It started with wanting to make a difference
Students at Temple University, Danielle Mancinelli and Lisa Nwankwo bonded over their love of North Broad Street. But it was more than just the bright lights and enticing college atmosphere, it was truly learning about your place in the world when you can find new perspective sitting at the doorstep of every academic hall.
Through Tree House Books, where they got their start working with the amazing community of North Central Philadelphia, Danielle, then Teen Program Coordinator, developed a 9-week summer literacy program, while Lisa served as Team Leader for the other collegiate volunteer tutors. Following this, Danielle headed down to New Orleans with Teach for America, and Lisa began to build her career in fundraising, while volunteering for many area non-profits and serving on the Board of Directors at Tree House Books. Though in different parts of the country, their professional lives remained focused on children, and they continued practicing yoga and mindfulness, weaving tenets of both in to every facet of work and life.
LISA NWANKWO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Upper School & Development Director (7-12th grade)
Lisa Nwankwo is a writer - a professional content creator, social impact storyteller, and grant writer; a yoga instructor - with a focus on underserved, at-risk youth; a development specialist; and a youth and community advocate with a passion for connecting citizens to their communities and connecting communities to the resources that they need the most. Born in Philadelphia and raised in Montgomery County, Lisa returned to Philadelphia in 2006 to earn her bachelor's degree in English from Temple University and began volunteering with literacy non-profits and practicing yoga in 2009. While honing her craft and cultivating her specialization in Development, she has built more than eight years of service with the education and non-profit industries and is a current and former member of Executive Boards and committees for several Philadelphia non-profits. Lisa is certified in Alignment-Based Vinyasa (200 RYT) via Maha Yoga in Center City, Street Yoga (trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness practice for at-risk youth), and Children's Yoga. Lisa has taught yoga to hundreds of children and teens throughout the Philadelphia area and strongly believes in the importance of using words and breath to connect you to yourself and to the world around you in meaningful and powerful ways.
DANIELLE MANCINELLI, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Lower School & Partnership Director (1st-6th grade)
Danielle began her studies in yoga six years ago as a way to relieve stress as an urban educator. Since then, she’s fallen in love with the practice - the joy it cultivates and possibilities it creates. A life-long education advocate, Danielle has participated in New Leaders Council, served on the executive board of Teachers Lead Philly, and is a member of the International Reading Association and Alpha Upsilon Alpha International Reading Honor Society. She has taught in diverse urban settings - ranging from charter, public, and independent mission schools - and has also served as an Early Literacy Specialist with the Children’s Literacy Initiative. In 2015, Billy Penn named her on the “Who’s Next: 16 Young Teachers and Leaders Shaping Education in Philly” list. Danielle holds a Master’s degree in Reading from Saint Joseph’s University, with undergraduate degrees in English and Political Science from Temple University, and is a PA Certified Reading Specialist. She is also a 200-hour Yoga Alliance certified instructor and certified in Street Yoga (trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness practice for at-risk youth). Danielle believes through breath and words, we can empower students to grow their voices and stand in their own true north.