Speaker: Sam Katz
Sam Katz is a lifelong Philadelphian who has experienced a diverse and unique career in public and project finance, venture capital, civic affairs, development, politics and documentary filmmaking.
Sam started his career in Philadelphia in 1974 as an analyst for a business and civic collaboration, the Philadelphia Partnership. There he monitored and assessed major infrastructure projects and city finances. In 1976, he joined Public Financial Management, Inc., then a start-up municipal financial advisory firm. Several years after joining PFM, Sam became its President and CEO. PFM grew to be the largest and most successful public finance company in the U.S. as a result of the excellent collaboration between Sam and his excellent partners. Today, 25+ years since Sam left, PFM remains the dominant firm in all aspects of state and local government finance.
Mayor Bill Green appointed Sam to serve as a member of the Board of the School District of Philadelphia in 1981. He served through 1984.
During the Philadelphia’s major fiscal crisis in 1991, Sam first ran for Mayor in the Republican primary. That began a long-term quest to win Philadelphia’s mayoralty. In 1999, he lost the closest election in the city’s history.
Sam then served as the CEO of Greater Philadelphia First a business civic group focused on regional issues.
In 2003, he again ran for Mayor in a campaign that will long be remembered for the FBI's electronic "bug", installed in the Mayor's office, during a corruption investigation. The events surrounding the FBI action swamped the campaign and changed its dynamics dramatically.
Sam also had a career in early stage venture capital. He created a partnership that co-invested in Philadelphia area technology companies; he helped form BioAdvance, the region's leading investor in biotech start-ups; and has continued to be a private equity investor.
In 2011, Governor Tom Corbett appointed Sam to Chair the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) that had been created in 1992 to oversee and monitor the distressed finances of the City of Philadelphia. He served as Board Chair until February 2014.
Over the past twelve years, Sam has turned to documentary filmmaking. For the past decade, Sam’s History Making Productions has produced a 15 part series, Philadelphia: The Great Experiment together with four additional films on Philadelphia’s history. Two new films, Beethoven in Beijing—about the relationship between the Philadelphia Orchestra and China and the impact that relationship is having on classical music in the 21st century—and Gradually, Then Suddenly, a documentary on the bankruptcy of Detroit, the nation’s largest and most complex municipal bankruptcy. The work produced by History Making Productions has been recognized for its excellence with 18 Emmys and numerous awards and critical reviews.