Board Members

Samantha Apgar

Secretary

Samantha Apgar currently works as the Assistant Director of Temple’s Master of Public Policy program. Her responsibilities include recruitment, academic advising, internship placements, event planning, and supporting the Program Director. Samantha holds a Master in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, where she received the Institutional Service Award, was a Program Evaluation Fellow with ImpactED and served as the Finance Chair for Women of Fels. She completed her graduate capstone project for the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM), comparing OPM’s approach to assessing quality in federal employee health benefits plans with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid’s methodology for assessing the quality of Medicare Advantage health plans. She has also received a Certificate in Executive Leadership from Bryn Mawr College’s Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute.

Samantha is a current board member of the League of Women Voters of Philadelphia and the University Community Collaborative. She is an active volunteer with Planned Parenthood Southeastern PA and the Women’s Medical Fund. Before joining Temple, Samantha served as the Managing Director for Project 440, a nonprofit organization that provides leadership, college readiness, and life skills training to creative youth in Philadelphia. She completed her undergraduate studies in 2010 at Westminster Choir College, receiving a BA in Music with minors in Musical Theater and American Studies.

Patrick Christmas

Vice Chair

Patrick taught biology and forensic science at Fels High School in Northeast Philadelphia after graduating from Swarthmore College in 2008. After five years in the classroom and having begun studies at the Fels Institute of Government, he joined the Committee of Seventy in August 2013 – in part, because he believes in Seventy’s nonpartisan mission to advance better government, but also because he was seeking the “Fels Trifecta.” (Samuel S. Fels was on Seventy’s original 1904 Executive Board.)

Patrick is responsible for managing Seventy’s policy analysis and advocacy campaigns, in addition to supporting its civic programming, communications and social media. Since 2014, he’s overseen the evolution of the organization’s signature Election Program to include the Election Ambassador Corps for high school students, a city-focused Voter Experience Survey and a comprehensive online Voter Guide. His current duties include staffing the Better Philadelphia Elections Coalition, Open Primaries PA  and Philadelphia Resolution 1, among other city and state-level advocacy projects.

Shannon Connell-Robichaud

Communications Chair

Shannon moves to Philadelphia shortly after graduating from Chestnut Hill College in 2011 with.BA in political science. While she attended Chestnut Hill she was an intern for former Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz and the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition.

After graduating Shannon worked as a paralegal in the office of Children and Youth in Montgomery County. She currently works at White and Williams and is attending Temple University and is expected to graduate with a Masters in Public Policy in the Fall of 2020. While at Temple, Shannon served as a Research Assistant for the Alliance of Philadelphia Public Schools. Shannon maintains an interest in child welfare and immigration policy.



Lauren Cristella

President

It was Lauren’s passion for active citizenship, strong public leadership and practical policy-making that led her to Broad Street and the organization that shares her dedication. As the Chief Advancement Officer of the Committee of Seventy, Lauren is responsible for board development, external affairs, youth civic engagement, the election program, the Buchholz Fellowship Program, and events.

Prior to joining C70, Lauren was the Director of Student Affairs & Strategic Operations at Penn’s Fels Institute of Government. She spent seven years ensuring that students had excellent internships and job prospects in government, nonprofits, and private firms that serve the public interest. She also secured a number of record-breaking gifts to Fels, in addition to overseeing dozens of events each year and general operations.

Before joining Fels, Lauren spent five fun years at the National Constitution Center. During her tenure there, Lauren worked in the education department, where she first began to wish that people would celebrate Constitution Day (September 17th) without being legally obligated to do so. She later joined the Center’s senior management team as the Director of Special Projects for the CEO. In that position, Lauren led the team that created the Center’s blog, Constitution Daily, and facilitated the creation and adoption of a new five- year strategic plan. Lauren was also a member of the Center’s international team, which was responsible for the creation of the Being We the People exhibition and website, as well as a guide to voting in national elections for Afghan citizens, created in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme.

Lauren received her bachelor’s degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where she majored in politics, and interned at the International Center for Terrorism Studies. She went on to receive her master’s degree from the University of Essex in Colchester, England in Ethics, Politics and Public Policy.

