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As Founder and CEO of Preferred, Mr. O’Neill is the energetic leader of a privately held investment company. Through his visionary leadership, integrity, entrepreneurial spirit and instinct, Mr. O’Neill drives Preferred’s business growth as well as its culture.

Mike began his career with First Pennsylvania Bank in 1984 with a focus on lending to aggregate and mining process companies. In 1988, he formed O’Neill Properties with his brother Brian and in 1992 founded Preferred Real Estate Investments, one of the most respected and talented real estate companies on the East Coast.

Mike’s vision and his knack of creating opportunities proved rewarding upon his decision to exit the real estate market in 2005. This led him back to his roots, in the industrial minerals industry, when he began acquiring aggregate/industrial mineral companies in late 2006. In his current position, Mike plays in integral role in developing and sustaining business relationships with the premier companies in the marketplace.

Mr. O’Neill holds a bachelor’s degree from Villanova University in Finance and a J.D. from Temple University.

Mike is actively involved in local communities and government. Michael is the Chairman of Business Leadership Organized for Catholic Schools (also known as “BLOCS”), a non-profit organization supporting Catholic schools in the Philadelphia area. In addition to BLOCS, Mike is co-founder of the Philadelphia School Partnership and also sits on the board of the Mastery Charter Schools and is chairman of their High Tech High Foundation in Philadelphia. His philanthropic work includes charitable efforts in Chester, Pennsylvania, and securing a Ray & Joan Kroc grant to build a community center in north Philadelphia.

Since 1992 Helen Cunningham has been the Executive Director of the Samuel S. Fels Fund, a charitable foundation making grants in the fields of arts, education, and community in the city of Philadelphia.

Before coming to Fels, Cunningham was the founding director of the College Access Program of the Philadelphia Education Fund. In this capacity, she planned and implemented a program to increase the number of Philadelphia public high school graduates who go to and complete college. Prior to this, Cunningham served as Program Officer in Education with the Pew Charitable Trusts for nine years. Her previous posts include Assistant Director of the Fabric Workshop in Philadelphia and Acting Director of the Children’s Museum in Wilkes Barre. After college she worked as a public high school Spanish teacher.

Cunningham received an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania; a B.A. from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. and she attended the University of Madrid in Spain. Cunningham is also a trained Mediator.

John serves as the Assistant Office Managing Partner for the Philadelphia office, and as a senior tax partner in Grant Thornton’s Philadelphia tax practice. With over 34 years of industry experience, John led the transaction between LECG and Grant Thornton that resulted in over 300 professional joining Grant Thornton in March of 2011. Prior to joining Grant Thornton, John led LECG’s Governance, Assurance and Tax Sector, of over 170 professionals; an integrated practice including: audit, accounting outsourcing, SEC consulting, risk management consulting, compensation and benefits consulting, and federal, state and local, and international tax compliance and consulting. Prior to 2009, John led LECG’s tax practice, which grew from 30 to over 120 professionals, was recognized by Bowman’s as the fastest growing practice in the US in 2004, and gained the reputation of being the largest and highest-quality tax practice outside the Big Four in the Delaware Valley. Prior to joining LECG, John spent 21 years at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in charge of the middle market tax practice in Philadelphia, and then six years at Ernst & Young, as tax partner-in-charge of the Mid-Atlantic middle market tax practice.

John has over 34 years of experience, with a wide variety of clients in varied industries, including: technology, financial services, manufacturing and distribution, service companies, and real estate. His expertise in business problem solving and transactions has at its cornerstone a teaming approach, using his network of relationships with experts both inside and outside the firm to help his clients maximize value, and reduce risks. His personal client base is focused on ultra-high net worth individuals, and family business owners and their businesses. He is a specialist in flow-through taxation, estate, succession and transactions planning, and has been involved in numerous business transactions both for buyers, sellers and intra and inter-family transactions.

Hallee Adelman is committed to children and education. With a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Learning Technologies, Adelman has taught both elementary and Drexel University students. She has also trained and served as an online guide in the areas of professional development and student teaching.

