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I AM PHL 2024 Judges Graphic with all 13 judges shown

The 2024 #IAMPHL Contest Judges Announced!

January 26, 2024

Excitement is building as the #IAMPHL Contest kicks into high gear! Unveiling our judges for music, art, poetry, and investment categories – a stellar lineup of industry pros. Delve into their profiles to uncover the brilliance guiding the selection of the top four students who truly capture the spirit of Philly with their submissions!

The Vanguard Investment Category Judges

Nafis Smith from Vanguard

Nafis Smith, Principal Head of Taxable Money Markets, Investment Management Group
Nafis T. Smith is a Principal and is Head of Vanguard’s Taxable Money Market Group, which is responsible for managing $460 billion in assets. Mr. Smith joined Vanguard in September of 2003, and has worked in the Fixed Income Portfolio Management Group since 2005. Mr. Smith earned a Master of Business Administration in Finance and Strategic Management from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Cornell University.

Cesar Orosco from Vanguard

Cesar Orosco, Ph.D., CFA, Head of Alpha Equity Investments
Cesar Orosco is a senior portfolio manager and head of Alpha Equity Investments (US) within Vanguard’s Quantitative Equity Group. He has more than 20 years of quantitative research and investment experience. Before joining Vanguard, he was a principal and head of research and portfolio management at AJO, a boutique quantitative investment manager in Philadelphia, overseeing more than $20 billion AUM in domestic and international equity portfolios. He also has worked at State Street Bank & Trust in Boston and Credicorp Securities in Coral Gables, Florida. Cesar earned a B.S. in economics from the Universidad de Lima and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He is a CFA® charterholder and a member of the CFA Society of Pennsylvania. Cesar is also fluent in Spanish.

Omar Sanders from Vanguard

Omar Sanders, CFA, Taxable Credit Research, Fixed Income Group
Omar Sanders is a Senior Credit Analyst in the Taxable Credit Research group covering the Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals sectors, and over his years at Vanguard held various leadership roles on the Investment Grade Team including Head of US Investment Grade Corporate Research between 2016-2021. Omar also serves as Co-Vice Chair of Board for The Credit Roundtable, a bondholder advocacy group with members that include some of the country’s largest fixed income investment management firms. Before joining Vanguard in April 2007, Omar was a fixed income credit analyst with the University of California Regents and MetLife Investments, and an equity research analyst with Daruma Asset Management LLC.  Additionally, Omar served as an analyst in Equity Capital Markets with Merrill Lynch and as an analyst in Investment Banking with Prudential Securities. He is a CFA charterholder and holds a BA in Political Science from Columbia University and an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School where he was a Robert Toigo Fellow.

The Music Category Judges

3 members of Verbosity outside posting near old school car

Macky Monea, Niyah Iman, and Breezii Lashayee- better known as Verbosity- are a Hip-Hop/R&B trio based out of Philadelphia uniquely fusing rapping and singing into a musical collage of intellectual lyrics. They formed their group with no exact plan of action, just three sisters with similar desires to be a part of and make a difference in today’s music. Verbosity has performed throughout Philadelphia and the Tri-State area, taking pride in being able to connect with audiences of various age demographics. Verbosity has shown their passion for giving back to their community through performance time and volunteered service for causes such as domestic violence, homelessness, and pediatric AIDS.

Will Toms posing and smiling Will Toms
William Tyrone Toms is an award-winning entrepreneur from Philadelphia who works at the intersection of entertainment, technology, economics, and social change. He is the Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer of REC Philly, serving as the visionary and strategist behind the company’s endeavors. Will is a TED Speaker, a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2021, and serves on the board of three non-profit organizations fighting structural inequality and food security in inner-city neighborhoods.

Ben Thomas smiling in the studioBen Thomas
Benjamin Thomas is an engineer, producer, and mixer from Philadelphia who works in the Hip-Hop, R&B, and Gospel music genres. Ben has worked on numerous Billboard #1 and Platinum projects with artists including Lil Uzi Vert, Future, Ty Dolla $ign, Nicki Minaj, The City Girls, Meek Mill, and more. His work has earned him Grammy, BET, Soul Train, NAACP Image, and American Music Awards. In 2020, Ben opened the PA-based recording studio After5 Studios. He is also co-owner of the independent record label & management company nicethingsMUSIC and a former Governor on the board of the Philadelphia Chapter of The Recording Academy where he remains an active member.

