A Statement From ASAP’s Interim Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Interim Executive Director, Sara Morningstar head shot

I write to you today to express just how thrilled and honored I am to take on this new role as ASAP’s Interim Executive Director. I cannot thank ASAP’s Board of Directors enough for entrusting me to lead the organization through this time of transition and into our next chapter. On the heels of ASAP’s most successful programmatic and fundraising year in history, coupled with the strongest staff we’ve ever had, I am positive we are poised to reach even more schools, more communities, and more Philly kids than ever before.

And while I may be new to this role as Interim Executive Director, I assure you I am no stranger to ASAP.

Ever since I moved to Philly twelve years ago, I have been advocating and fighting for our kids to have the same access to opportunities as their suburban and private school peers — experiences that help them grow, inspire them to reach new heights, and make lifelong friendships. I started this journey first as an AmeriCorps member with City Year Philadelphia and next as a Gear Up tutor, spending my days serving multiple School District of Philadelphia schools across the city.

Interim Executive Director Sara Morningstar's experience with City Year Philadelphia!
Interim Executive Director Sara Morningstar's experience with Gear Up!

I saw first-hand through these experiences the educational and extracurricular disparities across different Philadelphia zip codes and neighborhoods, and gained a new understanding of just how privileged I had been to attend a well-funded suburban public school in upstate New York. I was – and I remain – furious at the structural inequities present in our American education system. From that moment on I was determined to find a way for the students in Philadelphia to have access to the same enrichment programming that students across City Line Ave. experience each and every day.

Interim Executive Director Sara Morningstar featured with ASAP Founder Marciene Mattleman

In 2014, I was thrilled to come across a program manager position job listing at ASAP. In addition to its service-driven mission, I was excited to find that it had been founded by none other than noted educator Marciene Mattleman. I was immediately inspired by her tenacious dedication to serving Philly students – making sure they had opportunities to participate in fun, enriching experiences that they would not otherwise have access to.

I knew right then that to become a more effective champion for Philadelphia kids, I needed to learn from one of the greats. 

I have now spent nearly a decade at ASAP and each year it’s been an honor. I’ve been fortunate to learn, grow, and evolve alongside ASAP by partnering with phenomenal, passionate educators and youth development workers across the city, working to help close the activity gap, and creating opportunities for our students to thrive.

From my early days at ASAP as the Debate/Drama Manager, learning from our partner club leaders how to run tournaments and showcases; to fundraising and chaperoning students to state and national competitions; to taking on new roles leading ASAP’s evaluation capacity building work; to managing a growing program staff; and most recently to building out a sustainable model to fund ASAP’s programs for years to come as well as stewarding relationships with ASAP’s major institutional partners at the City and School District.

Interim Executive Director Sara Morningstar in her first role as Debate Manager at ASAP!

I am proud of the work we’ve done for Philly kids thus far and I am excited to lead ASAP as we reach more kids than ever before.

As we say goodbye to ASAP’s Executive Director, Justin Ennis, we face a new opportunity of growth. I have had the pleasure of serving as a close thought partner to Justin for more than five years now, and I am eternally grateful to him for his mentorship throughout my time at ASAP.

Change can be scary – it can be hard. But I am confident that with your support, ASAP’s brightest days are ahead of us.

Congratulations again to Justin on his new role and thank you all for joining us as we embark upon ASAP’s next chapter. On behalf of our brilliant Chess, Debate, Drama, and Scrabble students in every Philly neighborhood – THANK YOU for your continued support.

Yours in partnership,

Sara Morningstar
ASAP Interim Executive Director

You can read ASAP’s Executive Director Justin Ennis’ statement here.

You can read ASAP’s Board of Directors’ statement here.

For questions regarding ASAP’s Executive Director transition, please contact smorningstar@phillyasap.org or vbakey@phillyasap.org. And to stay up to date on organization updates, please subscribe to our newsletter.

PS: It’s an exciting time here at ASAP! We are looking for individuals who are passionate about empowering youth, strengthening communities, and providing equitable educational opportunities to join our team!