Like Will Smith, Alexandra McFadden was born and raised in West Philadelphia (though admittedly, she was terrible at basketball and never got into fights). However, unlike the Fresh Prince, she never decamped for Bel-Air, but stayed in her hometown to work in the nonprofit and government sectors as an education advocate.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Creative Writing in 2004 and working for a time as a linguistics researcher, she plunged into the nonprofit world first in healthcare at Lankenau Medical Center, then in human services at Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a Latino non-profit. Working in health care first gave her a strong footing in discovering how human services organizations help people tackle the challenges occurring in their lives: did they require triage for a one-time crisis, or long-term assistance managing a chronic problem? At the root of many of ills facing Congreso’s clients—and the larger Philadelphia population—was a lack of solid education background that would have made a difference in shaping the direction of their lives.

Additionally, Alexandra has been an avid volunteer within her community, including tutoring children and serving on the boards of Saints Agatha and James Church and Saint Mary Interparochial School (the latter as Advancement Committee Chair). She has also been a mentor for Girl Develop It Philadelphia and Code for Philly for an open data technology project that created an interactive visualization of the School District of Philadelphia’s budget for the last three years.

To quote Dr. King, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” As a National Urban Fellow and beyond, Alexandra will be a strong advocate for social justice and equity for youth, women, people of color, and the poor. The combination of her experience and dynamism will enable her to become a leader of advocacy training initiatives that empower others to realize their unique visions for social change.