The City - County Connection: What is a Region?

Community & Civics

Event Details


Day 1 - September 9, 2022

The Delaware Valley is a metropolitan region on the East Coast of the United States that comprises and surrounds Philadelphia, the sixth most populous city in the nation as of 2020 and 67th largest city in the world. So what? What does it mean for us to work together as a region? Join leaders in economic development, business attraction, nightlife, and transit to better understand the opportunities to deepen our connections across city and county lines. 


Speaker Information
David Zellers headshot

David Zellers

Dave is responsible for leading Montgomery County’s wide-ranging economic & workforce development efforts. On a daily basis his responsibilities include building partnerships and cultivating a shared, inclusive, and proactive vision for economic & workforce development all while promoting Montgomery County as the place to live, work, learn, and invest. Dave’s professional experience includes projects focused on community revitalization, non-profit vision & mission development, regional strategic planning, economic development financing & incentives, economic & workforce development integration, and entrepreneurship.

Since his being hired as Montgomery County’s Director of Commerce in August 2017, Dave has sought to use the framework of economic development concepts and strategic thinking to build partnership across areas of public policy, county departments, partner organizations, and throughout the greater Philadelphia region. Dave was named one of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” emerging regional leaders in 2021. 

Emily Yates Headshot

Emily Yates

Emily is a strategic leader who has worked to position cities as globally competitive by utilizing a systems approach to develop strategies, projects and programs that innovate at the intersection of sustainability, technology, and economic development.

As Chief Innovation Officer for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), Emily leads the Office of Innovation (OOI), which focuses on driving innovation initiatives through internal and external partnerships and collaboration. In addition to growing a culture of innovation, OOI works to incorporate sustainability principles and data-driven decision making into all aspects of SEPTA’s efforts to become a lifestyle transit network.

Prior to this role as Smart City Director for the City of Philadelphia, Emily managed and led implementation of the SmartCityPHL Roadmap, leveraging public-private-plus (universities and utilities) partnerships to ensure that smart and emerging technology solutions to municipal challenges improved the quality of life for all residents, businesses, and visitors, and enabled efficient delivery of City services.

J'nelle Headshot

J’nelle E. Lawrence, MBA

J’nelle E. Lawrence, MBA, is the current Deputy Executive Director at the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia. Before joining the Economy League, J’nelle spent 15 years in the Procurement and Supplier Diversity industry with her roles as a Procurement Specialist at The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Global Supplier Diversity Manager at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Supplier Diversity Lead at The Chemours Company. J’nelle holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Villanova University and a Masters in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from Drexel University. J’nelle is very active in the local business community in Philadelphia and the state of Delaware, and currently sits on the Board of Directors at the Claymont Community Center. In December 2014, J’nelle was recognized as a recipient of Delaware Today’s “Women in Business Award” and in June 2016, J’nelle was recognized by DiversityPlus Magazine as a national recipient of their “Top 25 Women in Power Impacting Diversity.” 

Raheem Headshot

Raheem Manning

Raheem Manning, Philadelphia-based business development professional with years of experience spanning entrepreneurship, civic engagement, marketing, and advertising along with arts and culture advocacy roles is the City’s First Night Time Economy Director. Raheem serves with the Philadelphia Department of Commerce, Office of Business Development & Workforce Solutions effective July 11, 2022. In this newly created role, Manning will lead public engagement efforts to develop a strategic governance plan and advocate for policies that support the City’s attraction and retention of companies within its night-time economy. Raheem will convene ecosystem partnerships for the night-time economy that will make it easier to operate a successful business in Philadelphia while enhancing our city as a thriving, diverse destination for all. Previously, Manning served as the Co-Chair of the City’s Arts and Culture Task Force for two fiscal years.

As the Founder of The Weekender Experiences LLC, Raheem has been providing innovative leisure travel services, and curated events for black professionals in America. Raheem firmly believes that it is important for young black people to travel the world, find out who they are and where they see themselves most belonging. Since its founding in 2014, The Weekender Experiences LLC has successfully completed dozens of national and international trips, aiding in the $46.4 billion uptick of African American leisure travel from 2018 to 2019 alone and exposing over 3,000 Black Americans to the love of travel. Raheem visited over 200 cities around the world, and many are convening public and private stakeholders to establish a night time governance plan. Raheem is excited to contribute to these efforts in his native hometown of Philadelphia for our city to be a more welcoming and globally competitive hub for art, culture and nightlife.