Lauren, her husband Doug, son Theo, foster child Penelope, and their dog, Utley, reside in South Philadelphia so they can easily feed their love of the Philly sports and good food.

Samantha Kelly

Membership Chair

Natalie Parker

Voter Services Chair

Natalie Parker is a passionate financial professional with a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from the University of Kansas. Natalie works in Budget Planning & Analysis at the University of Pennsylvania where she oversees a portfolio of more than $230 million. She previously held positions at the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Budget and Program Evaluation and the Office of Innovation and Technology. Natalie is a graduate of the Fund for American Studies’ International Affairs and Economics program and has held positions at the U.S. Department of State, the Kansas Legislature, the Center for American Progress, and for a gubernatorial campaign. 

Natalie has received multiple awards for her commitment to public service including being named as a Woman of Distinction by the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity and a recipient of the Institutional Service Award from the Fels Institute of Government.

In addition to her work with the League, Natalie is a consultant with Compass Pro Bono and serves on the Hemophilia Federation of America’s Advocacy Leadership Council, where she advocates for meaningful healthcare coverage for people living with bleeding disorders. Natalie maintains keen interests in economic development, criminal justice, honeybee conservation, and many more.

Kerry Sautner

Vice Chair

Dr. Kerry Sautner, Ed.D., is the chief learning officer at the National Constitution Center. In hercurrent role, she oversees all aspects of the public’s on-site experience and leads the Center’snational education efforts. Through various platforms, Sautner drives the development anddistribution of programs and online offerings that make the Center the nation’s leadingconstitutional education resource. Sautner also leads the development of interactive programsfor students, teachers, and the public; theatrical productions; educational videos; andstandards-based classroom materials available on-site and online.

Dr. Kerry Sautner, Ed.D., is the chief learning officer at the National Constitution Center. In her current role, she oversees all aspects of the public’s on-site experience and leads the Center’s national education efforts. Through various platforms, Sautner drives the development and distribution of programs and online offerings that make the Center the nation’s leading constitutional education resource. Sautner also leads the development of interactive programs for students, teachers, and the public; theatrical productions; educational videos; and standards-based classroom materials available on-site and online. Before joining the staff at the National Constitution Center in 2005, Kerry Sautner worked in programs, training and program development at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. She also served as an adjunct professor of education at Drexel University, where she focused on science teaching methods and learning theories for K-12 teachers.

Kerry Sautner obtained her doctorate in education leadership and management from Drexel University with a focus on creativity and innovation within educational facilities. Her dissertation focused on the examination of a program she developed for the National Constitution Center entitled, Policing in a More Perfect Union. This program uses storytelling and the museum’s exhibits to provide in-depth insights and social justice training for police recruits and in-service officers. She also holds a master’s degree in education from Drexel University and a bachelor’s degree in biology and marine science from Rutgers University.

Kerry Sautner is on the executive board of the Civics Renewal Network and National History Day Philadelphia. She is the vice-chair of the League of Women Voters Philadelphia, a board member of the Narberth Civic Association, a member of the American Association of Museums and the National Council for the Social Studies, and she serves on the Narberth Civil Service Commission. She has edited content for The New York Times, consulted on content for Scholastic, been quoted in Education Week as well as numerous regional media outlets, and her academic writings have appeared in the Journal of Museum Education. She is the 2011 recipient of the International Museum Theater Alliance Award. Kerry Sautner is an active and engaged citizen of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where she resides with her husband and two sons.

Ashley Session

Policy Commitee Co-Chair

Ashley N. Session is a native of Philadelphia, PA, where she’s spent the majority of her life living and working in different communities. Ashley is a graduate of the Philadelphia High School for Girls and earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from The Hampton University.

Ashley most recently served as the Campaign Coordinator for Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez, leading to her 4th term as the Councilwoman for Philadelphia’s 7th District. She also spearheaded the statewide political operation for U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), leading him to a 13-point margin victory in the 2018 midterm election. Prior to political campaigns, Ashley worked on Community School initiatives for the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Education, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships at the University of Pennsylvania, and for Philadelphia Freedom Schools under Communities in Schools Philadelphia.

