Penn GSE announces Mayor Cherelle Parker as 2024 commencement speaker

March 25, 2024
Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker (Courtesy of Jared Piper/PHLCouncil, CC-BY 2.0)

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker will be the featured speaker at Penn GSE’s Commencement ceremony in May. Parker, a Penn alumna who began her career as a teacher, is Philadelphia’s 100th mayor and the first woman to lead the city.

“As a leader who knows firsthand the power of education as a great equalizer, Mayor Parker is an unapologetic advocate for Philadelphia’s schools and the families they serve,” said Penn GSE Dean Katharine Strunk. “I can think of no better person to inspire our graduates to embrace the challenges facing education with resilience and purpose. We are eager to learn from Mayor Parker.”

Parker, who took office in January 2024, has pledged to make strengthening Philadelphia public schools a priority of her administration. She is also tasked with appointing the nine members of the Philadelphia Board of Education (with City Council approval), which will help shape education policy for the city and chart a direction for addressing the many challenges facing the school district, such as school funding, crumbling school infrastructure, and widening learning gaps.

The first in her family to graduate from college, Parker received her bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University and briefly taught English and English as a second language. She earned her Master of Public Administration from Penn in 2016. Throughout her political career, Mayor Parker has consistently championed the importance of education and advocated for more funding for the Philly schools. A member of the Philadelphia City Council from 2016 to 2022, Parker spearheaded numerous initiatives aimed at enhancing access to quality education and empowering learners of all backgrounds to reach their full potential.

The Commencement ceremony for Penn GSE will take place on Saturday, May 18. More details to follow.