Neil Batiancila, the co-Executive Director of the Greater Philadelphia City Year corps, and Comcast have become good friends and frequent collaborators. City Year represents Comcast’s largest national community partnership, a bond that began more than eight years ago.
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Neil for about a year. Humble and hard-working, this former corps member has helped to build Greater Philadelphia into one of the largest and strongest organizations within City Year. Over the past three years, corps membership has grown from 175 to 245, revenue has increased by 45 percent and nearly $2 million has been raised in the last two fundraising galas. Neil also organized the first-ever Serve-a-Thon in City Year Greater Philadelphia history, which has since engaged more than 6,000 volunteers.
So it was no surprise that Neil was among five alums honored with Comcast Leadership Awards, presented recently in Washington, D.C., at City Year’s National Leadership Summit.
It was wonderful to have dinner with Neil and all of the recipients, including:
- Emily Cherniak, Boston alum – a founding member of “Be the Change,” an organization that brings together coalitions and community leaders to find solutions to today’s most pressing problems.
- Sara O’Brien, Columbus, Ohio, alum – founder of the Tyanna Barre O’Brien Breast Cancer Foundation, named in honor of her mother.
- Sean Shirley-Davidson, Chicago alum – under his leadership, the Neighborhood House Charter School has launched a three-year pilot initiative of City Year’s Whole School, Whole Child service model, designed to help students stay on track and get back on track, to graduate and succeed.
- Nicole Yongue, Boston alum – founder of the City Heroes program, which began with a pilot of 22 high school students and has now grown to nearly 100.
Comcast has sponsored these awards since 2005, honoring more than 25 City Year alums who have continued to have great impact in their communities.
While the evening was special for all, there’s a reason beyond prior association that I’ve singled out Neil.
Neil’s parents emigrated from the Philippines. He has frequently mentioned how they instilled in him a strong sense of integrity, social entrepreneurship and the importance of giving back.
The awards ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 9, his late father’s 66th birthday. Neil mentioned how special it would have been for his dad to be there, but then he smiled and introduced me to his mom, Thelma. I’m not sure which Batiancila was more proud.
Neil and all of the honorees received certificates and gifts from Comcast EVP David L. Cohen, and earned well-deserved standing ovations from about 300 people in attendance. As David said, “These are great examples of the impact City Year alumni are having in communities across the United States. And they magnify the collective power of the 11,400 alumni who continue to change the world, every day.”