A product of the Philadelphia Public School System, Ashley understands first-hand the need for real and positive influences in the lives of children and young adults alike. She is involved extensively in and around the City of Philadelphia and is committed to the education – both formal and political – of marginalized communities. She knows that by meeting the needs of the whole child and the neighborhoods in which they live, society can better support students and families in addressing non-academic barriers such as violence, hunger, or homelessness, which too often keep students and communities from thriving.

Lansie Sylvia

Board Member

Lansie Sylvia loves to leave things better than she found them. As a researcher and strategist for MoStrategy, she helps organizations understand their audiences, refine their brands, and communicate with clarity. She’s formerly held leadership positions at J2 Design, EHL Consulting, and the Philadelphia Film Society. Past clients include Rutgers University, Perkiomen School, Valley Youth House, Episcopal Community Services, the University of Pennsylvania, and YCEA. Lansie received her M.S. in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice and completed her AmeriCorps Year of Service in Providence, RI. Her volunteer work focuses on reproductive justice, equitable arts funding, voting rights, and the empowerment of women, girls, and non-binary individuals.

She would love to meet you. Follow her online @fancylansie and lansiesylvia.com.

Elizabeth Tinker

Policy Commitee Co-Chair

For more than 2 decades, Elizabeth Tinker has been creating exhibitions and performing audience evaluations by using creative, inclusive, and sometimes provocative approaches to projects. She began her career the Franklin Institute Science Museum as a exhibit developer and project manager for dozens of exciting exhibits like The Franklin Airshow and the Train Factory, and a globally distributed hands-on Nanotechnology kit. For the past 11 years, Ms. Tinker has been an independent consultant in museums for organizations like The Museum of the American Revolution, Eastern State Penitentiary, The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, and The National Constitution Center. From 2007-2017, she served as adjunct faculty in University of the Arts’ Museum Studies graduate program. Most recently , Elizabeth curated the traveling history and social justice exhibition, Waging Peace: 100 Years of Action which traveled throughout the country and is currently co-curating The 5 Senses:Brains, Books and You which opened in May, 2019 at the Philadelphia Free Library.

Cassie Tomkins

Board Member

Cassie is currently an Associate Director of Penn’s Office of Government and Community Affairs. Her responsibilities include implementing communication strategies, evaluating initiatives, and managing special projects. She previously worked at the Fels Institute of Government at Penn where she oversaw the Fels Lab, an initiative to connect non-profit organizations in need of program support with graduate students from Fels.

Before working at Penn, Cassie completed a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Chicago. She served as an After-School Specialist for Girls in the Game, a nonprofit providing holistic health programming for underserved girls. She managed after-school programming sites, coordinated volunteers and MSW interns, and worked directly with both school faculty and program participants. 

Cassie is passionate about equitable community growth and ensuring equal access to education, healthcare, and resources for children and families regardless of their zip codes. Cassie is a deacon at Arch Street Presbyterian Church and volunteers with Guadalupe Family Services in Camden. Cassie is an alumna of Saint Joseph’s University and has her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.  

Melissa Wright

Treasurer

Melissa Wright is a Project Manager for the School District of Philadelphia in the Superintendent’s office focused on building a System of Great Schools for all children close to where they live. She is passionate about quality public education and advocating for marginalized groups. Melissa served in many roles in the District including as an Associate in the District Performance Office and Data Analyst for their Pregnant and Parenting Student Program, ELECT. Before joining the School District, she worked at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s PolicyLab as a Study Coordinator investigating programs designed to promote minority faculty persistence in academic medicine. 

Melissa is a proud Fordham Ram, earning her Bachelors in Economics. She also holders a Master of Education from Penn’s Graduate School of Education in Education Policy and a Master of Public Administration from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. In her spare time, she is an avid reader, runner, and baker. She has one cat, named Cupcake, as an ode to her love of baking.