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Sylvia Watts McKinney

Sylvia Watts McKinney

Philadelphia Executive Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers Sylvia is motivated by the belief that all...

Sylvia Watts McKinney

Sylvia Watts McKinney

Position: Philadelphia Executive Director
Email: smckinney@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Sylvia is motivated by the belief that all youth should have access to college regardless of their zip code, and is excited to serve this mission as the Executive Director of the Summer Search Philadelphia office.

Prior to joining Summer Search, Sylvia built an exemplary career in education and entrepreneurship. Sylvia started her real estate career with a start-up company, Taylor Properties, where she successfully negotiated and finalized construction, permanent and equity loans with private banks and government agencies to build and sell affordable, fee simple housing as well as commercial properties.

As Executive Director of the Museum of Afro American History in Boston and the Philadelphia chapter of Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, she provided leadership on key strategic plans and implemented fundraising programs with staff and stakeholders, collaborated with the members of the media to promote the missions of these organizations, resulting in various articles, live television coverage and the creation of videos/films.

While as the director of the MAAH, the late Senator Edward Kennedy introduced her to First Lady Hilary Clinton. Senator Kennedy also invited her to witness the late President Nelson Mandela be presented with a Congressional Gold Medal from President Bill Clinton. These profound experiences re-ignited her passion to work for organizations to alleviate poverty in this country.

Sylvia holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of South Carolina and Masters of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her hobbies include travel, biking, golfing, and reading tons of comic books, especially the Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur series!

Pamela Lehrer

Philadelphia Board Chair


Pamela Lehrer

Position: Philadelphia Board Chair
Professional Title: Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Berwind Corporation
Carmita Champ

Carmita Champ

Post-Secondary Director

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carmita-champ/ Carmita, a Philadelphia native, experienced first-hand...

Carmita Champ

Carmita Champ

Position: Post-Secondary Director
Phone: 215.399.9106
Email: cchamp@summersearch.org

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/carmita-champ/

Carmita, a Philadelphia native, experienced first-hand the disparities of educational attainment, financial stability, and support systems within the City of Brotherly Love. As a higher education professional with over 15 years of experience within academic and student affairs, she’s committed to advocating for student needs and championing access to educational opportunities in the Philadelphia Area. 

Prior to joining Summer Search, Carmita served as the Director of Graduate Student Services at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business. In this role, Carmita was responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of admissions, academic advising, program management and alumni relations. Carmita created a holistic approach to operationalize academic programming and student services; supporting the realities of students as they entered, moved through, and graduated from the university. Grappling with historically low admission rates from minority student applicants, Carmita created the Underrepresented Minority (URM) Scholarship fund which resulted in a more diverse student body and helped close the financial gap for students of color into LeBow College of Business MBA and Master’s programs.

For Carmita, joining the Summer Search Philadelphia team presents the opportunity to leverage her expertise within higher education to intentionally support young people of color to better prepare for their futures beyond high school.

Carmita earned her Master of Science in Higher Education Administration from Drexel University and a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from Peirce College. As a first-generation graduate, Carmita credits Peirce College in providing a community for her to thrive as a student. 

When she’s not indulging in a pint of ice cream or a great Philly restaurant, Carmita, is in her happy space tending to her flower garden or working on her latest DIY project.