Agency Information

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:

Key Staff & Board

PWBF's staff is a blend of social service, youth development, and maritime arts experienced employees.

Peter Groverman, Board Member

CEO, Grovara LLC.  Graduating from the University of Miami with a Bachelor’s in Marketing, Peter Groverman spent several years in the technology field focusing on building teams and websites to assist the traditional advertising-world in making the jump from print to electronic media.  Peter attended the Villanova University School of Law – where he completed his J.D. degree and now is recognized as a member of the Pennsylvania State Bar. Peter began focusing his interests on the International level – this focus eventually led to the creation of Grovara LlC – an international distribution group. When he isn’t traveling the world selling US Manufactured products, he dedicates his time as Founder of an international disaster response non-profit called The R.E.L.I.E.F. Foundation. For fun Peter is an outdoorsman – Skiing, Fishing, Surfing, Speaking Spanish, and Wake-boarding – are just a few of his favorite past times.

Rachel Viddy, Board Member

Fiscal Supervisor, Public Health Management Corporation. Rachel Viddy has over 15 years of experience in the Out-of-School Time (OST)/youth development field.  As a Fiscal Supervisor for Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) Ms. Viddy 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.

Maari Porter, Board Member

Executive Director, Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia.  Maari works for Mayor Michael A Nutter as his Chief Grants Officer and as the Executive Director for the Mayor’s Fund for Philadelphia. Maari has lived in Philadelphia for just over three years, having lived in London for 12 years and before that, New Zealand. Maari came to Philadelphia to work as the City of Philadelphia’s Recovery Officer responsible for oversight of the City’s $350 million Stimulus program during the Great Recession.

Prior to working for the City, Maari spent eight years working for the British Government, primarily in the Cabinet Office (which includes work for No.10 Downing Street) and the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit focused on helping government agencies deliver the public service priorities and targets established by the Prime Minister. Prior to that Maari worked for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister focused on local government policy reform and change, including successfully turning around some of the poorest performing municipalities in England.

Andrew Cintron, Program Assistant

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!

Victoria Guidi, Program Director

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.

Elizabeth Crampton, Board Member

Standards Associate, B LAB.  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.

Christopher B. Myers, Board Chairman

Managing Director, Philadelphia Development Group Limited.  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 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.

Brett Hart, Executive Director

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.