Connectors and Keepers

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Class of 2017


For the past ten years, LEADERSHIP Philadelphia has led a pioneering civic effort to identify Connectors – a term created by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point to describe trusted citizens who seem to know everyone and can be counted on to get things done, often under the radar. In 2006, over 4,800 citizens nominated Connectors. In 2008, we repeated the process to find the Emerging Connectors, and in 2011 we honored the Creative Connectors. This year we are recognizing, researching, and convening Philadelphia’s young Connectors.

According to a recent Pew study, “Since 2006, no city has experienced a larger increase in 20- to 34-year-olds than Philadelphia1.” We value the vibrancy, innovation, and energy that this young talent brings to our city. However, the Pew Study, as well as a recent Knight study, notes that while the number of young people in Philadelphia is unprecedented, they are at risk of leaving the city for lack of job opportunities and high quality public schools.

While we cannot create jobs or fix the School District, LEADERSHIP Philadelphia has a track record of retaining the region’s talent.  In order to keep young professionals here, we need to cultivate and connect them to create lasting ties. To that end, we asked citizens to help identify Philadelphia’s most promising and impactful young people – the “keepers.”

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The 2006 Original Connectors, The 2008 Emerging Connectors, and the 2011 Creative Connectors

1Millennials in Philadelphia: A Promising but Fragile Boom,
The Pew Charitable Trusts, January 2014