Kristal Oliver smiling in front of blue backgroundKristal “Tytewriter” Oliver
Kristal “Tytewriter” Oliver is a Grammy nominated, platinum songwriter signed to Sony ATV Music Publishing who has been songwriting for over 25 years professionally. As a songwriter and vocal producer, she has worked with artists like Justin Timberlake and has been featured in publications like Billboard Magazine and more. Kristal was also featured in the 2023 HBO Original Documentary Stand Up & Shout: Songs from a Philly High School. In her current role as Director of Literacy for the DASH Program, she develops songwriting and music literacy curriculum. Kristal is also Master Instructor for the DASH Program and has served as Vice President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Recording Academy.

The Poetry Category Judges

Trapeta Mason smiling Trapeta Mayson
Trapeta Mayson is a Liberian-born poet, teaching artist, and licensed clinical social worker who grew up in and resides in Philadelphia. She served as the 2020-2021 City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate, has published two poetry collections (Mocha Melodies and She Was Once Herself) along with the music and poetry projects SCAT and This Is How We Get Through, in collaboration with jazz guitarist Monnette Sudler. Her work honors the immigrant experience and amplifies the experience of community life as a catalyst to mobilize, build, and create social transformation.

Oyewumi Oyeniyi smiling outside

Oyewumi Oyeniyi
Oyewumi Oyeniyi, currently a senior at Cristo Rey High School in North Philadelphia, is the City of Philadelphia’s reigning Youth Poet Laureate. As Youth Poet Laureate she will work with the Free Library in creating community programming and act as a cultural ambassador representing Philadelphia’s young creative voice.

Quentin Williams smiling outsideQuentin Williams
QuentinThePoet is the CEO of Dragon Tree Media, the Founder of We The People Stage, Executive Producer for Wawa Welcome America’s event Our America Now, and Adjunct Professor at Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communications. As an artist activist, Quentin is committed to placemaking and curating experiences to foster connections that facilitate equity and inclusion through the power of written, spoken, and visual storytelling.

The Art Category Judges

Jane Golden smiling outside of mural

Jane Golden
Jane Golden has been the driving force of Mural Arts Philadelphia since its inception in 1984, overseeing its growth from a small city agency into the nation’s largest public art program and a global model for transforming public space and community through art. Under Golden’s direction, Mural Arts has created over 4,000 works of public art through innovative collaborations with community-based organizations, city agencies, nonprofit organizations, schools, the private sector, and philanthropies. Sought after nationally and internationally as an expert on urban transformation through art, Golden has received numerous awards for her work. She has co-authored two books about the murals in Philadelphia and co-edited a third, Mural Arts @ 30, published on the occasion of Mural Arts’ 30th anniversary. Golden is referenced in publications around the world, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, Golden serves on the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, the Penn Museum Advisory Committee, and the board of directors of The Heliotrope Foundation.

Alim Smith at an art gallery posing in front of is painting

Yesterday’s Nite
Alim Smith is a Delaware born interdisciplinary artist whose work has been exhibited in galleries and featured in Complex, the hit TV show Atlanta, Art Basil, and more. His artistic process expands beyond a singular medium due to several years of applied studies in Visual Art, Communicative Arts, and Photography. Smith says he is devoted to creating art that is heavily inspired by entertainment (primarily music and comedy), women, and black culture. Smith says the presence of black culture in his work serves as a form of self-expression and education.

Tiayrra Bradley outside of red brick wall smilingAbrilliantNomad
A Brilliant Nomad (aka Tiayrra Bradley) is a multi-hyphenate, award-winning photographer and art director working at the intersections of visual arts and wellness. She currently produces a virtual music platform called The Chitlin Circuit, that highlights emerging black artists. She is also the founder of a non-profit out of Philadelphia called Birth Dei that curates holistic mental health & wellness spaces for black and brown communities.

Interested in learning more about the I AM PHL Contest? CLICK HERE


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