Bernard W. Smalley, Esq. Named President of The Board of Directors of City Trusts
Prominent city attorney elected unanimously as Board’s first African-American leader
The Board of Directors of City Trusts, the agency charged with overseeing charitable trusts bequeathed to the City of Philadelphia, today announced the unanimous election of prominent city attorney Bernard W. Smalley as its President – the first African-American ever to lead the Board in its 151-year history.
Smalley will lead a Board that administers 119 public charitable trusts, including Girard College, the historic boarding school in North Philadelphia; Wills Eye Hospital, consistently ranked as one of the top eye hospitals in the nation; the John Scott Award, which is bestowed annually in honor of Benjamin Franklin to honor singular achievements in science and medicine; and a series of other trusts dedicated to improving conditions on the Delaware waterfront and providing financial support for thousands of Philadelphians in need.
Smalley, who has served as the Board’s Vice President and Chair of the Girard College Committee since 2012, succeeds the late Ronald R. Donatucci, who died on November 3rd. Smalley will chair his first meeting of the Board on January 20th.
“I am honored to serve as President of the Board of Directors of City Trusts,” said Smalley, who has served on the Board since 2001. “Ron Donatucci was a tremendous leader who will be long remembered for his many achievements, particularly on behalf of Wills Eye Hospital and Girard College.
“The Board is uniquely positioned to change lives for the better, and I look forward to working in partnership with my fellow Board members to expand our ability to serve people from all walks of life in Philadelphia.”
“Bernie Smalley is a good man and a great Philadelphian, and on behalf of the entire city, I congratulate him on his unanimous election as the first African-American to lead the Board of City Trusts,” said Mayor Jim Kenney, who serves ex officio as a member of the Board, together with City Council President Darrell Clarke and 12 other members appointed by the Board of Judges. “He and I worked together on the Octavius Catto Monument project at City Hall several years ago, and I look forward to working with him and the entire Board in the effort to improve the lives of our fellow citizens.”
“It’s fitting that Bernie Smalley is the first black President of the Board of City Trusts,” said City Council President Darrell L. Clarke. “He is a decent man who cares about our City, and in particular, the people who most need our help and can obtain that assistance through the Board of City Trusts. Philadelphia’s needs are urgent – too many people living in poverty, not enough jobs, not enough hope. The generosity of this organization matters, and I’m confident that Bernie Smalley is the right person at the right time to lead the Board.”
Smalley’s is a uniquely Philadelphia success story. The son of a West Philadelphia barber, he grew up in the presence of some of the city’s greatest legal minds who frequented his father’s barbershop: William H. Hastie, the first African-American to serve as chief judge of a U.S. Court of Appeals; Ronald Davenport, who became Dean of Duquesne University Law School; and H. Patrick Swygert, later President of Howard University. As a child, Smalley was a witness to the civil rights movement of the 1960s in Philadelphia, where the Girard case was a major focus.
“I used to ride the Rte.15 trolley past Girard College, trying to catch a glimpse of what was happening inside the walls,” he recalled. “I grew up in the midst of the struggle, and looking back from then to now, it’s remarkable to see the progress that Girard has made, even as we recognize that there’s more work to be done.”
“It brings to mind what Dr. King said: ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’”
“Bernie is both a great leader and a great role model for our children, and his election is an inspiration for Girard College and its students,” said Girard President Heather Wathington. “I am excited for what the future holds under Bernie’s leadership. He is committed to expanding opportunities for young people at Girard and throughout the city, and I look forward to continuing our work together in that effort.”
“Bernie Smalley has been a tremendous supporter of Wills Eye Hospital, and he is an outstanding choice to lead the Board of City Trusts,” said world-renowned eye surgeon Dr. Julia Haller, the Hospital’s Ophthalmologist-in-Chief. “He is a man of great wisdom and kindness, and under his leadership the Board will continue to support the Hospital’s commitment to provide the highest quality eye care in the world.”
As a young man, Smalley assisted his father in the barbershop and eventually took over the business upon his father’s unexpected death, while also attending Temple University. Upon his graduation from Temple, Smalley worked as an administrator for the Court of Common Pleas while also attending Widener University Law School at night. Upon his graduation in 1980, Smalley clerked for the Hon. Stanley M. Greenberg, then began his career as a trial attorney advocating on behalf of victims of corporate or professional negligence. Representing plaintiffs in some of the city’s highest profile cases, Smalley was a partner at the Anapol Schwartz law firm for nearly 30 years before eventually becoming a partner at Raynes Lawn Hehmeyer in 2016.
“Bernie Smalley is a respected and accomplished trial lawyer, and he will bring his tremendous attention to detail, impeccable judgment and experience to the job of leading the Board,” said Managing Partner Stephen E. Raynes. “We could not be more proud that he has been selected to steward City Trusts through its next chapter.”
Designated as a Pennsylvania Superlawyer on multiple occasions over the last 20 years, Smalley has earned numerous other professional awards during the course of his legal career, including his induction as a Fellow of both the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, as well as the 2008 Thurgood Marshall College Fund Award of Excellence. He is a past president of the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association and a member of the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia.
“I have known Bernie as a colleague and friend for many years, and I applaud his election,” said Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker. “Through his Girard mentoring program, he has taught students about how to capitalize on the many opportunities they enjoy at Girard – opportunities that at one time were denied them.
“Given all the unrest that has occurred in the world, it is fitting that Bernie will lead the Board as its first African-American President, because he will have an even greater ability to make positive change for people throughout the city.”
In addition to his service on the Board of City Trusts, Smalley is a Board member of the Urban Affairs Coalition, the Widener University School of Law, the Ellis Trust, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, and The Philadelphia Tribune. Additionally, he is a member of Sigma Phi Pi fraternity (Alpha Boule) and the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP.
Smalley and his wife Jacquelyn reside in West Philadelphia. They have two sons: Bernard Jr. and Jared Malik, and two grandchildren.