The 39-year-old South Philadelphia resident most recently came from a one-year stint at Moveon.org as a senior strategist.
Layendecker, who will be based out of Equality Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia office, also previously served as communications director for Democracy for America, director of online campaigns for Health Care for America Now and as a canvass director and organizer for a variety of other progressive organizations.
Layendecker, who is originally from New Jersey, studied English and sociology at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., and went on to receive her master’s in governmental administration from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.
A straight ally, Layendecker said her progressive nature came from her parents, who raised her in an accepting environment.
“I’ve been an ally my whole life. My parents were very progressive and inclusive of all people,” she said. “My mom was very into all sorts of expression of gender, so our house was the place where everyone could come be who they were.”
Layendecker got her start in politics during her undergraduate work and said she continues to be motivated to seek solutions to the clear injustices happening in society.
“I think especially right now, there’s this great opportunity to do all of this important policy work that lays the foundation to have a more just society,” she said. “I am really excited to be a part of that and take important steps forward in terms of the laws and the way we live our lives and the way we treat other people.”
Layendecker said she was especially drawn to the health-care realm after her mom’s battle with cancer.
“She only lived to be 42 and something like that can do a lot of different things to people, but the way I chose to express my grief over that situation was to fight to make things right,” she said. “Over the years, I worked on a lot of different issues and that is where my heart was, and getting the opportunity to work on that and win a big legislative victory taught me a lot. I really got to see history being made and it gave me a taste to keep doing more.”
Layendecker will be responsible for Equality PA’s public communication, as well as its member-based communication. She will take on the role of press representative and will create materials to recruit new members and connect with current ones.
Layendecker said the organization’s most important priority is to pass House Bill 300, the statewide LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination bill.
She said the agency will continue outreach to LGBT and ally citizens across the state to engage them on the issue and its everyday impact.
“Here in Philly, we already have a nondiscrimination ordinance, so the people who live here or in the other places that have them don’t really know or understand the type of discrimination people face,” she said.
Layendecker said she will take her experiences working with different audiences into her new position at Equality PA.
“I’ve learned to communicate with lots of different audiences and I will be talking with activists and volunteers, so I have the experience with a diversity of issues, which really helps me to be able to talk to different audiences on different issues in ways that everyone can hear,” she said.
Although Layendecker said she has not been directly involved with Equality PA in the past, she has supported Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club, and has learned firsthand from the experience of her LGBT friends.
“I have so many close friends who are affected by all the discriminatory laws and it breaks my heart and I want to fix that for them,” she said.
Layendecker serves on the board of the Newbold Neighborhood Association and is also involved with statewide groups like the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania.
She said she is impressed with Equality PA’s membership and is eager to help represent LGBT citizens statewide.
“I think we can legitimately say we represent LGBT people from all around the state. It shows our ability to demonstrate that there are LGBT people everywhere in the state and not just in urban culture.”
For more information on Layendecker, visit her website at http://levanalayendecker.wordpress.com. For more information about Equality PA, visit www.equalitypa.org.