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M. Joel Bolstein, Chair
M. Joel Bolstein was appointed to serve as Interim Chair of the PHRC on April 18, 2016, and named Chair in October 2018.
Bolstein is currently a partner in the law firm of Fox Rothschild, LLP, where his practice consists of environmental law and governmental affairs. His environmental practice focuses on brownfields redevelopment and the reuse of old industrial sites. Bolstein assists developers, including homebuilders, with environmental-related construction issues, including permit procurement, erosion and sedimentation controls, and environmental assessments and remediation. He also advises clients on permit and enforcement actions and regulatory compliance. He also represents buyers, sellers, lenders, and public entities in corporate and real estate transactions.
Bolstein's government affairs practice focuses on obtaining legislative, regulatory, and administrative solutions for clients at all levels of government. He has assisted clients on matters involving legislation, permits, enforcement actions, contracting, and procurement challenges.
Bolstein served three terms on the U.S. EPA's National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy & Technology. From January 1995 to July 1997, he was Deputy Secretary for Special Projects at the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. He was involved in a wide variety of areas, including permit and enforcement decisions and the development of policies and regulatory initiatives. He served as a trouble-shooter between the Department of Environmental Protection and the regulated community and worked on projects involving the reuse of industrial sites and the promotion of economic development. As Deputy Secretary, he managed the implementation of Pennsylvania's Land Recycling Act (Act 2 of 1995) and helped write the regulations for the land-recycling program. He also represented the commonwealth in the Republican Governors Association Task Force on CERCLA reform.
Bolstein is a former member of the American Bar Association's (ABA) Standing Committee on Environmental Law. He is also a past officer in the ABA's Section on Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law (now SEER), and currently serves as vice-chair of the Committee on Innovation, Management Systems and Trading and the Committee on Science & Technology. He is listed as one of the top environmental lawyers in Pennsylvania in the Chambers Guide USA, Best Lawyers, and PA Super Lawyers.
In 1995, he received the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Award for Excellence. In 1999, he was presented with the Excellence in Environmental Achievement Award from Bethlehem Steel Company for his work on the Bethlehem Works Project, the largest brownfield site in the country. In January 1999, Governor Ridge appointed Bolstein to a five-year term on Pennsylvania's Human Relations Commission, which is responsible for developing state policy and regulations and adjudicating claims alleging discrimination in the areas of housing, employment, and educational opportunities. He was reappointed by Governor Rendell in 2005 and 2010.
Dr. Rachel O. Yiengst, Vice Chair
In 1953, after graduating from St. Mary's College in Kansas, Dr. Rachel O. Yiengst returned to Puerto Rico, where she married, and then moved to Reading, Pa.
She was director of the Bilingual Education Program for the Reading School District for 35 years. As director, she designed and implemented the district's transitional bilingual program for non-English speaking students, which at the time of her retirement enrolled over 1,200 students representing Spanish and more than 10 other languages.
As far back as the 1960s, Dr. Yiengst was aware that a rapidly increasing number of Latinos were moving to Reading and Berks County. She was concerned by the absence of Latino organizations, support groups, and leadership. At the same time, other Latinos realized that the need for a Hispanic organization was imperative. Together, they formed the Spanish-Speaking Council, and Dr. Yiengst continues to be involved with this group. She served on the board of the Centro Hispano Daniel Torres for many years. At one point, when its doors were about to close, she voluntarily served as interim director until the appointment of her successor in 1998.
She has been a member of the PHRC since 1978 and presently serves as vice-chairperson. In this capacity, she continues to address the educational needs of Latino and other minority students and is extremely concerned about the low achievement of minority students in schools throughout the commonwealth.
She has done extensive teacher training and has served as a consultant for business and industry in the area of human development.
Dr. Yiengst holds a master's degree in guidance and counseling from Kutztown University and a doctorate in Urban and Bilingual Education from Temple University. Dr. Yiengst has been on the board of over 20 agencies in Reading and has received many local and state recognitions.
Dr. Yiengst enjoys her retirement with her husband Richard, daughter Sue, grandson Jamie, and great-grandson Michael Robert. She was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Amigo Award from the Hispanic Center of Reading and Berks County in April 2004. She was recently honored by the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania with its Take the Lead Award, which honors some of the region's most notable women of courage, confidence, and character whose leadership and achievements make the world a better place.
Dr. Radheshyam M. Agrawal
Radheshyam M. Agrawal, MD, was appointed to the PHRC on June 3, 2014, and reappointed for a full five-year term on Oct. 6, 2014.
Agrawal is a Pittsburgh-based gastroenterologist on the faculty of Drexel University College of Medicine. He has over 40 years of experience as a practicing physician, researcher, and medical educator. He has won numerous research grants and honors in medicine and is widely recognized for his service to his profession and community.
Agrawal's government appointments include serving on the Pa. State Board of Medicine, the Federation of State Medical Boards, the Asian American and Pacific Advisory Council for the Pa. Attorney General's Office, the Governor's Advisory Commission for Asian-American Affairs, the Health Care Advisory Board for the 110th Congress, and the Pa. Medical Legal Advisory Board on Elderly Abuse and Neglect.
Michael Hardiman, Esquire
Michael Hardiman currently serves as a commissioner for the PHRC. Governor Wolf appointed Hardiman, with the advice and consent of the Pennsylvania State Senate, to a five-year term that became effective on June 4, 2016.
Hardiman previously worked for the PHRC for over 33 years. For the last seven years of his career at the PHRC, he served as Chief Counsel. He retired in July 2012. He began his employment with the commission in January 1979 as an Assistant General Counsel in the commission's Harrisburg Regional Office. In July 1982, he was promoted to supervising attorney and moved to the Philadelphia Regional Office where he remained until June 2005 and his appointment as Chief Counsel. His primary work concentration centered on employment discrimination litigation. In addition, he was involved with a number of urban area school district desegregation and educational equity cases. He also litigated sex equity/athletic program cases; physical disability/accessibility cases; age discrimination/pension cases; and private club/access cases.
