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Matt Berghesier elected chair of Barra Foundation

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Press release

President of University City District for more than a decade brings wealth
of non-profit knowledge to foundation


Wayne, PA—(Jan. 12, 2021)—The Barra Foundation (Barra), which promotes and supports innovation in Greater Philadelphia with grants to organizations in Arts and Culture, Education, Health and Human Services, has elected Matt Bergheiser chair of its board. Bergheiser, president of  University City District (UCD), has been a Barra director since 2015. He brings to his new chairman position a wealth of leadership experience directing projects that have connected institutions, business leaders and community groups to revitalize cities and create  economic opportunities.

“Matt brings all the skills, experience and networks Barra needs to thrive moving forward,” said Kristina Wahl, president of The Barra Foundation. “Aside from his background in philanthropy, he has deep roots in the nonprofit sector. Matt brings his real-time nonprofit perspective into the board room and he understands what it takes to innovate in the social sector.  His insight and expertise will make Barra that much stronger and more responsive to our partners, especially as we work together to overcome the pandemic and systemic racism.”

Across a 25-year career in nonprofit leadership and social entrepreneurship in Greater Philadelphia, Matt has founded civic initiatives and led organizations that have placed 2,000 low-income Philadelphians in living wage, life-changing jobs; generated $20 million in investments in civic infrastructure and public spaces; rehabilitated 150 formerly abandoned housing units; and helped start, support, or stabilize more than 300 locally owned businesses.

Prior to leading University City District, he was Philadelphia regional director for the Knight Foundation, executive director of Trenton’s downtown business improvement district and executive vice president of The Enterprise Center.  Matt is chair emeritus of Community College of Philadelphia and is a co-founder of a number of key economic inclusion efforts, including the West Philadelphia Skills Initiative, the Job Opportunity Investment Network (JOIN), and Green City Works.

“From the perspective of operating a nonprofit, Barra has always been a beacon for seeking out and supporting new, ambitious ideas that hold the power to transform Philadelphia,” said Bergheiser.  “As a board member, I’ve seen this unwavering commitment to innovation firsthand, and I’m truly honored to now serve as chair alongside wonderful, dedicated board colleagues and staff members.”

Barra provides approximately $4 million in annual grants, aimed at furthering innovation that addresses the needs of low-income populations and promotes a vibrant cultural community in the region. The foundation works to both create the conditions for innovation and to provide project-specific support to test and launch novel approaches in and across Arts & Culture, Education, Health and Human Services.   .

During the last several years, Barra has been committed to bringing on more board members who are part of the nonprofit sector in order for the foundation board and staff to benefit from their on-the-ground experience. Barra’s approach is focused on listening to and learning from nonprofits and other partnerships.

For instance, Barra director Valerie V. Gay and Donna De Carolis joined the board at the same time as Mr. Bergheiser—in 2015.  Ms. Gay is deputy director of audience engagement and chief experience officer for the Barnes Foundation. Donna De Carolis, chair of the audit committee, is the founding dean of Drexel University’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship, where she initiated a pioneering approach to entrepreneurship education.  Consultant Stacy E. Holland, chair of the Barra nominating committee and a director since 2019, served as executive director of The Lenfest Foundation, where she executed a strategy to invest in early learning, programs for middle school students and career and technical education. Previously, she served as chief of strategic partnerships for the School District of Philadelphia and co-founded the Philadelphia Youth Network.


About The Barra Foundation

The Barra Foundation invests in innovation to inspire change that strengthens communities in the Greater Philadelphia region. Barra’s investments are designed to address the needs of low-income populations in the region and promote a continued vibrant cultural community. Through its Catalyst Fund and Barra Awards, the Foundation provides approximately $4 million in annual grants to 501(c)(3) organizations that are focused on supporting innovation in and across the fields Arts & Culture, Education, Health and Human Services.

For more information, please visit and follow @BarraFdn on Twitter

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