Jeremy Nowak is one of America’s leading practitioners and thought leaders in urban development and civil society. He is the President of J Nowak and Associates, LLC, a consulting firm that provides strategic counsel to business, social sector institutions, and innovative governments committed to a disciplined approach to managing change in American cities. He is also the current Chair of the board of directors of The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a Research Scholar at Penn’s Institute for Urban Research.
Nowak was most recently the President of the William Penn Foundation (2011-2012), a $2 billion philanthropy. During his tenure, he designed and led a strategic planning process that will serve as the blueprint for the foundation’s grant making during the next decade through investments that close the achievement gap for low-income children; protect local watersheds; and extend creativity throughout Philadelphia’s diverse communities.
Prior to his position at William Penn, Nowak was the founding CEO of The Reinvestment Fund (TRF), one of the nation’s leading community development financial institutions (CDFI). Under his leadership TRF provided more than $1 billion in support of affordable housing, small businesses, and community facilities. He led TRF from 1986 until 2011.
Breakthrough innovations at TRF during his tenure include the Pennsylvania Fresh Food Financing Initiative, which provides high quality food markets to urban and rural areas; policymap.com, the most comprehensive source of spatially accessible data on the web; an energy investment program that catalyzed the wind energy industry in Pennsylvania; a proprietary Market Value Analysis (MVA) that guides investments for urban and regional policymakers; and a focus on creative place-making as a development strategy summarized in a monograph he authored entitled: Creativity and Neighborhood Development (TRF:2010).
In 2012 and again in 2013, Nowak was appointed to chair the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia by the Board of Governors in Washington D.C. He has served on that board since 2008. A decade earlier he served on the consumer advisory board of the Fed. He has also served on the board of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, the State’s leading provider of affordable housing finance.
Nowak is active in Philadelphia’s civic life, where he supports start-up social ventures. He was the founding board chair of Mastery Charter Schools (2001-2008), a network of eleven inner city schools that has garnered national attention for raising student achievement. He was the founding board chair of Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (2005-2011) a national charity that has raised $60 million for pediatric cancer research.
He has authored numerous articles and chapters in books on issues as diverse as development finance, creative place making, the role of religious institutions in community building, and housing policy. He has also testified in Congress in support of the Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund; in support of increased funding for the National Endowment of the Arts; and in support of healthy food and anti-obesity efforts.
He holds a B.A. degree in Philosophy from The Pennsylvania State University (1973) and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the New School for Social Research (1986), where his dissertation won the Alfred Schutz award for excellence. He also was a fellow at the Aspen Institute/New School Ventures inaugural program for entrepreneurial leaders in education (2007). He lectured at the Urban Studies program at the University of Pennsylvania between 1995 and 2005.