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A Reformer for Our Times
James E. Nevels L'78, WG'78
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Nevels is a financier by profession. For the past sixteen years he has worked in investment banking at large firms and for his firm, the Swarthmore Group, where he is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. It is a mid-to-large capitalization sector rotator with a growth emphasis. Swarthmore manages the assets of institutional investors, among them city pension funds. The company was started with $35 million in assets. By the late 1990s assets were estimated to be worth $350 million. Today it is the 12 th largest minority-owned investment firm in the country. The Swarthmore Group invests more than $1 billion for municipal and corporate pension funds and for individuals.

A native of Greensboro, Alabama, and raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, over the past 25 years Nevels has committed himself to Philadelphia’s ongoing vitality. He serves on the boards of Greater Philadelphia First and The Philadelphia Foundation, and has previously served on the boards of Pennsylvanians for Effective Government, Council of the Pennsylvania Society, and the Delaware Country Industrial Development Authority. He was a Governor-appointee to the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System, and the Philadelphia Health & Education Corp.

His success in finance and his dedication to Philadelphia’s children bodes well for his success at this seemingly impossible endeavor. Leaders of cities across the nation are looking to Philadelphia to see if the public school system can be fixed. Nevels will return their gaze without blinking, that is for sure. 

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