She was the founding vice president of the Rainbow Coalition, Founder of Philadelphia's first Black-owned bank, and considered "a trailblazer in African-American commerce," Emma C. Chappell may be the most historically prominent person in the contemporary public banking movement. Now she helps launch a new effort as a transitional adviser to Pennsylvania governor-elect Tom Wolf.
Chappell, the renowned pioneer of United Bank of Philadelphia and Board Advisor to the Pennsylvania Public Bank Project, has been selected to serve Governor-elect Wolf's transition review team focused on banking. She joins other statewide banking notables to assist the new Governor in addressing the status of the state banking industry and identifying opportunities for his new banking department management.
Working since 2013 with the Pennsylvania Project, a non-profit, non-partisan effort to create publicly-owned partnership banks across the state, Chappell has helped introduce state and local bankers and municipal leaders to the strengths of publicly-owned banks in addressing chronic funding shortages within municipalities. Public banks can provide new sources of funding for public objectives from existing community assets and sidestep the high costs of dealing with Wall Street banks,potentially saving hundreds of millions of dollars in public money while stimulating local businesses and expanding public services.
Chappell became the first female vice president of a major bank in Pennsylvania in 1977 at Continental Bank, and is featured on the web site "Black Entrepreneurs," which discusses her efforts to raise capital within the African-American community to finance United Bank in the 1990s.
Chappell has also taken several turns on the national political stage as treasurer of the Reverend Jesse Jackson's 1984 Presidential campaign and as founder of Operation PUSH, an organization dedicated to financial equity for minority groups.
Ms. Chappell is a life-long resident of Philadelphia, has received several honorary doctorate degrees and was named one of the area's 10 most influential African-Americans.