Community Leaders

Novella Williams was the legendary president of the grassroots organization Citizens for Progress. In the scattered-site Free School’s first year of operation, Williams and her conservative allies on the school’s community board opposed the annexes’ free-wheeling progressive orientation and their idealistic White teachers. Demanding a traditional academic curriculum grounded in fixed rules and regulations, Williams and her allies forced the removal of Aase Eriksen as Free School director and her replacement with Ola Taylor, a traditional administrator. 

The Community Advisory Board, formed in 1992, provides essential guidance and advice to the Netter Center for Community Partnerships.

Black and white portrait photograph of Anthony J. Drexel.

Anthony J. Drexel is significant in West Philadelphia’s history not only as the founder and namesake of Drexel University, but also as an expansive property owner, developer, and philanthropist.

The West Philadelphia Community Free School—an experimental school annex created to alleviate overcrowding at West Philadelphia High School—was ultimately undone by conflicting visions for how it would function.

Black and white portrait photograph of Sadie T.M. Alexander wearing glasses, print jacket, and blouse with large bow.

Sadie Alexander broke barriers of race and gender as the first African American woman to achieve many accomplishments, and she worked diligently to open opportunities for others to follow in her footsteps.