Workforce Development in the Life Sciences: Building Skills, Diversity, and Education in Philadelphia and Beyond

Business & Entrepreneurship

Event Details


Day 1 - September 9, 2022

Philadelphia is home to an enormous life science sector: over 2,000 medical technology companies are in Philadelphia, 80% of all pharmaceutical companies and biotech companies in the United States have offices in Greater Philadelphia, and there are over 100 colleges and universities within 50 miles of the city. It is ever more important to ensure that the city has a diverse and capable workforce to meet the needs of the region. Join the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia as they explore the importance of workforce development so that workers are prepared to address tomorrow’s challenges, particularly in life sciences—a growing sector in the Philadelphia region and an important one for our country and the world.

Speaker Information
Phil Brooks Headshot

Phil Brooks

Phil Brooks is a native of West Philadelphia and attended Girard College High School. He then attended American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts where he received his B.S. in Biology. Returning to Philadelphia he joined the education-based Americorps program, City Year Philadelphia where he served as a Senior Program Manager and led over 200 18-24 year old young adults in full time volunteer service. After a 10-year commitment to City Year, he joined the Mayor’s Office of Education as the US2020 Program Manager of STEM Initiatives. Later, his work transitioned to the Commerce Department's Talent Development Unit and finally to the Office of Workforce Development where he oversaw the City of Philadelphia's citywide STEM Initiative that engaged, connected and convened citizens in the region. He is now the Director of STEM Workforce Partnerships for the University City Science Center and is tasked with connecting and building partnerships with STEM employers to ensure job placement of Greater Philadelphia residents. 

In collaboration with several partners, Phil successfully oversaw the planning, logistics and implementation of the Building an Understanding of Lab Basics (BULB) workforce development program designed to reskill, educate and connect Greater Philadelphia adult learners to Life Science industry in preparation for employment in these fields. 

Lauren Swartz Headshot

Lauren Swartz

Lauren leads the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia as President and CEO.  The organization provides strategic, non-partisan speaker programs, youth education, leadership training, and unique travel opportunities worldwide. The organization hosts heads of state, private sector leaders, international experts, Nobel Prize winners and more to advance their motto: “Democracy Demands Discourse.”  They provide globally-minded youth education programs to nearly 3,000 students annually, including model UN programs. Lauren leads all aspects of the organization. 

Previously, she was Deputy Commerce Director of International Business & Global Strategy for the City of Philadelphia. With a focus on global business attraction, foreign direct investment, and promoting exports, her work created hundreds of jobs and strengthened the local economy.  She crafted the global strategy for Philadelphia and hosted delegations, diplomats, business and investors from abroad, and represented the City of Philadelphia worldwide.  

Lauren has also served as the Deputy Director at the trade association, Food Export USA – Northeast, working to promote U.S. exports in over 40 countries around the world, producing over $500 million in export sales annually.  Lauren has experience running her own consulting firm specializing in international project management and food marketing. She has lived and worked abroad in Copenhagen and London. 

Tia Lyles-Williams Headshot

Dr. Tia Lyles-Williams

Tia Lyles-Williams, D.Sc. is a Two-Time Life Science Start-Up Founder – Founder & CEO of LucasPye BIO, a Contract Development Manufacturing Organization (CDMO); and Founder & CEO of HelaPlex, the 1st Commercial Life Science Accelerator for Seed-Level Life Science Start-Ups and Virtual Biotechnology Companies. In fact, LucasPye BIO is a strategic partner of Thomas Jefferson University’s Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing (JIB).

Dr. Lyles-Williams is the 1st African American Queer Woman to own and lead a biopharmaceutical manufacturing company – 68 years after the 1st African American Man, Dr. Percy Lavon Julian with his company, Julian Laboratories, Inc. in Chicago, IL. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Howard University, Master of Science in Entertainment Business from Full Sail University, and a Master of Science in Regulatory Science from University Southern California. On May 12, 2022, Dr. Lyles-Williams was conferred as an Honorary Doctorate in The Sciences from the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA.