2023 Commencement Speaker
Sheila Hess, City Representative for the City of Philadelphia, will deliver this year's commencement address. She will receive an honorary degree at Rosemont’s 100th commencement ceremony on May 20.
"The theme for Commencement 2023 focuses on the following part of our mission statement: 'Rosemont College seeks to develop in all members of the community open and critical minds, the ability to make reasoned moral decisions, and a sense of responsibility to serve others in our global society,'" said Jim Cawley, president of Rosemont College. "Ms. Hess’ commitment to civic engagement is the embodiment of Rosemont’s mission, and I am thrilled she will deliver this year’s commencement address to our graduates."
Mayor Jim Kenney appointed Sheila Hess to the position of Philadelphia’s City Representative in 2016.
Her office serves as the premier PR, marketing, and promotional department of the City of Philadelphia, producing ceremonial and special events while celebrating Philadelphia’s diversity through citywide event creation, community engagement and innovative experiences.
Her foray into civic service in her beloved city is a dream come true. She relishes the opportunity to “tell the City’s positive story,” connecting the perfect union of projects and people. With pride, passion and purpose, Sheila, currently serves on a variety of non-profit tourism and hospitality boards and committees that promote Philadelphia locally and nationally, and others that serve people with disabilities and underserved populations: Global Philadelphia, Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB), Visit Philadelphia, Philadelphia250, Philadelphia Soccer 2026 Social Impact Council for the 2026 World Cup Host City, Historic Philadelphia, Inc., Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Police Athletic League (PAL), Fred’s Footsteps and is actively involved with Welcome America, Inc. partnering on July 4th Celebration of Freedom Ceremony and City Hall Tree Lighting Celebration, produced by the Office of City Representative. She is an alum and past board member of LEADERSHIP Philadelphia, Variety-The Children’s Charity, and Back on My Feet.
She is a difference maker and has earned a reputation as a stellar coalition builder and compassionate, energetic advocate who is always building and promoting the image of Philadelphia. She has been called Philadelphia’s “top cheerleader.”
Hess joined the city after an accomplished 24-year career at Independence Blue Cross (IBC), where she proudly served as Director IBC Foundation & Community Affairs and creator of the award-winning Blue Crew corporate volunteer program.
In 2023, Hess was awarded the Golden Heart of Variety Award by Variety-The Children’s Charity, as an exemplary leader and advocate for inclusion of individuals with disabilities and their families. She was recognized as one of the 50 Philly Power Women in 2023 & 2021 by Metro Philadelphia for empowerment, leadership, and sisterhood, working every day to make Philadelphia a better place. In 2022, Hess was identified by City & State PA Magazine as one of the Pennsylvania Power of Diversity: Women 100 most influential female leaders.
Hess’ personal story was highlighted on 6ABC by reporter TaRhonda Thomas in July 2022 during Disability Pride Month titled: Philadelphia's top representative takes pride in her disability, and on CBS3 Philly in February 2020 with reporter Jessica Kartalija for a special feature called “A Chat With” City Representative.
In 2020, she served as a judge for the inaugural AL DÍA 40 Under 40 and was selected as an honoree for the St. Patrick’s Ring of Honor during the 250th annual Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade. She is the recipient of the 2019 Sally Berlin PR SPOTLIGHT Award from the Police Athletic League and the 2018 Ambassador Award from Variety-The Children’s Charity, which provides assistance to children and youth with physical and developmental disabilities. In 2017, she received a Special Recognition Award from the Legal Clinic for the Disabled, named a Women of the Year Honoree “Unmasking the Legacy” Award from PhillyMan/JerseyMan Magazine, and in 2016 Philadelphia Pinnacle Award from her alma mater, St. Maria Goretti H.S. in South Philly. She was recognized as one of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” in 2007 and earned the distinction as one of the city’s “Top 101 Emerging Connectors” by LEADERSHIP Philadelphia.
Hess is a proud Temple University graduate and recipient of the Diamond Excellence Award presented by Temple University Young Alumni in 2010. In 2022, she served as a judge for AL DÍA Women of Merit.
In 2021, Sheila was host of two different Ready, Set, Philly! Good News RoundUp segments.
In 2021 and 2020, she served as co-host for The Globy Awards. In 2022, she hosted a Phillies pep rally for the city during the World Series. In 2021, was emcee for the Philly Holiday Experience press conference. In 2016, she garnered national attention from ESPN Radio, WDAS Radio’s Women to Watch program and was identified as one of five Philadelphia women moving the needle in the City of Brotherly Love by Philadelphia Style magazine. She was identified as a “Remarkable Women” and featured on then Marilyn Russell’s 98.1 WOGL radio show and did a monthly radio segment on Classix 107.9 with Dyana Williams discussing free fun events in Philadelphia.
Hess was born with a disability, Spina Bifida, and is a lifelong resident of South Philadelphia, where she resides with her husband, Michael.
You can follow Sheila Hess on social media: Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn: @SheilaShowPHL @PhillyCityRep.