In addition, Adelman has been an active board member for various organizations related to children and/or educational technologies such as Simon’s Fund (2006-2010); the International Society for Technology in Education’s SigTel group (2003-2006); and the Please Touch Museum (2008-2012). From 2008-2014, Adelman has chaired the Please Touch Museum’s Storybook Ball for families, helping to raise over $500,000 for the Museum’s early literacy programs. She has also hosted fundraisers for numerous children’s organizations including the AJS Foundation and the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. In addition, Adelman has volunteered time in the classrooms by participating in the Anti-Defamation League’s Read for Respect Program at Bache-Martin School in Philadelphia (2013), and teaching writing workshops for students at Conshohocken Elementary (2010-2014). Adelman is active in her own children’s schools.

Currently, Adelman is also developing www.doyouha.com, a children’s website grounded in peace building and character development. She writes children’s books and is represented by Jill Corcoran of the Jill Corcoran Literary Agency. Adelman’s main goals are for decisions about education to be about children and for children to have access to quality education in caring school communities.

Richard is currently serving as the managing director for non-profits for The ClearView Group. The group helps organizations with the strategic implementation of their goals.

Previously, he was the Executive Vice President of Aline, a business intelligence company that offered tools for organizing information for strategic decision making.

He co-founded buiLD, a non-profit that provided information and resources for parents of kids with learning differences and developed the Learning Greenhouse to help companies better educate their employees accomplish mission critical tasks.

Richard has a 20 year career working in schools, serving in a variety of capacities across grades K-12. He has excelled at growing young schools and programs. In the ’90s, Richard served as Assistant Head of Woodlynde school as it created its identity as an outstanding college preparatory school for students who struggled with learning. In the ’80s at Agnes Irwin School, he developed that school’s initial endeavors into both technology and community service. He started his career as a teacher/coach at Germantown Academy.

Richard holds a B.S. from Brown University in Mathematics, an M.S in Computer Science from Villanova University, and has done doctoral work at University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

During his more than 20 years in the public affairs and communications arena, Chris has played a significant role in many major public policy debates and political victories in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He has gained valuable experience and insight on how best to present public issues to persuade key opinion leaders – a skill that helps Bravo Group clients reach their objectives.

Among Bravo’s clients are: Hershey Company, Comcast, Cephalon, Jefferson Health System, Sunoco, Aetna, American Cancer Society, RRI Energy, Boeing, Honeywell and Cisco Systems. Chris has been dubbed “savvy” by the Harrisburg Patriot-News, included on the PoliticsPA.com list of “Pennsylvania’s Smartest Staffers and Operatives,” described as “not afraid to challenge ‘business as usual’ in the capital” by the Pennsylvania Report’s “Report 100” of the most influential Pennsylvanians in politics today and profiled in Harrisburg Magazine’s list of “Movers and Shapers.” He continues to advise and counsel numerous statewide and regional candidates for public office, and his opinion on public affairs and strategic communications often appears in media stories.

Chris also serves as the president of REACH Alliance and on the boards of Bravo Foundation, Harrisburg; the Technology Council of Central Pennsylvania; Jump Street, a private, nonprofit art council serving the Central Pennsylvania region; the Children’s Scholarship Foundation, Philadelphia; and the Philadelphia School Partnership.

Chris founded Bravo Group in 1999 after serving four successful years as Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge. Prior to joining the Ridge administration, he helped rebuild the Republican party in the early 1990s and lead the GOP to statewide election sweeps in 1993 and 1994 as executive director of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of American University.

As Director of Partnerships for The Salvation Army in Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware since 1999, the Reverend Bonnie Camarda is at the heart of The Salvation Army’s initiatives to form fruitful partnerships with area business leaders, government leaders, prospective donors, fellow social service organizations, and most importantly, individuals who look to her for spiritual guidance and hope.

