Erin Dwyer Harvard, Philadelphia
‘PAL taught me skills I use every day as an adult’
Director of Government Affairs, General Building Contractors Association
PAL is a family affair for Erin Dwyer Harvard.
Like her older brother and sister – Kevin and Bridget – Erin spent a lot of time at Tacony PAL, located in the gym at Bernard’s R.C. Church, 4401 Aldine St., where she attended the early years of grade school. All three took advantage of just about every opportunity that PAL offered.
Erin, now 28, started at PAL when she was in kindergarten and remained active through her senior year in high school. Her PAL Officer is Bill Schneider, who had been a Tacony PAL kid himself!
For several years, Erin was scorekeeper for her center’s U12 and U14 boys baseball teams; and she played golf, flag football, wiffleball, basketball and soccer at PAL. Then there were Math 24, the PAL Challenge, Homework Club, Camp Invention … and Tacony Camp in the summer.
She remembers field trips to the Philadelphia Zoo, Dorney Park, Phillies games, and even tickets to the 2008 World Series.
While her siblings also engaged in numerous PAL programs, it was the annual PAL Day at City Hall that had the greatest influence on their adult lives. During PAL Day at City Hall, PAL kids spend the day shadowing City officials and get an inside look at how government works. Erin’s brother Kevin was selected to shadow the City’s Director of Aviation Director, which may have influenced his current career: he is a Captain in the United States Air Force.
Erin’s sister Bridget served as PAL Mayor during PAL Day at City Hall in 2007, a post Erin won five years later and which led to a fascination with how government works,
“This experience confirmed my goal of going into public service and public policy. During my time with Mayor Michael Nutter, I was a part of a conference call with the White House and thought it was amazing how federalism actually worked.”
A Good Citizenship Award from the Union League qualified Erin for a Union League Scholarship. Added to a PAL Scholarship, the grants helped her earn a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Geography and Urban Studies at Temple University. She then went on to work with a political consulting firm and held positions with two Philadelphia Councilpersons – before heading back to Temple as Professional Development and Internship Coordinator while earning a Master’s degree in Public Policy. In May 2022, Erin was named Director of Government Affairs for the General Building Contractors Association (GBCA).
It all started at Tacony PAL, in the gym at St. Bernard’s:
“At a young age, PAL allowed me to travel to all corners of Philadelphia and meet other kids. Aside from the programming at Tacony, PAL gave me friends and teammates from neighborhoods outside of the Northeast.
“Officer Bill pushed me to try new things, meet new people, and communicate with kids, adults, officers, and board members. As an adult, I use those skills daily. Whether I am helping Temple students find internships, instructing a class, meeting with leaders in City Hall or working with our accomplished PAL Board, I am confident in my ability to communicate and advocate for myself.”
In 2021, Erin was elected to the PAL Board of Directors.