About Brett Mandel

Until recently, I was the Executive Director of the National Education Technology Funding Corporation (Eddie Tech), a private, non-profit organization working to help local public school districts utilize federal mechanisms to access more cost-effective financing for school construction and renovation.  Previously, I was Executive Director of Philadelphia Forward, a citizens’ organization promoting tax, government, and ethics reform.  Philadelphia Forward was instrumental in shaping public policy to improve tax fairness, reduce wage and business taxes, and enact ethics reforms.  I served on the Tax Reform Commission in 2003 and was director of financial and policy analysis under former City Controller Jonathan Saidel. I have written two books on baseball and one book on Philadelphia government.  A lifelong Philadelphian, product of our public schools (a Northeast High graduate), and public school parent, I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia.  I live in the Fitler Square neighborhood with my wife and three young children.

Listen to me on WHYY's This I Believe.
Read My Profile on 14th Street Oats

Civic Engagement

  • Board Member, Circadium
  • Commissioner of the Greater Philadelphia Men’s Adult Baseball League
  • Board Member, Friends of Schuylkill Banks
  • Board of Advisors Member, Philadelphia School of Circus Arts
  • Democratic Committee Person, 8th Ward/28th Division
  • Board Member, Treasurer, Smith Memorial Playground and Playhouse (past)
  • Vice President, Center City Residents’ Association (past)
  • Big Brother, Big Brothers Big Sisters Southeastern PA (past)
  • Member, National Writers Union (past)

More Biography

Until 2004, I served as the director of the Financial and Policy Analysis Unit in the City Controller's Office.  The timely reports and thoughtful analyses I published helped the public, the media, and the City's elected officials confront the City's fiscal challenges.  While in the Controller's Office, I created the Employee Incentive Program that tapped into the good ideas of City and School District employees and highlighted many ways to make government more effective and efficient.

I literally wrote the book on the policy solutions to Philadelphia’s challenges. I am the primary author of the City Controller’s Office book, Philadelphia: A New Urban Direction (Saint Joseph's University Press, 1999), a vision of Philadelphia's likely future without change and a comprehensive plan designed to make Philadelphia a preferred place to live, work, and visit.  The book received the National Association of Local Government Auditors Special Project Award for 1999.

More recently, I served as the Executive Director of Philadelphia Forward, a citizens' organization dedicated to promoting civic engagement to make Philadelphia a vibrant city that is a preferred place to live, work, and visit. The work of Philadelphia Forward won national awards and much local attention.  Philadelphia Forward successfully advocated for policy changes to improve tax fairness, legislation to reduce wage and business taxes, and Charter change to enact ethics reforms.  But, most important, Philadelphia Forward changed the way people think about how they can be involved in the civic life of this city.  As Walt from Mayfair wrote:

“I have lived in Philadelphia all my life, but I never felt I had the ability to make a difference, until now. Your organization has shown me that even the smallest candle can burn bright in the dark.”

In 2003, I served as a member of the voter-established Tax Reform Commission.  In addition, I served as Assistant Policy Director of the Philadelphia Independent Charter Commission, analyzing reforms for the only post-1951 Commission empowered to place propositions on the ballot for voter approval.

I am also the author of Is This Heaven? The Magic of the Field of Dreams (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), a book that brings readers along on the continuing pilgrimage to the Field of Dreams Movie Site where life imitates art and everyday people find redemption and reconciliation in an Iowa cornfield.  Another book, Minor Players, Major Dreams, (University of Nebraska Press, 1997) was written from my perspective as an author, signed to a minor league baseball player’s contract, to tell the inside story of minor league life.

In 2006, I was selected as one of the Philadelphia region’s top 101 “connectors” by the LEADERSHIP Philadelphia Connector Project, and one of the Philadelphia Business Journal “40 Under 40.”  In 2008, I was named one of the Philadelphia region’s top 101 “next generation connectors” by LEADERSHIP Philadelphia.  In 2009, I was selected as a regional finalist for the White House Fellows program.

I received a Bachelor of Arts degree as a Public Policy major from Hamilton College where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude and received a Master's Degree in Governmental Administration from the Fels School of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.

I am a lifelong Philadelphia resident, a product of the Philadelphia public schools (Northeast High School) and now a public-school parent.  I am an active weekend athlete, and a passionate sports fan. I serve as a Board Member of Circadium, a Board Member for the Friends of Schuylkill Banks, a Member of the Board of Advisors of the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, and a Democratic Committee Person in the 8th Ward/28th Division.  I am Commissioner of the Greater Philadelphia Men’s Adult Baseball League and active in numerous community organizations. I formerly served as the Vice President of the Center City Residents Association and, as an active writer, I was a member of the National Writers Union.

I live in the Fitler Square neighborhood of Philadelphia with my wife, Laura Weinbaum, and three children.