Founded in 1996, Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory provides hands-on maritime-based educational programs for pre-teens and teenagers from Philadelphia. Using a profoundly experiential learning approach grounded in Frankford’s historic connection to the river, PWBF’s programs are engaging youth to learn about themselves and prepare for the future. The organization’s boatbuilding and on-water programs blend physical strength and endurance with problem solving and academic enrichment, and help students develop the resiliency and tenacity to succeed in the transition to adulthood.
Geoffrey McKonly founded the organiztion in 1996 because so few developmental opportunities existed for underperforming and econimcally disadvantaged youth. He saw a need for an appealing program that could provide youth with meaningful activities that would be central to academic achievement, and also address the needs of students that are often not met at home or in school. When students are working with their hands and learning woodworking and a variety of maritime skills, they are engaged in dynamic activities that blend physical strength and endurance with problem solving and academic enrichment that leads to success and personal growth.
PWBF is located Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory (PWBF) is a community-based organization located in the Frankford section of Philadelphia 4520 Worth Street, Philadelphia, PA P: (267) 343-4401 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
PWBF's staff is a blend of social service, youth development, and maritime arts experienced employees.
Rachel Viddy has over 15 years of experience in the Out-of-School Time (OST)/youth development field. Currently she works at Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) as a Fiscal Supervisor and is responsible for managing a team of Fiscal Monitors and Program Specialists which provides fiscal compliance and programmatic oversight to the City of Philadelphia’s funded OST initiative. Prior to PHMC, Rachel served as a Program Officer with Philadelphia Safe and Sound and ran middle school-focused OST programs for a small non-profit agency. In addition to her experience in youth development, Rachel has also worked on international development projects in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa and in consumer products brand management for a private sector company. She holds a MBA and a MA in International Affairs from Columbia University and a BA in Political Science and Development Economics from Georgetown University.
Brett Hart, the organization’s Executive grew up in Frankford, four blocks from the location of the shop. He is a Tall Ship Captain and wooden boat builder with eight years of direct service experience working with at-risk youth form Philadelphia. Prior to joining PWBF, Brett was employed by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute going to sea with teenage students from East Los Angeles. He was the Captain and Director of Maritime Education for Philadelphia City Sail on board their 75′ Schooner North Wind, traveling for extended periods with Philadelphia teenagers. Brett worked as a boat-building educator for PWBF’s in-school, industrial arts program Canoe Build, from 2000 to 2003, and returned as Executive Director in the fall of 2009.
Tim Harbeson, the organization’s Artist In Resident is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 1989, with a concentration in sculpture. Tim moved to Maine in 1994 and spent two years working for Dave Corcoran of Bullhouse Boatworks, a shop specializing in authentic Nathaniel Herreshoff wooden boats. Tim, with his wife Buffy Miller and son Lark, co-created Stillhouse Theatre, a 31-seat jewel box behind their home in Mt. Airy.
Deepa Vasudevan graduated from Haverford College in 2007 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Cultural Anthropology. Deepa is currently the Research Coordinator at the Out-of-School Time Resource Center (OSTRC) at the University of Pennsylvania. In this position, Deepa provides evaluation and research assistance to out-of-school time organizations (afterschool, summer programs, etc) interested in improving their professional development offerings. She also conducts trainings on survey and research design for community programs and co-facilitates monthly networking events for youth work professionals at the United Way. As a supporter of vibrant community programs, Deepa has served as board president of the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory since 2009. She is also a board member of the Seybert Foundation, an organization that awards financial support to nonprofits programs serving children and youth in Philadelphia.
Ryan is a practicing attorney specializing in bankruptcy, commercial real estate and civil rights in South Jersey and Philadelphia. In addition to the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory, Ryan is active in South Jersey Legal Service’s bankruptcy Pro Bono Project, the ACLU of Delaware and the Camden County Bar Association. He has spent time working within various civic organizations as well, ranging from the Zoning Board in Lebanon New Hampshire to the Cooper-Grant Neighborhood Association in Camden, New Jersey. From coaching little league baseball to assisting those in need of legal aid, Ryan believes firmly in giving back to his community and paying it forward. Mr. Lamb has a B.A. from Vassar College in Geography and a J.D. From Rutgers School of Law.
Chris Myers is a passionate entrepreneur and founder of seven start-ups who has been visible in the commercial Internet space since 1997 as an Internet-search and Internet-TV pioneer with the well-known search-optimization company searchbuilder.com and the Internet-TV startup Sivoo. Mr. Myers has been active in venture capital since 2002 and is now the Managing Director of the Philadelphia Development Group Limited, where he directs the firm’s venture capital investment and fund advisory businesses. Mr. Myers also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship with the LeBow College of Business, and is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence with the Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship in Technology. He is an MSc candidate from the Centre for Financial & Management Studies at the University of London, and holds a BA from the New School for Social Research in New York. He is also a sailing enthusiast.
Elizabeth is the Partnerships Associate for the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, an organization that works to build a greener and more just economy through supporting local and independently owned businesses. Since graduating from Swarthmore College in 2009, Elizabeth has spent time aboard ships that seek to educate people on the importance of sailing and environmental stewardship on both coasts. Most recently, she sailed abroad the Adventuress, a historic schooner in Washington State as an educator/deckhand. She is delighted to share in her lifelong passion for the water, ships, and youth engagement with the Wooden Boat Factory community.
Victoria graduated from Mercy College with a Masters in Special Education, and brings to PWBF valuable classroom experience including curriculum development for students with special needs. After spending two years teaching upper elementary special education in the South Bronx, Victoria moved to El Salvador, where she was the Head Coach for the Salvadoran Sailing Federation. As part of her responsibilities for the Federation, Victoria ran the youth sailing program for the local fishing communities. While abroad Victoria also taught high school literature at the American School in El Salvador.
Andrew joined PWBF as a student while attending El Centro De Estudiantes. Motivated to finish his high school degree, Andrew apprenticed two days a week with PWBF as a part of the school’s Learning Through Internship program. Andrew quickly attached to the work at the shop, showing great promise with his carpentry, math and leadership skills. After graduating high school, Andrew was offered the position of Program Assistant. The summer of 2013 will be Andrew’s first time out on the water in a boat, something we are all looking forward to!