Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships Appoints First Executive Director

Cicely Peterson-Magnum

Drexel University has appointed Cicely Peterson-Mangum, a long-time community development leader, as the executive director for its Dana and David Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.

As the Dornsife Center’s first executive director, Peterson-Mangum will oversee the development of a facility that has catalyzed Drexel’s civic engagement with its surrounding community, encouraging innovative collaboration among students, faculty and local residents in Mantua and Powelton Village. Since its opening in June 2014, the Dornsife Center has offered space for educational and outreach activities developed and delivered by residents, partnering nonprofits and the University’s participating colleges and schools, with such offerings as computer education and access, a community lawyering clinic run by students in Drexel’s Kline School of Law, job training and adult education programs, arts collaborations and hands-on science programs. 

“We’re at a critical stage in the development of the Dornsife Center,” said Lucy Kerman, vice provost for University and Community Partnerships at Drexel. “We’re delighted that this growth will be guided by an executive director who brings strong on-the-ground experience working in communities in Philadelphia and a passion for making a difference.” 

Peterson-Mangum is well known as a leader in community development in Philadelphia.  She served as executive director of the Logan Community Development Corporation from July 2008 to July 2014 where she directed four key program areas: strategic community real estate development, commercial corridor revitalization, neighborhood planning and advocacy and community technology access. During her tenure, the Logan business district saw resurgence, with an average of seven new businesses each year. Peterson-Mangum created the signature fundraising event Logan in Full Bloom and established the Logan Parklet, a PACDC Blue Ribbon Award-winning placemaking project featuring a seasonal, street-side public recreational structure for community use.

“I am thrilled to join the Dornsife Center in strengthening Drexel’s deep connection to Mantua and Powelton Village, combining the University's body of knowledge and resources with the wisdom, historical perspective and assets of the community,” said Peterson-Mangum. “I am inspired by President Fry’s commitment to civic engagement and look forward to collaborating with University faculty, community partners and local organizations to implement Drexel’s unique urban extension model.”

Peterson-Mangum was also director of commercial corridor revitalization and the Avenue Project at Mt. Airy USA.  Most recently, she served as the interim CEO for Imhotep Institute Charter Higher School, where she provided leadership and administrative direction for the charter high school during a leadership transition. She successfully led the school’s charter renewal efforts.

Peterson-Mangum is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including the Councilwoman Cindy Bass 2014 Community Leader Award and the Greater Philadelphia Asian Social Services 2014 Community Service Award. She was named to the Philadelphia Tribune’s 2012 “10 under 40” list and to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2012 “40 under 40.”

Located on a 1.3-acre site at 35th and Spring Garden streets, the Dornsife Center was established with the help of a $10 million gift by Dana and David Dornsife. Drexel also worked with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation to obtain New Markets and Historic Tax Credits for the site's renovation. The University partnered with BLTA Architects to renovate the site’s three existing historic buildings that had been vacant for years and were formerly used to house the Archdiocese’s Archbishop Ryan School for the Deaf.