Rev. Camarda has been a tireless advocate for the poor in her past position as President of the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia, an organization she has been involved in since 1989. Rev. Camarda also served as the Vice Chair of the Board of Esperanza USA, treasurer of the board for Mujeres de Esperanza National Women Ministry, The Philadelphia Leadership Foundation, and Hope for Philly. She has also served as the Administrative Pastor for the Living Word Community Church and as Executive Director of the Esperanza Health Center.

An active supporter of education, Rev. Camarda serves as Moderator for the Faith and Community Partnerships of the School Districts of Philadelphia. She has also been a pioneer in many ways. Born in Havana, Cuba, she grew up in Madrid, Spain, and graduated from the University of Madrid with a degree in Business Administration and a Baccalaureate in Administrative Science. She earned an MBA from Wharton in 1973, at a time when few women were admitted to MBA programs. She also received a Masters of Divinity from the Luther Rice Seminary in Jacksonville, Florida, a conservative institution where women were a small minority of students.

Win has been managing general partner of SCP Partners since he founded it in 1996, and has over 25 years experience in private equity investing. Previously, he had formed Churchill Investment Partners, Inc. in 1989 and CIP Capital, L.P., another venture capital fund, in 1990. Prior to that, he was a managing partner of a private investment firm that specialized in leveraged buyouts on behalf of Bessemer Securities Corporation.

From 1967 to 1983, he practiced law at the Philadelphia firm of Saul, Ewing, Remick & Saul and served as Chairman of its Banking and Financial Institutions Department, Chairman of the Finance Committee and a member of its Executive Committee.

He is a Director of Amkor Technology, Inc. (AMKR), Innovative Solutions & Support Inc. (ISSC), Cyalume Technologies Holdings (VTRQ), and he serves as Chairman of Biap Inc. He is also a director of several other private companies. From 1989 to 1993, he served as Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Pennsylvania Public School Employees’ Retirement System.

He is currently a trustee of Fordham University, Georgetown University, Immaculata University, American Friends of New College, Oxford, England, The Gesu School and Young Scholars Charter School. He was awarded a B.S. in Physics, summa cum laude, from Fordham University followed by a M.A. in Economics from Oxford University where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar, and a J.D. degree from Yale Law School.

John Anderson Fry was appointed Drexel University’s 14th president in 2010 and has served in higher education his entire professional life, first as a consultant and then as an executive. In addition to serving as president of Drexel University, Fry is president of the Drexel University College of Medicine and chairman and CEO of Drexel e-Learning, Inc., the University’s for-profit subsidiary marketing online Drexel degree programs. Prior to joining Drexel, he served as president of Franklin & Marshall College since 2002, and was instrumental in the college’s academic growth, campus and neighborhood development and improved finances. From 1995 to 2002, he served as executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania.

Fry serves on the boards of Lafayette College, The Shipley School, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Select Greater Philadelphia, the Schuylkill River Development Corporation and US Squash. A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Fry studied American civilization at Lafayette College and received the George Wharton Pepper Prize, the highest honor awarded to a graduating senior. In 1986, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from the New York University Stern School of Business.

John Griffin is a director at Credit Suisse, an international financial services company. He was previously a vice president and banker in the J.P. Morgan Private Bank, responsible for coordinating asset allocation, investment management, trust and estate, fiduciary and credit advice to clients. Prior to joining the Private Bank, John was president of Zeke Capital Advisors, LLC, a multi-family office located in Berwyn, PA, that provided investment advice to a small group of wealthy families with approximately $1 billion under advisement. Mr. Griffin began his investment career in 1986 in the Capital Markets Division of Paine Webber, Inc. in New York City as an underwriter and trader of corporate and municipal bonds. He later joined Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and subsequently Credit Suisse as a Director in the Private Client Division. He left Credit Suisse to start the Private Client Group at Chartwell Investment Partners in Berwyn, Pa.

