Every year, PGN selects a group of people to be honored as our "People of the Year." This year held no shortage of folks who qualified; the decision on who to include was difficult. However, after much consideration, those members of our community whose labor has created much change — and offered hope in a time when it's needed — include Kendall Stephens, Chris Bartlett, Zach Wilcha, Mary Groce and Judge Tiffany Palmer.
Kendall Stephens is a name that, if you haven't heard, you should and likely will soon. She co-facilitates TransWay's transgender support group with Elizabeth Williams at William Way LGBT Community Center and is one of the people behind Community College of Philadelphia's nonbinary mascot, Roary. She also volunteers at Morris home and gives so much of herself, tirelessly, to our community. Read more about Stephens on page 2.
Chris Bartlett, the executive director at William Way, secured a $1 million grant this year from Gov. Tom Wolf and an additional Pew Grant. With the funds, William Way opened the Arcila-Adams Trans Resource Center and will renovate and add-on to the nonprofit's current building. He also implemented — along with Zach Wilcha (also on our list) — the Leadership Pipeline program, along with the Remembrance Project. Read more about Bartlett and William Way's initiatives on page 4.
Zach Wilcha is the executive director of Independence Business Alliance, Greater Philadelphia's LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Under his leadership, IBA has increased its budget, formalized a job resource program benefitting the city's trans and nonbinary communities, along with a series of programming for Philadelphia's African American, Asian American and Hispanic American communities done in partnership with PHL Diversity. His values of inclusion and equity have lead to a more diverse board and programs targeting the many intersections in the LGBTQ community. Read about Wilcha and IBA on page 6.
Mary Groce is a ferocious woman, writer and historian who was given Smithsonian's 2019 A. Verville Fellowship from the National Air & Space Museum. A longtime activist, Groce and her partner of 25 years, Suz Atlas, have also been busy creating queer community at the John C. Anderson apartments, starting a newsletter, potluck dinners and a writer's group. Read more about Groce on page 7.
Judge Tiffany Palmer, newly appointed, was the only LGBTQ candidate to have a victory in Philadelphia's 2019 election cycle. Not only did she do well in the primaries with a grassroots campaign, winning over other favorites, she received the most votes of any Common Pleas candidate in the general election. An attorney who fought for LGBTQ+ rights her entire career, Palmer now expands her impact as a judge in the Court of Common Pleas. Read more about Palmer on page 5.
Throughout our pages in this issue, readers will learn more about some of 2019's pillars in our community. Remember their names and stories, and hear their histories, as each of these folks has fought diligently, sometimes against all odds, for the LGBTQ community.