After 151 Years, Philly Board of Trusts Elects First Black President

Mayor Jim Kenney called West Philadelphia native Bernard Smalley "a good man and a great Philadelphian"

Bernard Smalley looks at the camera in a portrait photo. Smalley was elected the first Black president of the Board of Directors of City Trusts in the agency's 151-year history.
Board of Directors of City Trusts

The agency that oversees charitable trusts for Philadelphia has appointed its first Black president since its founding 151 years ago.

Attorney Bernard W. Smalley becomes president of the Board of Directors of City Trusts after being unanimously elected to his position, the agency announced Sunday. He will lead the group which oversees 119 public charitable trusts.

“The Board is uniquely positioned to change lives for the better, and I look forward to working in partnership with my fellow Board members to expand our ability to serve people from all walks of life in Philadelphia,” Smalley said in a statement.

Smalley has worked at the board since 2001 and held the vice presidency beginning in 2012. He takes over as president following the death of former president Ronald M. Donatucci in November of last year.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney congratulated Smalley for his latest achievement, calling him “a good man and a great Philadelphian.”

“He and I worked together on the Octavius Catto Monument project at City Hall several years ago, and I look forward to working with him and the entire Board in the effort to improve the lives of our fellow citizens,” Kenney said.

Smalley is the son of a West Philadelphia barber and grew up in the 1960s around “some of the city’s greatest legal minds,” who frequented his father’s barbershop, the BDCT said.

He attended Temple University and then Widener University Law School, graduating in 1980 and going on to become a trial attorney on behalf of victims of corporate or professional negligence. He has frequently been designated as a Pennsylvania “Super Lawyer” by the Super Lawyer ratings service, which recognizes attorneys who have “attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.”

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