A major gift to CHCA by community trailblazer von Seldeneck

by Carla Robinson
Posted 2/15/23

Chestnut Hill resident and entrepreneurial success story Judee von Seldeneck has pledged a $10,000 donation to the Chestnut Hill Community Association.

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A major gift to CHCA by community trailblazer von Seldeneck


In the spirit of Valentine's month, Chestnut Hill resident and entrepreneurial success story Judee von Seldeneck has pledged a $10,000 donation to the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s annual appeal – bringing the total amount raised to about $50,000. 

“In a town like Chestnut Hill, strong leadership makes a difference,” said CHCA board member Jenny McHugh. “We are hoping that this will spur others to match her level of dedication and commitment to the community,”

“Judee's goal is to encourage others to take notice and appreciate the good work the Chestnut Hill Community Association undertakes on behalf of all who live, work and visit Chestnut Hill,” said Kathi Clayton, CHCA board president. “Please follow Judee's lead and contribute generously.”

The annual fundraiser pays for basic operations at the CHCA, which runs a variety of community events, including the always-popular summer concert series at Pastorius Park and the beloved Holiday House Tour, in addition to advocating for residents at city hearings that concern development proposals in the neighborhood and various other “greening” initiatives. 

The fund has set a target of $200,000 this year – 30 percent of which it will share with the Local, which is owned by the CHCA.

“In this appeal, the CHCA is also helping to upgrade the hardware and software for our community newspaper, "The Local," which is celebrating its 65th year anniversary,” said Clayton. “With your support, we can ensure the continued enrichment of its content and outreach to the community.”

A native of North Carolina, von Seldeneck moved to Chestnut Hill after meeting and marrying her husband, Chestnut Hill native Clay von Seldeneck while they both were working in Washington, D.C. Judee von Seldenek has lived here ever since. 

From the start, von Seldenick was a Philadelphia trailblazer. At a time when many wives and mothers did not work outside the home, she became one of the city’s leading businesswomen. In 1974, she co-founded the Diversified Search Group, which grew to become one of the nation's largest executive search firms, with $137 million in annual revenue for 2021. It is ranked No. 10 by Forbes on its 2022 America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms list. 

But von Seldeneck didn’t just stick to business. She became active in local government, and politics, serving as former Mayor Michael Nutter's point woman for filling top-level city posts. She is currently a member of the Transition Personnel Committee for Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro. 

And last year, after handing over the CEO job at the company she founded, she partnered with Ben Franklin Technology Partners (the state-backed investment firm that assists new companies in the Philadelphia area) to provide a new $2 million fund for female entrepreneurs. 

All of this is why, last December, she was recognized by the Philadelphia Business Journal with the Most Admired CEO’s LIfetime Achievement Award.

Von Seldeneck grew up in High Point, North Carolina, and moved to northern New Jersey as a teenager due to her father's job. In 1964, she attended law school at the American College of Law at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she was one of two women in a class of 500 students. 

Upon graduating, she took a job as executive assistant to then-Senator Walter Mondale – an experience she said “taught me how to deal with difficult situations and make tough decisions.” She maintained a lifelong friendship with Mondale up until his death in April of 2021. 

“It was the best experience of my life,” she told the Local in a recent interview. “I was there during the Civil Rights marches, I attended the Martin Luther King Jr. 'I Have A Dream' speech, and I was there during the demonstrations over the war in Vietnam. Every day it seemed as though something historic was happening.”

And now, Clayton said, the longtime Chestnut Hill resident and civic leader is once again leading her community with this recent gift. 

“Judee shares that the same leadership skills she applied in advancing her career apply to what we value in the leadership of the Chestnut Hill Community Association: providing a vision for the future, inspiring people to work together, and creating a sense of shared purpose,” Clayton said.

To make a donation to the CHCA Annual Appeal, go to www.chestnuthill.org or send a check to CHCA, 8434 Germantown Ave. 2nd Fl. Philadelphia, PA 19118