Our Founder


Hello, I’m Marla McDermott, Founder of The Walnut Club and CEO of I Heart PHL.
I am a city cheerleader, curator of Philadelphia culture and connector of people. I have an ability to seek out the most interesting people in any room, bring them all together and ensure everyone has a good time.

The greatest asset in my life has always been my girlfriends.

When I began my career in my early twenties, I found myself at the center of an amazing group of diverse women. We championed and pushed each other forward and picked each other up after setbacks. We helped one another find better jobs and even better boyfriends. Most importantly, we trusted one another and could feel vulnerable with each other. We had each other’s back and ensured each woman got what she needed when she needed it. As a result, business connections naturally occurred, which created a ripple effect of introductions and opportunities.

Later in life, as my friends married, moved to the suburbs, and started families, I chose to start a business.  As I began my entrepreneurial journey, I was starved for this same kind of community. I wanted to be a part of a village, not another business card exchange. Having like-minded friends to bounce ideas off of, collaborate with, or be accountable to was something I deeply craved.

Sometimes when you can’t find what you are looking for, you just have to create it yourself.

As I’d done in the past, I started gathering women in my various networks. When I asked professional women whom I respected and admired what a professional “tribe” would look like for them, The Walnut Club began to emerge.

The Walnut Club launched June 2015. Six months later we were 100+ women strong.

On January 27, 2016 we celebrated at the Founder’s Bash held at the Philadelphia Visitor’s Center Liberty Ballroom. Against the backdrop of Independence Hall and under the twinkling city lights we raised our glasses to toast each other and our city.

Why join our club?

I’ve designed The Walnut Club to offer you more than you ever thought possible. The Walnut Club supports professional women who want to achieve both a magnificent professional life and a deeply enriching personal life. As a member of The Walnut Club you have opportunities to meet regularly and to learn and share ideas outside of typical business events. You’ll make new friends, be inspired by the women you meet, and form profitable business relationships.

The Walnut Club
A members-only club that provides access to the very best of what Philadelphia has to offer:

  • A curated lifestyle experience.
  • Intimate members-only gatherings with city leaders.
  • Events featuring area entrepreneurs, artists, and visionaries.
  • Exclusive invitations to Philadelphia’s most popular events.
  • Fun, social activities that range from new restaurant openings to bike rides and book clubs.
  • Opportunities to socialize with Philadelphia’s successful industry leaders.
  • Roundtable discussions led by experts on the issues most important to women including wage parity, career advancement, leadership skills, and more.
  • Connect to resources, our mentorship program, and professional opportunities.
  • Access a member’s only website portal and Facebook page where you can read about and communicate with other members.
  • Enjoy a thriving community of interesting, like-minded women.

Do you want to be a WOW (Woman of Walnut) member?
If so, we want to meet you!

Check our calendar of events and come out to get to know us.