Jordan Schwartz Has His Own Brand of Conventional Wisdom

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The work has just begun for Jordan Schwartz and the upcoming Democratic National Convention, which will take over the city from July 25 to 28.

Nowhere in Jordan Schwartz’ bio as director of external affairs of the host committee for the Democratic National Convention does it mention the one interesting piece of information that sort of ties it all together: his mother.
And that’s just fine with Allyson Schwartz, the former five-term Pennsylvania congresswoman, who lost out to eventual winner Tom Wolf in the 2014 gubernatorial Democratic primary.
“He doesn’t tell anyone. He’s his own person,” said Allyson Schwartz, now president and CEO of the nonprofit Better Medicare Alliance. “I think much of what he’s accomplished is very much in tune with the political work I was doing. He’s doing great work. I’m so proud of him.”
In many ways, though, the work has just begun for Jordan Schwartz and the rest of the 13-person host committee staff. The convention, which will take over the city from July 25 to 28, is only five months away. By then, the expected 10,000 volunteers they’re currently recruiting will all be in place and everything else should be set in motion to make the convention — to be held at the Wells Fargo Center — a success.
For Schwartz, who’s been actively engaged in the process going back to when Philadelphia was still bidding to be the host city for the convention — the bid was awarded just more than a year ago, Feb. 12, 2015 — it’s been hectic but rewarding. “My charge is reaching out to community leaders across the city and the region to make sure anyone who wants to be engaged in this convention is and has a role to play,” said the 36-year-old Schwartz, a Central High and Penn grad from Mt. Airy, where he’s been a member of Germantown Jewish Centre since before his Bar Mitzvah there. “The more people who want to be involved and engaged, the better.
“Right now, a lot of our focus is on volunteer recruitment,” he continued. “We need to mobilize 10,000 volunteers. They’ll be spread across the city doing a number of roles — everything from helping direct traffic to helping drive people around, being ambassadors for visitors, and helping in social media and tweeting. So far about 7,000 have expressed interest in volunteering. Another 5,000 have signed up through our website portal — that speaks to the excitement we’ve felt across the city and the region since we won this convention.”
Operating out of offices on the third floor of law firm Cozen O’Connor’s Center City building, the host committee not only handles the volunteers, but helps prepare for the influx of visitors who’ll be coming to town, including securing 15,000 hotel rooms.
The job of placing people in those rooms, in addition to setting up the convention schedule, coordinating the horde of national and international media that will descend upon Philadelphia — and anything of a political nature — belongs to the Democratic National Committee itself. It will operate in the same building on the same floor just across the way.
Meanwhile, Schwartz and the host committee will spend much of their time trying to raise the $85 million needed to make it go. It should come as little surprise that his mother is helping spearhead that effort. “She sits on the host committee as co-chair and as a member of the finance committee,” said Schwartz. “One of our big roles is to raise the money to put on this convention. Because we’re nonprofit, we can take both individuals and corporate. We make clear certain sponsorship yields certain benefits. I think people understand there’s a need for a local organizing committee. We handle the framework of Philadelphia, because we know Philadelphia.”
Schwartz certainly does, having spent six years working for former Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter as deputy chief of staff, then taking on the role of senior advisor during his mother’s 2014 campaign.
“I valued his willingness to work on my campaign,” Allyson Schwartz said. “He provided leadership and guidance in the governor’s race to me and my staff.”
It also exemplifies the values Allyson and David Schwartz instilled in both their children. “He’s a doctor and Dad’s a doctor,” Jordan Schwartz said of his older brother, Daniel. “The two of us went in the two directions of our parents.
“I think my Jewish identity is really about community,” he added. “I was raised with a sense that the work you do should have meaning and should be difficult at times, but should come with a sense of accomplishment. Everything I’ve done here — putting on an international event in Philadelphia, working for city government or working in politics — all has that sense of building community for me. My sense of Jewish identity has a lot to do with my sense of motivation to make sure a lot of people are involved in the efforts I’m working on.”
That sense of purpose is just one of many lessons passed on from his heritage. “I’m the daughter of a Holocaust survivor,” said Allyson Schwartz, who will also serve as a convention delegate. “I’m always keenly aware how important it is for every one of us to be engaged in the community. That has been very much a part of being a Jew and who we are as a family. Jordan’s commitment to the city and bringing people together comes out of that deep understanding and Jewish notion of doing right in the world.”
Besides that, he can also take with him the recent knowledge that this city can handle a big event, though the scope of the convention pales in comparison to Pope Francis’ September 2015 visit. “It was incredibly helpful to have a big event like the papal visit happen right as we were getting the wheels turning,” said Schwartz, who’s quick to point out the convention is expected to draw “only” 50,000 attendees, while hundreds of thousands filled the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to see the pope. “We understand the city is equipped from a security and logistics standpoint to handle those kinds of events. There’s an infrastructure in place.”
He’s also learned from that experience the need to keep those who’ll be most impacted by the convention — businesses, restaurants and various neighborhood organizations — aware of what’s happening. “One of our goals is to communicate really early to businesses, neighbors, the restaurant community — anyone who might feel impacted by this event,” he explained. “We want to engage both in ways in which they might be involved but also give them a real sense of what the impact might be during convention week.”
There’s also precedent to draw on. “The 2000 Republican Convention got almost universally high marks in terms of how the event went and felt,” said Schwartz, recalling when George W. Bush got the nomination. “We’re 16 years later. The city has changed. There’s a great many new venues, restaurants and people living in the city. But we can take a lot from the fact this city has hosted a convention before.”
The momentum will continue to build until late July, when Philadelphia will again take center stage. “The week of the convention, it’s a variety of things,” said Schwartz, who once served as political director for the National Jewish Democratic Council in Washington. “We’re under contract to host a number of events — a massive welcome party for all delegates and visitors, a big media party — all eyes will be on Philadelphia.”
And then suddenly everyone will go away, leaving Schwartz and his staff in the same position as thousands of other young adults in the region.
Trying to find a new job.
Contact: [email protected]; 215-832-0729

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