University City’s Jamie Gauthier takes charge at Fairmount Park Conservancy

October 11, 2017

                   Jamie Gauthier

Jamie Gauthier, a Garden Court resident, has been named the executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservancy. The organization made the decision on September 13 and announced it on October 9. She had been acting director for several months.

She first joined the Conservancy, a nonprofit that promotes and improves Philadelphia’s parks in conjunction with the city, in January 2017. Prior to that, she had directed Philadelphia’s Sustainable Business Network (SBN), which she described as a kind of chamber of commerce for socially conscious businesses. While at SBN, she became drawn to “Rebuild,” City Hall’s $500 million program to revitalize neighborhoods. That eventually compelled her to leave SBN and join the Conservancy.

“Rebuild is the biggest neighborhood-centered initiative I can recall, so I had to be involved in it,” she said. “So that’s why I ended up leaving SBN, so that I could help the Conservancy connect to Rebuild in some way.” 

Under director Kathryn Ott Lovell, who left in 2016, the Conservancy had grown tremendously as an organization. Gauthier said its staff went from four to 27 people. It is currently tackling ambitious capital projects, including the Centennial Commons along Parkside Avenue. Gauthier’s biggest challenge, she said, is maintaining and building on that growth.

Gauthier’s path into community development began in the early 2000’s, when she was working as an accountant for DuPont. She was well-treated, she said, but she wasn’t sure her work created much value for society. After taking a few urban studies classes at Penn, she realized she had found a way to be valuable and went on to get a Master’s in City and Regional Planning. Right after graduation, she began working for Philly’s Local Initiatives Support Corporation. That eventually led to a job at SBN, where she worked before she got recruited by the Conservancy.

Though leading SBN was her first paid leadership role, Gauthier honed her leadership abilities in volunteer positions throughout the past decade. Notably, that includes an ongoing stint at the Garden Court Community Association in West Philadelphia, where she once served as president. Though Gauthier has lived in University City for almost six years, her love for the neighborhood goes back much further. As a child growing up in Kingsessing, she remembers taking the trolley and visiting the original Urban Outfitters on Locust Street.

“I always thought that was the best place in the world,” she recalls.

Gauthier speaks with special fondness for West Philadelphia.

“I’m very tied to this place, and it means a lot to me,” she said.

Eduard Saakashvili

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