BOARD OF DIRECTORS
ROBERT P. THOMAS, AIA, PRESIDENT
CO-FOUNDING BOARD MEMBER
Bob Thomas is a founding partner of Campbell Thomas & Co. Architects, a firm founded in 1976 and noted for historic preservation, energy conscious design, community development, greenways, accessible design and appropriate technology. Bob specializes in historic preservation, energy-conscious designs, community development and greenways. Bob is affiliated with several organizations in different capacities. Some include: Board Member, Philadelphia Historical Commission; Preservation Committee Member, American Institute of Architects (AIA); Past President, Bicycle Coalition of the Delaware Valley; Founding Steering Committee Member, Greenspace Alliance; Advisory Board Member, Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia; President of Philadelphia Chapter, Professional Services Management Association; Board Secretary, Schuylkill River Parks Alliance; and Former Chairman and Board Member of the Schuylkill River Greenway Association.
BOARD MEMBER SINCE 2013
A native of Philadelphia, Jim Burnett is the Executive Director of the West Philadelphia Financial Services Institution (WPFSI), a sixteen year old non-profit community lending institution located in West Philadelphia. He has worked in the financial services industry for over 25 years, beginning his career with Fidelity Bank 1988. As Executive Director for WPFSI, Jim led the development of the ParkWest Town Center; a 30 acre, 341,000 square foot, $55,000,000 retail center in West Philadelphia; the creation of the only non-profit mortgage brokerage company and the first youth Individual Development Account program in the state of Pennsylvania. In 2013 Jim developed a new program for seniors that will focus on saving their homes and maximizing the transfer of wealth to their heirs. He is a passionate orator and is asked to speak on issues surrounding community economic development. In addition to his professional focus, Jim has served diligently on various community and professional boards and is committed to the promotion of financial education, access to capital and sustainable lifestyles.
BOARD MEMBER SINCE 2012
Derek Freres has extensive experience working with park friends and community groups on large-scale public and privately funded capital projects, fundraising, and building membership bases including the Schuylkill River Park Community Garden, the Center City Residents' Association, the Friends of Schuylkill River Park, the Fitler Square Improvement Association, and Friends of Rittenhouse Square. Some projects he has worked on include the Schuylkill Pocket Veterans Memorial Field Renovation (2010), Schuylkill River Park Connector Bridge Construction (2012), Schuylkill River Park Courtyard Renovation (2012 - present), Fitler Square bench replacement, grounds renovation, and LED conversion (2013-2014), Friends of Rittenhouse Square’s award winning historic preservation, LED lighting, and security upgrades (2012 – present). Derek is a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, joined the Philadelphia Parks Alliance board in 2012 and has been actively involved in their advocacy and policy initiatives. He led the Parks Alliance through its transition period and was a member of the 2015 executive director search committee.
BOARD MEMBER SINCE 2013
Certified arborist Ken LeRoy brings over 30 years of horticultural experience to the Parks Alliance. He is currently employed by John B. Ward Tree Experts and has previously worked for a several tree and landscaping companies, the Morris Arboretum, and Temple University’s Ambler Campus. His specialties include the identification and conservation of historically significant trees, urban and suburban tree management, insect and disease diagnosis and treatment, integrated Pest Management (IPM) and plant species identification and recommendations. Ken is a member of a number of professional organizations including the International Society of Arboriculture, Morris Arboretum Public Education Committee, and Senior Member ofthe Southeast Pennsylvania IPM Research Group. In 2013, he began leading ParkTours for the Parks Alliance that draw attention to unique and notable trees in Philadelphia’s parks, recreation centers and playgrounds.
Board Member Since 2012
Walter has served on the Finley Recreation Center Advisory Council for 30 years and is currently its President. He led major fundraising efforts to build the center and fund programs for children, teenagers and seniors in the Finley Community. Walter, who is a Texas native, retired from the Philadelphia Prisons System in 2004 after 29 1/2 years of professional service in radio and television. His productions sought to education, entertain and inform. During his tenure he consulted with and provided video services for the Philadelphia District Attorney, Special Victims, Police Department, and Water Department. He also supplied original programming for Inmate orientation training videos and several pre-produced documentaries.
BOARD MEMBER SINCE 2016
For over 11 years, Maura McCarthy has steered the Friends of the Wissahickon, a 92 year old nonprofit, to great success as its Executive Director. In her time as Executive Director, Maura has launched multiple sustainability initiatives, lead numerous park and trail restoration projects, and completed the most comprehensive survey the Wissahickon has ever seen, “My Park Counts”. Before Friends of the Wissahickon, Maura worked as a development associate for the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR). Maura received a doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Oxford.