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October 28, 2016

Gov. Wolf nominates Estelle Richman to School Reform Commission

Gov. Tom Wolf will nominate Estelle Richman to fill one of the vacancies on the School Reform Commission, he announced Friday.

Richman has served varying roles during a decades-long career in government, including as a senior advisor to the United States secretary of Housing and Urban Development. She also served as the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare under former Gov. Ed Rendell.

“I have worked with Estelle in many capacities, and she is one of the most dedicated and qualified individuals I know,” Wolf said in a statement. “Estelle’s experience is unmatched and her breadth of knowledge and grasp of a diverse array of policy issues make her a perfect fit for the School Reform Commission.”

Two of the five SRC members announced their resignations earlier this month. Feather Houston, the commission's longest tenured member, resigned on Oct. 14. Chairwoman Marjorie Neff's resignation is effective Nov. 3.

Both members' terms were set to expire in January, along with the term of Sylvia Simms. The SRC also includes Bill Green and Farah Jimenez.

The SRC formed in 2001 as part of the state's takeover of the beleaguered School District of Philadelphia. It serves in place of a local school board.

Three of its members are appointed by the governor. The other two are appointed by the mayor.

Richman is in line to replace Houston, who was appointed in 2011 by former Gov. Tom Corbett. She must be confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate. If so, she'll serve a five-year term.

"The school district is now back on more secure financial footing," Wolf said in his statement. "But we have more work to do, and Estelle is a solid fit to help me continue my work toward a more robust public education system in Philadelphia that better trains our children for the next levels of education and to enter a modern workforce.”

Neff's replacement will be nominated by Mayor Jim Kenney. Appointees made by the mayor serve four-year terms and do not need to be confirmed by City Council.

Richman previously worked with the transition teams of both Wolf and Kenney. She has served as the city's managing director and as its director of social services. She also has served as the city's commissioner of public health.

Richman has a master's degree from Cleveland State University and a certification as a school psychologist.