Hardiman, additionally, has served as the Interim Executive Director of the PHRC on two occasions, first in 2011 and again in 2018.
Hardiman currently serves, in a volunteer capacity, as Of Counsel to the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE). PLSE is a nonprofit corporation that works in the community to reduce negative collateral consequences for those who have interacted with the Pennsylvania Criminal Justice System. PLSE focuses on providing services to low-income individuals with criminal records, primarily through its Criminal Records Expungement Project and its Fair Employment Opportunities Project, to create a more equitable environment related to employment, housing, education, and various social services through strategic litigation, community education, and legislative advocacy.
Hardiman received his undergraduate degree from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., and he graduated cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minn.
The Honorable Curtis Jones Jr. represents the 4th District of Philadelphia, Pa.
Jones, Jr. is a champion for education and an ally for criminal justice and the environment.
Jones, Jr. led the charge to enforce new public safety regulations for fire escapes, create the Philadelphia Mortgage Diversion Program, which prevented thousands of residents from losing their homes, along with a second moratorium on Sheriff Sales during January 2011 to further protect, preserve, and defend the homes of Philadelphians, and The Philadelphia Internship Tax Credit, which will allow high school, college, and vocational students in Philadelphia to receive a stipend for their work.
Jones, Jr. has collaborated with District Attorney Seth Williams and former Mayor Michael Nutter on the Witness Intimidation Law, which emphasizes the importance of eyewitness testimony in the justice system and a renewed commitment to protecting those who courageously step forward to report crime. Jones, Jr. also authored a law for 5 percent of Philadelphia's annual Community Development Block Grant to be used for Mixed-Use Property financing.
In addition, Jones, Jr. and the Office of Housing and Community Development launched a $1 million pilot project for mixed-use developments all in his first term. Jones, Jr. established the Roxborough Environmental Control District to preserve the historic Manatawna Farm, wildlife habitat, and greenspace in Roxborough and is Philadelphia's leading advocate for the environmental and economic impacts of Marcellus Shale onto the city.
A noted expert on community-based economic development, Jones, Jr. has served in various public and private sector positions for more than two decades. Under his leadership, minority-, women-, and disabled-owned business entities have received more than $583 million in municipal contract opportunities.
Jones, Jr. serves on numerous boards and executive committees, including the PHRC and Pennsylvania Crime & Delinquency Commission, both appointed by Governor Wolf. He also serves on the Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB), as Co-Chair of Special Investigative Committee examining Philadelphia demolition procedures and operations, both appointed by Council President Darrell Clarke, the Pennsylvania Convention Center Authority's Minority Advisory Committee, the Please Touch Museum, the Mann Music Center, and as a President Gas Commissioner.
A recipient of numerous community and industry awards, Jones, Jr. is one of Overbrook High School's accomplished graduates. He has furthered his scholastic achievements by attending the University of Pennsylvania's Fels School of Government, completing studies at Boston University's A. C. C. A. program, and receiving a master's certificate in Contract Compliance in conjunction with the University of Alabama.
Mayur Patel is co-founder and principal of Laughner Patel Developers (LPD). LPD provides real estate development services, including the search, design, development, and construction of projects ranging from medical and commercial office buildings to hotels.
Prior to founding LPD, Mayur served as general counsel to Hersha Hospitality Trust, a publicly traded hospitality REIT. During his time there, Mayur helped Hersha move from the AMEX to the New York Stock Exchange, and grow from 19 hotels located primarily in the Northeastern United States to 85 hotels located throughout the country. As general counsel, Mayur completed more than 100 real estate and financial transactions and assisted in the development of real estate projects throughout the East Coast, including New York City, Philadelphia, and Harrisburg.
Before joining Hersha Hospitality, Mayur was the Executive Director for the Central Southeastern Democratic Caucus in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In this role, he oversaw legislative activities and member services throughout a region stretching from Centre County to Montgomery County.
Mayur graduated from Randolph Macon College in Ashland, Va. with BA in International Relations and Political Science. He also earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the Villanova University School of Law and is a licensed Pennsylvania attorney.
Mayur has served on Governor Wolf's transition team and currently serves on the boards of AAA Central Penn, Harrisburg University, and the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation.
Aleena Sorathia is an associate in the Litigation and Labor & Employment groups of Ahmad Zaffarese LLC. Sorathia's practice focuses on representing small to large businesses and government entities in civil litigation and employment matters. During her time at Ahmad Zaffarese, Sorathia has represented clients in matters involving the Political Subdivision Tort Claims Act, Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act. Sorathia has also aided clients in matters related to contract disputes and business formation.
Prior to joining Ahmad Zaffarese, Sorathia was a Judicial Law Clerk in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for the Honorable Judge Albert John Snite, Jr., where she garnered valuable experience in pre-trial and trial practice.
Outside of work, Sorathia is dedicated to serving the Greater Philadelphia community. She is passionate about mentoring young women and participates in mentorship programs for schools in the Philadelphia area. Additionally, Sorathia volunteers with the Villanova University School of Law's Minority Alumni Society's Mentoring Program to guide young law students in their professional development. Sorathia also provides shadowing opportunities to college students interested in the practice of law through the University of Richmond's Alumni Society.
Additionally, Sorathia sits on the Board of Directors of two nonprofit organizations: Year Up Greater Philadelphia and Break Away. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania and co-chairs the Civil Rights Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association.
On June 18, 2018, the Pennsylvania Senate confirmed her appointment to the PHRC.