Committee of Seventy taps Thornburgh as new CEO

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David B. Thornburgh, president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, says the ultimate goal of the project is to reinvigorate how Pennsylvanians think about representative democracy. (Image courtesy of University City Science Center)

David B. Thornburgh, president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy, says the ultimate goal of the project is to reinvigorate how Pennsylvanians think about representative democracy. (Image courtesy of University City Science Center)

Longtme civic leader David B. Thornburgh has been named the new president and CEO of the Committee of Seventy. The position has been open since the retirement of Zack Stalberg in July.

In his new role, Thornburgh sees an opportunity to increase civic engagement and ensure that Philadelphia is “well represented and well respected” in the state of Pennsylvania. Thornburgh looks forward to continuing Stalberg’s expansive mission as leader of the nonprofit watchdog organization. 

“Organizations like the Committee of Seventy operate in a space that I call civic entrepreneurship,” said Thornburgh in an interview with NewsWorks Tonight. “In addition to trying to keep bad things from happening, I think we’re looking to figure out ways to make more good things happen. To engage more people in the process. To continue adding transparency to the process of electing officials, of funding campaigns, of looking at the way government works.”

Moving forward under Thornburgh’s leadership, the Committee of Seventy will lead an effort to make sure young people can engage with opportunities in education and civic leadership.

“We’ve got to make sure that there is a fertile kind of cross-hatching of this civic energy that possesses them with this $4.5 billion city government and this $2 billion school district, and that we don’t see this as an ‘either-or’ — but a ‘both,'” said Thornburgh.

Yet before Thornburgh begins any new initiatives, the Committee of Seventy will be busy gearing up to monitor the upcoming Nov. 4 elections.

The Committee of Seventy was founded in 1904 by Samuel Fels, the Philadelphia entrepreneur who also created the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia and the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania. Thornburgh has served as executive director of both civic leadership organizations.

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