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The 76 Most Influential People in Philadelphia

How 2020 Turned Philly Power on its head

Image credit: Philadelphia Magazine

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Clout is something you feel, not something you measure. It’s highly subjective. And yet by any gauge, our idea of power players — and what power even looks like — has forever changed this year. When a pandemic keeps us off campuses and out of restaurants and arenas, just how influential are university presidents, chefs and athletes? With lives on the line, doctors and innovators suddenly feel much more vital than developers and financiers. In the midst of ongoing protests over racism and inequity, we desperately need the moral compasses of activists and connectors. And at a time when we’ve never been more physically disconnected, the people who unite us through art, through culture, through social media are lifelines. All of which is to say that there’s never been a year like 2020. This ranked snapshot of Philly’s 76 most influential people proves it.


“It's possible to manage the city's finances better. It's just hard - and I'm not afraid of hard."

SINCE THE ESTABLISHMENT-BUCKING 2017 victory that made her the first woman ever elected City Controller, Rhynhart has continued to push the boundaries for progressives in Philadelphia. A former staffer for mayors Nutter and Kenney, she has become the current officeholder’s toughest watchdog. Her bold alternative to Kenney’s proposed post-COVID budget in May was her way of showing “that you could balance the budget without raising taxes and by making strategic and less-severe cuts to departments,” she says.

She’s made it a mission to prove that COVID need not be a cap on ambition. “It’s possible to manage the city’s finances better. It’s just hard — and I’m not afraid of hard,” says Rhynhart, once a managing director at Bear Stearns. “I’m also not afraid to use the power of the pulpit to try and bring about change.”

To that end, she’s had her office take on projects with social as well as financial impact: From auditing the city’s sexual harassment misconduct policies and payouts to launching the Community Advisory and Accountability Council that works with neighborhood activists, Rhynhart is finding ever more impactful ways to serve the public. Which is why it should come as no shock that some are forecasting an even bigger job title for her in the future: mayor. —Ernest Owens

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