Young Alums Shaping Philadelphia's Future

In their “Who’s Next” series, Philadelphia news platform Billy Penn highlights up-and-comers in various fields. Among them are Swarthmore alumni who are helping to shape the future of Philadelphia through their engagement in politics, education, labor, and the arts.

Patrick Christmas '08Patrick Christmas ’08 makes the list of young people shaping the Philadelphia political scene. Christmas is a policy program manager at Committee of Seventy, a nonpartisan better government and politics advocate. In addition, he serves on the boards of PhillyCORE Leaders, a group of education leaders from across the region, and SEAMAAC, whose mission is to support immigrants and refugees. While at Swarthmore, Christmas majored in biology with a minor in educational studies.


Lillian Dunn '07Lillian Dunn ’07 is recognized among some of the most dynamic people under 40 shaping the city’s robust arts scene. Dunn co-founded APIARY Magazine in 2009 to feature diverse voices from the Philadelphia writers. She also runs SPACES Artist in Residence Program at The Village of Arts and Humanities, which matches artists from around the U.S. with leaders and makers in North Central Philadelphia to respond to community-identified needs and opportunities through art. While at Swarthmore, Dunn majored in English literature with a minor in history.


Gwen Snyder '08Executive Director of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice (JwJ) Gwen Snyder ’08 is recognized among other young union leaders and workers advocates. JwJ is a coalition of labor unions and student, community, and faith groups who fight for the rights of working people and has worked as part of the National Jobs with Justice network to fight for immigrants’ rights, single-payer healthcare, and workers’ rights to organize. In addition to leading JwJ, Snyder also serves as a committeewoman in the city's 27th Ward. Snyder graduated from Swarthmore with honors in religion and sociology and anthropology. (Photo via Temple University High School News.)


Dan Symonds '11Dan Symonds ’11 made the list of young teachers and educators shaping education in Philadelphia in his first year of teaching in North Philadelphia due to his record of defending public education. He has addressed education students at St. Joseph’s University, testified before the School Reform Commission about school funding, and colleagues say his combination of humility and inspiration is effective in working with students. At Swarthmore, Symonds was a Philip Evans Scholar and founded Chester Noise, a music production program at WSRN that worked with Chester, Pa., high school youth, in collaboration with the Chester Police Activities League. He graduated with a special major in sociology and anthropology and educational studies and a minor in history.