Founding executive director of Allentown LGBTQ community center to step down

Since creating the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in 2014, Shanker stood at the helm of raising capital, acquiring property and developing programs for the center while growing it from a start-up to a $1.6 million organization run by two dozen employees

By: - February 3, 2022 10:15 am

Adrian Shanker

By Michele Zipkin

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center will bid farewell to Founding Executive Director Adrian Shanker in March 2022. Since creating the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in 2014, Shanker stood at the helm of raising capital, acquiring property and developing programs for the center while growing it from a start-up to a $1.6 million organization run by two dozen employees.

“The board of directors feels both gratitude and sadness with the departure of Adrian Shanker as our executive director,” board chair Claire Ippoliti said in a press release.

Through Bradbury Sullivan Center, Shanker made indelible imprints on the Allentown community and far beyond, in part by forging a reputation across Pennsylvania for LGBTQ+ health advocacy. One of the ways he accomplished that was by creating the Pennsylvania LGBTQ Health Needs Assessment, the largest and most far-reaching state-level LGBTQ health data collection survey in the U.S. The results of the survey help to identify disparities in LGBTQ health, including breast cancer screening.

Under Shanker’s leadership, Bradbury-Sullivan Center joined other LGBTQ organizations in bringing a successful suit against the Trump administration for attempting to enforce three anti-LGBTQ orders. Shanker also shepherded the center through a merger with Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley, which resulted in a substantial expansion of the budget and programs of the region’s Pride festival.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to work to create, build, and grow Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center,” Shanker said in a press release. “The decision to step down from an organization you love, especially one you are the founder of, is never easy, but I have decided to do so, because I have full confidence in the board and staff of the center, who I know are well-situated to continue to grow the impact of [Bradbury-Sullivan Center’s] programs and services into the future. I am profoundly grateful for the trust of our community, every donor and volunteer, who shared the vision we set forth in 2014 and helped to make this dream of an LGBTQ+ community center in the Lehigh Valley a reality.”

Bradbury Sullivan Center has served thousands of community members through its aforementioned initiatives and its health services such as HIV and Hepatitis C testing; youth programs centered on building leadership and fostering artistic expression; and arts and culture programs that include preserving an LGBTQ community archive, holding LGBTQ film screenings and producing LGBTQ author discussion panels.

In the spring of 2021, with the help of Lehigh Valley Health Network, Bradbury-Sullivan Center hosted multiple COVID-19 vaccine clinics to provide a safe, trusted space for queer and trans people to get their first immunizations.

Bradbury-Sullivan Center’s board of directors will ensure that the transition of leadership goes without a hitch, according to a press release.

“An organization is bigger than any one individual, including the founder,” Shanker said in a press letter. “I have full confidence in the board of directors and staff teams here to not only keep programs and services running throughout this transition period, but to continue to thrive under new, dynamic leadership.”

Michele Zipkin is a reporter for the Philadelphia Gay News, where this story first appeared. 

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