John is very active in the Philadelphia area as an advisor and trustee to nonprofit organizations. He serves on the board of trustees of St. Joseph’s University, the board of visitors of the St. Joseph’s University Haub School of Business and Roman Catholic High School Board of Advisors. He was previously the Head Basketball Coach of Siena College and St. Joseph’s University. John graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. from St. Joseph’s University and an M.B.A. from Drexel University.

Robert J. Hall is chairman of the board of directors at Vera Bradley, where he has served as a director since 2007. Mr. Hall currently is the principal of Andesite Holdings, a private investment firm which he founded in 2007. Prior to founding Andesite Holdings, Mr. Hall served as an Executive Director for UBS Financial Services from 2000 to 2007. From 1995 to 2000, he served as a Senior Vice President for Paine Webber in Philadelphia. Mr. Hall serves as a director of Thomas Raymond & Co., a manufacturer of men’s handcrafted footwear, New World Stoneworks LLC, a retailer of stone products, and KodaBow Inc., a manufacturer and retailer of sporting goods. Mr. Hall also serves as the chairman of the board of the Mid-Atlantic region of Teach for America.

Mr. Maine joined Janney as Senior Vice President and Director of Equity Capital Markets in April of 2008, before taking over as Executive Vice President, Head of Capital Markets in October of the same year.

With over 25 years of industry experience, Mr. Maine is responsible for the firm’s capital markets business – which includes institutional sales and trading, equity research, fixed income, investment banking and municipal capital markets/public finance – as well as developing and executing the strategic plan for Capital Markets to enhance and expand this key business area. Mr. Maine joined Janney from Citigroup, where he served for 13 years as Managing Director and Head of Regional Sales, responsible for all equity sales outside of New York and Boston.

His experience also includes management and production roles in both retail and institutional sales with Alex, Brown, Natwest Markets and Smith Barney. Mr. Maine is a graduate of Princeton University.

Evie McNiff is the founder and board president of the Children’s Scholarship Fund Philadelphia. She also serves as a trustee on the Children’s Scholarship Fund National Board, the Philadelphia School Partnership board, Education Plus Academy Cyber Charter School board, CHILD (Churchill Institute on Leadership and Development) and is an advisor to the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal. Evie holds a B.A. from Yale University. She is married, has three children and lives outside of Philadelphia.

Stephanie Naidoff is a lawyer and civic activist. She practiced law for over 30 years, first with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services where she spent a decade as chief counsel for the mid-Atlantic states, then as General Counsel for Thomas Jefferson University for 15 years, and then with the law firm of Morgan, Lewis and Bockius.

In 1997 she was asked to take charge of a long delayed dream to create a performing arts center for Philadelphia. The Kimmel Center, a breathtaking design of famed architect Rafael Vinoly, opened in 2001 as the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra and seven other performing arts groups.

She then served as Philadelphia’s Director of Commerce (chief economic development officer) and City Representative for four years, during which time she worked on projects as diverse as the Cira Center and Comcast headquarters, the development of the Navy Yard, the expansion of the Penn campus eastward, and the move of the Barnes to the Parkway. She also worked on the mega-concert Live Eight and Philadelphia’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Now retired, Stephanie serves on the boards of Penn Medicine (the University of Pennsylvania’s health system), the Free Library, Curtis Institute of Music, and Play on Philly. In Aspen, where she also resides, she serves on the boards of the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Society of Fellows of the Aspen Institute, and Aspen Public Radio.

She is a proud graduate of Philadelphia’s public schools, Goucher College, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Natalye Paquin has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania since joining the organization in 2010. Prior to that, Paquin was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Kimmel Center, Inc., directing day-to-day operations across three venues – Kimmel Center, Academy of Music and Merriam Theater. She previously served as Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer of the School District of Philadelphia. She has also held positions with the City of Chicago and The Chicago Public Schools.

