Eight corporate and civic leaders have joined H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest, owner and publisher of The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com, to serve on a board of directors for the Philadelphia media company.
Philadelphia Media Network L.L.C., the corporate parent of the news operations, announced the formation of the board Wednesday. Lenfest said the board would meet quarterly and provide him with guidance on the management of the company.
The new members range from a former newspaper publisher to one of the region's leading philanthropists, from the Philadelphia founder of a top venture-capital fund to two leaders of prominent city law firms.
Lenfest said Wednesday that he asked the eight to join a newly constituted board as a logical step for a business that he said had seen three consecutive years of positive cash flow.
"I'm very proud of the journalism," he said. "I think The Inquirer has never been better. The same with the Daily News. I'm really proud of how Philly.com is now part of the organization. It's growing together."
In a statement, Lenfest noted that most members of the new board have ties to the Philadelphia region. "That mix of local and national perspectives will benefit us immensely," he said.
The former publisher in the group is Terry Egger, who previously served in that role for both the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Now the founder of a Cleveland-based consulting firm, he led the drive to bring next year's Republican National Convention to Cleveland.
The philanthropist is David Haas, whose wealth comes from the former Rohm & Haas Co., founded by his chemist grandfather in 1909. Haas, who has long had an interest in journalism, serves on the board of the William Penn Foundation, the $2.2 billion charitable arm of the Haas family.
The investment fund founder is Josh Kopelman, a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He created the fund in 2004 as a vehicle to invest in high-tech start-ups. He also founded Half.com, which sold to eBay in 2000 for $350 million.
The lawyer is Stephen J. Harmelin, a partner and vice chairman of the executive committee of Dilworth Paxson L.L.C. Harmelin has four decades of experience as a lawyer, specializing in corporate, financial, and securities transactions. He was honored in 2005 by the Philadelphia Bar Association for his civic and professional work reflecting "superior legal talent and professionalism."
Joining them on the board is Lisa Kabnick, a lawyer who is a member of the financial industry group with the Reed Smith firm. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh law school, Kabnick has served as a trustee for numerous civic organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club of America, United Way of Greater Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Ballet, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Another board member, David Schizer, is a professor of law and economics at Columbia Law School, Lenfest's alma mater, where he previously served as dean. He is an expert on energy law and corporate governance.
Board member Richard Worley founded Permit Capital L.L.C. and is on the board of Neuberger Berman, a global investment management company. A graduate of the University of Texas, he began his career as an economist for Goldman Sachs. Later, he became president and chief executive of Morgan Stanley investment management.
He chairs the Philadelphia Orchestra Association, and has served as a board member for groups ranging from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to the National Constitution Center.
Among all of the board members, Keith Leaphart is probably the closet to Lenfest, whom he has described as a mentor. Leaphart, who owns Replica Global L.L.C., chairs the board of the Lenfest Foundation, the charitable organization founded by Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite.
Lenfest, 84, made a fortune when he sold his cable company to Comcast Corp. in 1999 and has spent recent years giving away more than $1 billion to philanthropic causes.
He said members of the new board would receive a "modest" director's fee, the amount of which has not been set.
Lenfest joined Lewis Katz and George E. Norcross III in putting together a group to buy the two newspapers and website three years ago, but he and Katz later had a bitter falling out with Norcross.
A year ago, Lenfest and Katz won ownership of the company in an auction, paying $88 million. Less than a week later, Katz died in a private jet accident in Massachusetts. Lenfest then became sole owner.