The Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Music Preservation Society, sponsors of the annual Great Pennsylvania Music and Arts Celebration on Memorial Day Weekend, announced Jan. 8 that Siobhan “Sam” Bennett is stepping down as volunteer CEO and chairman of the board to accept the position of chief strategic officer and senior vice president of Legal Momentum, a national leader in advancing the rights of women and girls based in New York City.
Bennett will continue to work for the preservation society as a volunteer to further the Lehigh County hex sign initiative that she and PAMPS began last year in partnership with the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center at Kutztown University. The purpose of the initiative is to celebrate, educate and preserve the county’s unique “Blumme” style hex signs.
It was also announced that Carole Gorney will replace Bennett as chair of the PAMP Board of Directors in addition to maintaining her position as public and media relations director. Gorney said she intends to expand the volunteer board and continue to build on Bennett’s excellent contributions.
PAMPS co-founder and board member Alex Meixner praised Bennett for her success in helping launch PennMArt and seeing it successfully through its inaugural year.
“With 60 exceptional music performances, a traditional Pennsylvania artist market over three days, plus the recognition of veterans—and all our bills paid—she couldn’t have done a better job!”
A Grammy nominated polka artist, Meixner said he is grateful that Bennett will continue to work for Lehigh County hex sign preservation.
“Legal Momentum is lucky to have her! We already miss her!”
Bennett said she was honored to have been a part of making PennMArt a successful reality.
“It is a unique celebration that is helping preserve and promote what is historic, traditional and classic in the music and arts of Pennsylvania.”
She added that another of PennMArt’s strengths is the quality and dedication of its broad base of volunteers.
As for her new position with Legal Momentum, Bennett said it is a perfect fit given her background of national non-profit and CEO experience focused on the advancement of women and social justice.
Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law. It also works to create innovative public policy in the areas of economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law.
Referring to Bennett’s hire, Legal Momentum President and CEO Carol Baldwin Moody, former COIO of CalPERS, the nation’s largest pension fund, said, “In my many years as corporate and non-profit diversity and transformation champion, I’ve never met an executive with Sam’s vision, team building and fundraising skills. Her deep experience, passion and work ethic to make a difference for women and girls is undeniable. I’m so very grateful to have her as part of my executive team. In her own words ‘Onward!’”
Legal Momentum Board Chair and Duff & Phelps Managing Director Elaine Wood echoed Moody’s praise.
“What an honor to have a national leader of Sam’s caliber at Legal Momentum, the nation’s premier legal advocate for women and girls. Her passion and success advancing women is unmatched; her vision, business acumen and fundraising prowess remarkable. We are lucky to have her as part of our C-Suite team!”
Bennett is the former President and CEO of the Women’s Campaign Forum headquartered in Washington, D.C., where she served for five years. In recognition of her experience in working for WCF, Bennett has been a frequent guest on the MSNBC, Fox and PBS networks.
Among her many honors, she was named one of the “Top 21 Woman: U.S.A.” by Women’s ENews in both 2009 and 2010.
As an Allentown businesswoman, Bennett currently owns a successful bed and breakfast, The Historic Benner Mansion, which she and her husband Martin Estrada rescued and renovated. The mansion is the former home of Captain Nolan Benner, the founding executive director of the Trexler Trust.