Kelly Phillips Erb of Roxborough has been named to the Philadelphia Business Journal’s ’40 Under 40′ class of 2012.
The award recognizes people who have made significant accomplishments in their profession and who are involved in their community. After being nominated by her office, Erb was selected out of 250 applicants.
Erb, who grew up in North Carolina, moved to Philadelphia to attend Temple University’s Law program. She is an attorney and principal of her own firm, The Erb Law Firm, and writes a tax blog for Forbes online. She is also very active in her community and takes part in events with children in the area as part of her own personal mission.
“Growing up, I didn’t know a lot of people that were professionals,” said Erb, “and it’s important to me that kids have the opportunity to know that you don’t have to come from money to be a lawyer. I don’t come from that background – I aspired to college and law school on my own. I want kids to understand that they have options – your future isn’t determined in fifth grade.”
A green thumb in the community
Erb, who lives in the Wissahickon section of Roxborough, has taken action to support green sustainability in her neighborhood and is part of Cook-Wissahickon Elementary School’s Green Sprouts committee and the Wissahickon Sustainability Council.
“My dad was a conservative environmentalist – he made me very environmentally aware,” said Erb. “Even at the beach, we picked up trash. We were amazed that people would hurt the earth.”
Her volunteer efforts have helped develop a green master landscape for Cook-Wissahickon school, which is now host to campus gardens and an outdoor classroom.
“I got together with other parents – we had a vision of greening the school,” said Erb, “we wanted to make it a greener place to be.”
Erb helped petition the School District to separate the Green Committee from the Home and School Association. Once separated, they were able to raise funds and use it for their sustainable objectives.
She says the goal is to make the school a pilot for other schools in the city. They follow a suburban model that participates in power-down Fridays, in which less electricity is utilized throughout the school day.
Erb also volunteers at the school, where her three children attend.
“With the school budget cuts, help is needed – there’s 30 kids to one teacher,” said Erb.
Sharing her knowledge
As a tax attorney, Erb’s blog – taxgirl.com – began as a way for her to write about what she knows best. When she started the blog over six years ago, she never dreamed Forbes online would want to get involved. The blog has won numerous awards and Erb continues to do freelance writing for various publications.
Erb’s pro-bono work includes giving legal advice to senior citizens within the Senior Law Project.
“I’ve helped seniors do living wills and powers of attorney – anything they need, but can’t afford to pay someone to do,” said Erb.
Her legal advice spans into the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, a pro-bono and low-cost legal assistance program for artists and cultural organizations. She is also a part of the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, a free tax preparation service for low income populations.
For Erb, being recognized by PBJ is a symbol that hard work and following your dreams is worth the journey.
“I think, personally, this is a validation that following your heart and choosing the path that you were meant to [take] is the right thing,” said Erb. “I didn’t follow what everyone in my small town did – I wanted to do something different.”
The May 11 edition of PBJ will profile this year’s winners, who will attend an awards banquet in late May at the Wanamaker Building’s Crystal Tea Room.
“I’m really flattered and honored to be included with such a great group of folks,” said Erb.