Philadelphia Youth Basketball’s Board is an eclectic and dynamic group of basketball enthusiasts grounded by the common passion to provide opportunities for young people to reach their fullest potential. However, few people share such a deep-rooted passion for nonprofits and youth development as Nadya Shmavonian. A mother of three and lifelong athlete, Nadya has dedicated her professional career to working with private foundations and nonprofits. Nadya has a B.A. from The University of Chicago and a M.B.A from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. Over the past 30 years, Nadya has held leadership positions as Executive Vice President at The Pew Charitable Trusts, as the Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation, and as President of Public/Private Ventures. Now Nadya serves as Director of the Nonprofit Repositioning Fund, a newly created pooled fund to encourage and support mergers and other types of formal, long-term collaborations between nonprofit organizations.
As Director of The Repositioning Fund, and consumed by her numerous other commitments, Nadya initially deferred her involvement with PYB. However, through Kenny’s persistence and contagious passion for the cause, Nadya decided to join the Board, and now serves proudly as the Chair of the Governance and Nominating Committee. A friend and colleague of Kenny’s for many years prior to their partnership at PYB, Nadya admires Kenny as a strong, dynamic and visionary leader who has the ability to make PYB a great organization for the city of Philadelphia and beyond.
When asked what stands out about PYB compared to the numerous other nonprofits she works with, Nadya remarked, “PYB is unique in its ability to bring high-quality programming to young people. Additionally, PYB has immense potential to reach young people and engage in community transformation through the PYB site on the Logan Triangle. There are seldom opportunities like this to make a major difference in an area of the city that has been absolutely devastated for over thirty years – and I am excited to be a part of it. This is an incredible opportunity to show that with hope, a positive outcome may emerge from a situation that seemed hopeless for so many years.”
As a mother with children who were involved in several youth sports (including, of course, basketball), Nadya emphasized the importance of exemplary mentorship in youth development specifically through sports, “The PYB staff of coaches and academic mentors are all held to a high degree of professionalism, which is crucial for young people to see and learn by example.”
“Additionally, over the past 21 months, PYB has created a strong youth development program with its Middle School Partnership and Collegiate Summer Camp Series, which provides a crucial platform for success as the organization continues to grow.”
For PYB, basketball is the link that bonds our staff, board members, volunteers, student-athletes, and supporters; however, we are creating a movement that is bigger than what happens on the court. While sports may be transient, the character building skills young people acquire through sports, especially team sports, can have a major impact on the type of man or woman they become. “Learning how to cooperate with other team members, being able to maintain balance and discipline in life, understanding what your body can do for you and respecting your body – especially for young women in sports – are all lessons young people are exposed to through sports. These are lessons that can greatly enrich their lives.” Nadya’s perspective on these vital issues in youth development are what makes her an invaluable member of the PYB Board and we are very lucky to have her on our team.
“I am very proud to be associated with PYB. I love basketball and I love Philadelphia and I am captivated by the opportunity to be a part of this movement in such an iconic basketball city.” Nadya’s years of expertise, the pride she takes in her work, and her deep commitment to the cause presents an incredible asset to the PYB Board. With her dedication and the hard work of the entire Board, PYB is well on its way to building a premier youth development and basketball organization the young people, and one that can serve as a national model of hope and renewal.
By MaryKate O’Brien, Community Mobilization Coordinator