Paquin sits on the board of National Penn Bank and National Penn Bancshares. She currently serves on the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and is chair of the board of trustees of The Philadelphia Award. As an engaged civic leader, past board memberships have included, the School of Arts and Sciences Advisory Board of St. Joseph University, City Year, Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial, The Philadelphia Education Fund, Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia Boys’ Choir, Center City District, and Leadership Philadelphia. She received her J.D. degree from DePaul University, College of Law and a B.S. from Florida A&M University.

Nicole heads the investment management business for the mid-Atlantic Region of Goldman Sachs. Previously, she advised wealthy family groups and institutions in New York for 12 years before relocating to Philadelphia. Nicole joined Goldman Sachs in 1998 as a summer associate in Private Wealth Management in New York. She was named managing director in 2011. Prior to joining the firm, Nicole worked at J.P. Morgan providing strategic financial reporting and analysis to the Executive Office.

Nicole serves on the executive board of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the board of directors of the Kimmel Center and is a corporate member of the Economic Club of Washington, DC. She also serves on several other educational boards including the Legacy Youth Tennis and Education Center, and is a founding board member of Girls Prep Charter School in New York City. Nicole also serves on the alumni advisory board of the Robert Toigo Foundation.

Nicole earned an M.B.A from Columbia Business School and a B.S. in accounting from Hampton University.

Romona Riscoe Benson has more than 25 years of strategic leadership in the areas of programming, marketing, community affairs, museum management and tourism promotion. She leads PECO’s corporate and employee giving, sponsorships, volunteerism and sports facility management programs. Benson comes to PECO after serving as president and CEO of the African American Museum in Philadelphia, where she recently directed a $4.5million building renovation project and installation of a critically acclaimed exhibit on the early life of African Americans in Philadelphia, known as Audacious Freedom.

Benson is a nationally recognized speaker on multicultural subjects most notably in the areas of community empowerment, economic development, culture, tourism and hospitality. She served five years as the executive director of the Philadelphia Multicultural Affairs Congress and as senior director of Visitor Services and Community Relations with the New Jersey State Aquarium. She has served as a congressional delegate to the White House Conference on Tourism. She is also a past member of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, where she currently sits on its advisory board. Romona is an active leader in the Philadelphia region. She has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Philadelphia International Airport, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Center City District and formerly as a member of the Smithsonian Institution Affiliates advisory council. She currently serves on the Mayor’s Commission on Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy and co-chairs the Philadelphia City Council Task Force on Hospitality & Tourism.

Romona has been honored by many organizations in the city, including; The Philadelphia Business Journal, The Philadelphia Tribune, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association. She majored in Communications at the University of Pittsburgh, holds a B.A. in human service administration from Antioch University, and certificates in Museum Management from University of Colorado at Boulder and Historic Administration from the American Association of State and Local History. She is an avid jazz lover.

Ms. Yass is an avid education reform advocate both nationally and in the Philadelphia area. She is presently Vice Chair for the Center on Education Reform’s board of directors, a D.C.-based pioneer for sustainable changes that dramatically improve educational opportunities nationwide. She is also the founder of Boys’ Latin Charter School in West Philadelphia, and was the Vice Chair of the school’s board through 2010. During that year, Ms. Yass joined with other local business and philanthropic leaders to co-found the Philadelphia School Partnership. Both she and her husband, Jeff Yass, continue to be supporters of several outstanding charter organizations in Philadelphia.

Other local charitable affiliations include her work with the Franklin Institute, the Academy of Music and People’s Emergency Center. In the past, she was a board member at both the Save the Children Foundation in Westport, Conn. and Teach for America, mid-Atlantic Region. Ms. Yass holds a masters degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelors degree in economics from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa.

Since 2011, we’ve invested nearly $35 million to give 15,370 more students access to high-quality schools.

School Investments

Our goal is to raise $100 million by 2016 to invest in great schools of all types. To date, we’ve raised just over $65 million.


We invest in schools of all types. Our committed funds are currently invested in charter (55%), district (35%) and private (10%) schools.

By the Numbers

Our goal is to ensure 35,000 more students each year are on the path to college by 2017. We’re on track to meet this goal.