In Council News, Kenyatta Johnson, News by Khara Garcia

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Johnson also announces Senior Legislative Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Communications Director, Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives, Director of Neighborhood Preservation Initiative and Creative Services Director

Philadelphia, Pa. (January 11, 2024)—Philadelphia City Council President Kenyatta Johnson (Second District) announced the hiring today of John D. Christmas, Esq. to be his Chief of Staff overseeing the operation of the Council President’s office and Helen Loughead (pronounced law-head) to be City Council’s Chief Financial Officer. Previously, she served as Deputy Budget Director in former Mayor Jim Kenney’s Administration.

“I am thrilled that Mr. Christmas has agreed to take on this new role in Philadelphia City Council and that Ms. Loughead is bringing her vast knowledge and expertise into our organization,” Council President Johnson said.  “I know that John and Helen will play important roles in the success and operation of City Council and the employees they will directly oversee. I look forward to working with the members of my leadership team for years to come and the great things all members of the City Council staff will do to continue to improve the lives of all Philadelphians.”

In his new position, Christmas will oversee the day-to-day operations of the Council President’s office, which includes employees in the Executive Office, Communications, Technical Staff, Chief Clerk’s Office, and Office of Veterans Affairs.

“I am honored and privileged by the opportunity to continue my service to city residents and members of Council under the leadership of President Johnson.” Christmas said.

Christmas has worked in Philadelphia city government for more than 33 years, including roles in City Council, former Mayor John Street’s Administration, and the City Solicitor’s Office.

Before becoming Council President Johnson’s Chief of Staff, effective January 2,  Christmas, since 2012, served as Senior and then Chief Legislative Council under former Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke.  In those roles, Christmas was the main policy advisor to the Council President and provided in-house counsel to all members of Council.

In his position, Christmas helped develop, draft, and implement Council Rules related to Council governance, rules of order, stated meetings, committee hearings, referral of bills and other procedural matters.

Over the years, he has successfully researched, drafted, and built support for legislation that has included City Charter changes reforming the Zoning Board and providing legal defense for Recognized Community Organizations.  Christmas also played a role in creating the City’s Department of Planning and Development, the new Office of the Director of Public Safety, the Water and Sewer Rate Board and other critical legislation.

He also represented Council members on legislation implementing significant City projects including former Mayor Jim Kenney’s Rebuild Program, LOVE Park redesign, construction of the Comcast Tower in Center City, redevelopment of the former University City High School site and the PennAssist Program, a program to help graduates of Philadelphia’s career and technical education programs enter the building trades.

Christmas also served as Chief Legislative Counsel to former Council Majority Leader Jannie Blackwell from September 2005 to January 2012; Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff for Mayor John Street from January 2000 to September 2004; and Assistant then Deputy City Solicitor in the City Law Department from October 1990 to January 2000.

He received his Juris Doctorate from Boston College Law School and his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Saint Joseph’s University.

As Chief Financial Officer for the City Council of Philadelphia, Loughead will be responsible for analyzing and reporting on the overall fiscal health of the City; advising and providing analysis to City Council on budgetary  and fiscal matters and legislation; and providing support during the City Operating and Capital Budget approval process.  She started her position with City Council on January 2.

“I am honored to join City Council as Chief Financial Officer and I look forward to working closely with Council President Johnson, members of Council, and their dedicated staff on the fiscal health of Philadelphia,” Loughead said.  “The fiscal health of our City is foundational to the ability to make critical investments in essential programs and services while also ensuring we are prepared for any unforeseen economic disruptions. I am thrilled to be able to provide support to Council as they move Philadelphia forward.”

She served as Deputy Budget Director in the City of Philadelphia’s Budget Office from October 2022 until former Mayor Kenney left office earlier this month.  In her role, Loughead coordinated the content and design of the City of Philadelphia’s Five Year Financial and Strategic Plan to ensure it is understood by and actionable for key stakeholders including policymakers and city management leadership, as well as the public.

She also worked with City Budget leaders to determine monthly, quarterly, and annual general fund revenues, expenditures, and fund balances as well as annual capital borrowing.  In partnership with Budget and Mayor Kenney’s diversity, equity, and inclusion staff, Loughead developed, lead and communicated the City’s racial equity in budgeting framework to all elected and non-elected departments during the annual budget process.

She also led the effort to communicate the city’s operating and capital budget-related decisions and priorities through the use of budget presentations, focus groups, workshops, townhalls, social media blogs, testimony, analyses, and infographics in multiple languages.

Loughead also has a history of working with City Council and Councilmembers during past budget negotiations and skillfully articulates current and upcoming budget priorities and decisions to the business, government, and nonprofit communities, as well as to the media and the public.

During her time as Deputy Budget Director, she was also Acting Chief Grants Officer for the City of Philadelphia.  Loughead managed the mandated reporting on the City’s COVID-19-related grants, which include: $276 Million in Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars; $163 Million in Emergency Rental Assistance funds and $1.4 Billion in American Rescue Plan Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery.

She started in the City of Philadelphia’s Budget Office as Assistant Budget Director for Analysis and Communications from March 2020 to September 2020.

She received her Master of Public Policy and her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology both from Temple University.

Council President Johnson also announced that Jessica Sánchez, Esq. will remain as Senior Legislative Counsel and Chief Ethics Officer, Wendy Prescott-Tate will continue as Chief Operating Officer, Jenaye Munford will stay as Director of Neighborhood Preservation Initiative and Khara García remains the Creative Services Director for Council Communications.

Vincent Thompson, Communications Director for Johnson since December 2019, has assumed a new role as Communications Director and spokesperson for the City Council and President Johnson.

Mrs. Brett Nedelkoff, a legislative assistant for Johnson since 2019, is now Director of Policy and Strategic Initiatives for the Council President’s Office.  Thompson and  Nedelkoff started their new positions effective January 2.

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