Philly Mayor Kenney names Black trans woman to head city’s Office of LGBT Affairs

By: - February 1, 2020 6:30 am

Celena Morrison (Photo by Ayana Jones of The Philadelphia Tribune)

By Philadelphia Tribune Staff

A transgender advocate is slated to head the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs.

Mayor Jim Kenney announced that Celena Morrison has been appointed as the office’s executive director.

She will begin the new post on March 2. In her new role, Morrison will drive the office’s policy work, advise the Philadelphia city government on the needs of LGBTQ+ individuals, and help educate the city workforce on the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I am excited to welcome Celena Morrison as the new executive director of our Office of LGBT Affairs,” Kenney said in a statement.

“With a background in community engagement and service delivery, Celena will be an excellent leader for the office. She brings unique experience having served the community directly and advised larger organizations on best practices for LGBTQ+ inclusion. While Philadelphia is known as a progressive, LGBTQ-friendly city, we still have work to do. I look forward to working with Celena to build a more inclusive city for all our residents.”

The post had been vacant since July, when Amber Hines resigned to take a job with the ACLU.

Morrison comes to the city after spending two years at William Way LGBT Community Center as director of Programs, where she spearheaded critical initiatives including the opening of the Arcila-Adams Trans Resource Center. She has also served as a commissioner for the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations since 2018.

As a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, Morrison said she was thrilled to continue that work within local government.

“I can think of no better place to institute meaningful change than inside City Hall,” she said in a statement.

“As a Black trans woman, I have experienced first-hand the transphobia, workplace discrimination and many other challenges that face our community. All of this motivates me to fight relentlessly for my fellow LGBTQ+ siblings,” she said.

“I believe that my past experience and intersectional approach to this work will serve me well in the new role as I look to build on the impressive accomplishments of my predecessors,” Morrison continued.

“I want Philadelphians to know that I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work from the moment I step into my new office, and I plan to do so with a focus on engaging the most marginalized members of our community.”

Originally from North Carolina, Morrison has been a Philadelphia resident for more than a decade. During her time in Philadelphia, she has been a vocal advocate for LGBTQ+ residents, with a particular focus on the transgender community. She has presented at many local and national conferences, educating organizations on how to better engage the transgender community and people of color.

Prior to her work with William Way, Morrison served as community engagement specialist at the Mazzoni Center, where she provided education and support services for members of the transgender community. She is also a support specialist for Mazzoni Center’s Pediatric & Adolescent Comprehensive Transgender Services program, known as PACTS.

This story first appeared in the Philadelphia Tribune, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. 

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