After a several-month application and vetting process, the city this week announced the members of its inaugural Commission on LGBT Affairs.
“Philadelphia values and promotes diversity and the contributions of our LGBT community,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a statement. “I appreciate the commitment of these stellar individuals to serve on the LGBT Commission, and I believe the city will benefit from their rich and varied perspectives.”
In the same statement, newly appointed Director of LGBT Affairs Amber Hikes said, “These 23 individuals represent some of the greatest, most dynamic minds of our community. I am grateful for their steadfast commitment to Philadelphia’s LGBTQ population. I look forward to serving with this vibrant team as we address the needs of our community and elevate the voices of our most underserved community members.”
When the city announced its intent to form the commission late last year, diversity was a key goal. Of the inaugural members, at least 13 are people of color and at least three are transgender.
Ajeenah Amir, a spokesperson for the mayor, told PGN the commission will schedule its first meeting once Hikes begins her tenure next month. Amir said the commission will decide on meeting frequency but noted all city boards and commissions are required to hold a public meeting every two months.
Amir said there will be one chairperson and the group will “work out what other board roles they’d like to fill internally.” Each commissioner will serve “at the pleasure of the mayor,” but the city anticipates at least a two-year commitment from each member, Amir said.
The commission will have “an aggressive agenda, something that is broad and far-reaching and definitely will address some of the major issues that have come to light over the past year with the Gayborhood, discrimination and [issues] that have come to light post-election too,” Amir said. “They’ll definitely be making their agenda and where they stand on certain issues very much public.”
The Commission on LGBT Affairs will include:
• Deja Lynn Alvarez, trans activist and director, LGBTQ Home for Hope
• Chris Bartlett, executive director, William Way LGBT Community Center
• Kimberley Brown-Flint, former William Way board member
• Leonore Carpenter, LGBT civil-rights attorney and professor of law, Temple University Beasley School of Law
• Sharron Cooks, transgender activist, consultant and 2016 Democratic National Convention delegate
• Francisco Cortes, Education Administrator, GALAEI
• Amanda Dougherty, bisexual advocate
• Jason D. Evans, community activist
• Heath Fogg Davis, professor of political science, Temple University
• Soheila Gigi Nikpoue, LGBT sports/assists lesbian asylum seekers
• Kati ‘Jazz’ Gray-Sadle, LGBT radio-show host
• Kae Greenberg, assistant public defender, Public Defenders Association
• Stephanie Haynes, executive director, Philadelphia Family Pride
• Deborah Johnson, visitor services manager, African American Museum of Philadelphia
• Jeffrey Jordan, pastor, Metropolitan Community Church
• Malcolm Kenyatta, member engagement coordinator, Chamber of Commerce
• Anthony Leon, youth education manager, Mazzoni Center
• Barrett Marshall, attorney/LGBT legal-services expert
• Libby Peters, rowing coach, University of Pennsylvania
• Bianca Pichardo, Latinx activist, GALAEI board member
• Raquel E. Saraswati, Muslim LGBT activist/writer
• Evan Urbania, chief executive officer, Chatterblast
• Yoshiaki Yamasaki, executive director, Health Care/The Philadelphia AIDS Consortium