Get to Know Fairmount Ventures: Edwin Harvey, AssociateBy Aimée Miller | May 16th, 2017
Edwin Harvey, Associate, uses his skills in research and analysis to help Fairmount’s clients realize their missions and grow their capacities. Edwin has a B.A. from the George Washington University, a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley.
FV: Before you joined Fairmount, you were an independent consultant in organization development and project management. What aspects of that role are you now applying to your position at Fairmount?
EH: My previous role taught me that every organization boils down to a group of individual people. Development is thus a matter of enabling and encouraging the behaviors that will drive an organization’s success. Consultants therefore need to be empathetic, attending as much to motivations, habits and culture as we do to business goals and outcomes. Before our team at Fairmount makes a recommendation, we consider it from our client’s perspective and then tailor it accordingly, addressing any challenges that may make that recommendation difficult to enact.
FV: What does a typical day look like for you?
EH: I spend most of each day listening carefully to clients and studying their communities and business contexts. I also work with colleagues to frame my findings as solutions to the specific problems that my clients face. I spend the rest of my time communicating those solutions in emails, phone calls, presentations, and the like. Of course, at some point, I’ll get hungry and break to eat, often taking a sandwich on a walk around downtown.
FV: In addition to writing your dissertation on the work of painter Andrew Wyeth, you’ve taught art history at a couple of universities. In a city like Philadelphia, what do you believe having sufficient access to the arts provides to the community?
EH: The arts can broaden people’s perspectives and spark intercultural dialogue and creative thought. I would therefore like everyone to have as much access as they would like. And maybe they already do: Wyeth once said that “art, to me, is seeing.” I’ve always liked this definition because it implies that the practice of art is open to anyone who is willing to observe the world and express what they find. Wyeth’s definition also has the benefit of being applicable across Philadelphia’s great diversity of layered and overlapping communities, each of which may observe and express things that others overlook.
FV: What do you enjoy most about your work?
EH: My work at Fairmount connects me with professionals from diverse industries and sectors – staff members from a range of Philadelphia-area nonprofits, and board members and donors from just about everywhere else. I love to learn about how each person communicates, what they value, and what insights they have to share.
FV: What are some of your favorite things about the city?
EH: I enjoy the City’s green public spaces in general, particularly the cherry blossoms. As a kid, I played along the River Drives, the Parkway and in many small neighborhood parks, and I still value them highly today. My other longtime favorites include fresh water ice and soft pretzels, but that hardly makes me unique! Less well-known, but equally remarkable to me, is the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection of arms and armor. In that one collection, and even in some of its individual objects, viewers can glimpse every facet of humanity – from horrors of violence and death to achievements of art, culture, and industry.