-conflict family law cases. Michelle is also an adjunct professor of legal writing, and a volunteer instructor at Project ELECT in Delaware County. She received her B.A. from Bucknell University and her J.D. from Drexel University’s Kline School of Law, and is a current candidate for Masters of Public Administration at the University of Pennsylvania, Fels School of Government. To reach Michelle by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 35.
Bill Shoffler, Bucks County Coordinator, PreK for PA Campaign/Campaign for Fair Education Funding
After retiring from a long career in industry and finance Bill decided to work to improve education opportunities in Bucks County. Bill’s goal is to get funding for every Pennsylvania child to attend a quality Pre K program through the PreK for PA Campaign and to insure enough funding for Pennsylvania public schools to eliminate all performance and achievement gaps through the Campaign for Fair Education Funding. Before joining PCCY, Bill worked for Bucks County United Way and currently lives in Doylestown with his family. To reach Bill by phone, call 215-740-8480 or 215-563-5848 x27.
Tomea A. Sippio-Smith, K12 Policy Director
Tomea A. Sippio-Smith recently joined PCCY as K-12 Policy Director. Born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Miami, Florida, she has dedicated her career to service. As a newly licensed Florida attorney, she started a practice representing clients in civil matters. Subsequently, as an attorney for the state of Florida, she handled dependency proceedings for children who had been abused, abandoned or neglected. Most recently, she represented the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in fair hearings for service authorizations, eligibility and crisis determinations. Her work as a former substitute teacher, adjunct professor and legal intern for a School Board Attorney’s Office, fostered her commitment to equity in education. She holds a Master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida. Currently, she lives outside of Philadelphia with her two children. To reach Tomea by phone, call 215-563-5848 x36.
Gail Smith, Bookkeeper/Office Manager
For over 25 years of PCCY’s growth and development, Gail has been responsible for day-to-day operations ensuring human resources, payroll and accounting functions operate efficiently. Prior to joining PCCY, Gail worked with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia where she served in various administrative support capacities. She’s a graduate of West Catholic High School for Girls and is a native of Philadelphia. To reach Gail by phone, call 215-563-5848 x24.
Shawn Towey, Child Care Policy Coordinator
Shawn leads the local conversation on early learning issues by overseeing the multi-stakeholder Southeastern Pennsylvania Early Childhood Coalition (SEPECC). Towey works alongside advocates in Philadelphia and the suburbs to engage policymakers on ways to improve quality and access to early learning programs. Prior to joining PCCY in 2011, Shawn was the Executive Director of the Women’s Medical Fund. She holds a Masters degree in Geography and Urban Studies from Temple University. To reach Shawn by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 28.
ML Wernecke, Development Director
ML’s years of experience in development has enabled PCCY to expand its efforts to do research and advocacy in the suburbs. Prior to joining PCCY in 2013, Wernecke was Chief of Staff of Maryland’s Department of Human Resources and COO at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians where she helped diversify the funding base to support new ESL and vocational education programs. She also served under Governor Rendell in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Planning and was Policy Director in the Department of Public Welfare where she focused on improving access and quality of services. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Affairs/Urban and Regional Planning from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. To reach ML by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 20.
Deborah Zubow, Child Health Watch Coordinator
Z’s tireless efforts on behalf of thousands of families in the Delaware Valley, have obtained health insurance for children. Zubow focuses her talents on navigating the hurdles to obtaining care to assist families in accessing health insurance and health care. Prior to joining PCCY in 2004, Zubow was a Senior Policy Analyst with Solutions for Progress where she focused on public education finance and education reform. Deborah is a graduate of the State University of New York at Binghamton and holds a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the University of Pennsylvania. To reach Deborah by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 17.