LGBTQ Philadelphians make Pride Power 100 list

The publication City & State Pennsylvania recently released its first ever Pride Power 100 list, which singles out LGBTQ+ individuals who are “the most influential figures in the state’s LGBTQ community.” The 100 people on the list are working to fight for LGBTQ rights, break down barriers and cultivate safe spaces for LGBTQ folks. City & State Pennsylvania is a news organization that reports on government, politics and advocacy.

“With both the LGBTQ community and their hard-fought wins toward equality now under sustained attack, we thought the time was right to spotlight the difference-makers in the community and how they are making an impact across the state and across the spectrum,” City & State Pennsylvania Publisher Susan Peiffer said in a statement. “That’s why this inaugural Pride Power 100 list is more important than ever and why we are proud to recognize the 100 most influential LGBTQ individuals in Pennsylvania.” 

City & State recognized dozens of LGBTQ people from Philadelphia who represent a diverse group of backgrounds. Ellen Trainer (#59) is the first openly gay president of the Philadelphia Musicians’ Union. Marion Leary (#56), the director of innovation at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, teaches courses focused on nursing innovation and design thinking. Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart (#60) works as director of faith-based and interfaith affairs for the City of Philadelphia, where she advises the Mayor’s Office on issues that affect faith communities. Latonya ‘T’ Myers (#96) founded the organization Above All Odds, where she helps returning citizens tackle the root causes of incarceration, like housing and financial literacy. Penn swimmer Lia Thomas (#10) became the first trans woman to win an NCAA swimming championship. And Naiymah Sanchez (#47), trans justice coordinator for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, who has had a long career in queer and trans advocacy.

“I’m a proud Trans-Pennsylvanian and a womxn with many experiences, some rooted in struggles and many driven by impact,” Sanchez said in a written statement. “The labor that we do now leads to a fulfilling future, one where the obstacles that once stood in my way will be cleared for the next generation. The TLGBQ+ Pennsylvanians recognized on this list make up a portion of the mighty army fighting to preserve and protect our rights.”

Several LGBTQ legal professionals made the top 100 list, including, together at #15, local LGBTQ judges Daniel J. Anders, Ann Butchart, Dan Clifford, Abbe Fletman, Idee Fox, Barbara McDermott, Chris Mallios, Tiffany Palmer, and Gregory Yorgey-Girdy. Along with the judges, other LGBTQ legal professionals on the list include Rue Landau (#42), director of Law and Policy for the Philadelphia Bar Association and former executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and the Fair Housing Commission; Stephen Kulp (#61), chair of the Philadelphia LGBTQ Bar Association; Mary Catherine Roper (#92) counsel at the firm Langer Grogan & Diver P.C. and former deputy legal director of ACLU PA; Harvey Hurdle (#25), executive director of the Philadelphia Bar Association; and Iveliz Crespo (#50) of Reed Smith.

Philadelphia’s LGBTQ nonprofit leaders were also well represented on the list, including Mazzoni Center’s Sultan Shakir (#34), William Way Community Center’s Chris Bartlett and Darius McLean (#54), UPenn LGBT Center’s Erin Cross (#41), Philadelphia Family Pride’s Stephanie Haynes (#90), The Attic Youth Center’s Jasper Liem (#57), Philadelphia 3.0’s Alison Perelman (#32), World Healthcare Infrastructures’ Deja Alvarez (#58), Share Food Program’s Steve Preston (#83), galaei’s Ashley Coleman (#78), and Elicia Gonzales (#68) of the Abortion Liberation Fund of PA.

LGBTQ people in local and regional politics featured heavily on the Power 100. State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, fresh off his run for U.S. Senate, came in at #4 on the list; and State Rep. Brian Sims tied for #5 along with his colleague in Harrisburg, State Rep. Jessica Benham.

“It’s an honor to be recognized with 99 other amazing leaders of the LGBTQ community,” Kenyatta said, “and it is incumbent upon all of us to use our platforms in this ongoing fight for equality.”

City of Philadelphia staffers on the list include Celena Morrison (#13), executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, and Kevin Lessard (#29), communications director for the Mayor’s Office.

“I appreciate City & State PA’s leadership in highlighting diverse LGBTQ voices working to move our state forward,” Lessard said in a statement. “The people on this list have opened doors for countless others, and I’m honored to be included among them. I’m especially excited to be recognized alongside several of my colleagues from the City of Philadelphia who work to make an impact everyday.

Other LGBTQ in government and politics who made the list include John Brady (#33), Eric Gutshall (#30), Sergio Cea (#79), Raphael Alvarez Febo (#6), Lauren Vidas (#44), and Sarah Stevenson (#51).

The tourism and hospitality industry was well represented on the list with Paul Steinke (#43), executive director of the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, Greg DeShields (#77), executive director of Tourism Diversity Matters, and Michael Newmuis (#12), chief of staff at Visit Philadelphia. 

“Philadelphia’s strong representation on the list is an encouraging signal that our city has LGBTQ+ leaders working to ensure our best days are ahead,” Newmuis said in a statement. “I’m proud to be included. With so much to tackle in Pennsylvania, using our diverse voices to inform decisions is more important than ever.”

Many on the list are leaders in the business community, including those in small businesses, corporations, or those who are self-employed. Real estate investor Mel Heifetz (#2), paid off the William Way LGBT Community Center’s mortgage in 2005 and has donated $16 million to the Philadelphia Foundation in support of organizations including Galaei, The Attic Youth Center and the Trevor Project. Jonathan Lovitz (#17) has helped author and pass over 25 state and local laws, has facilitated billions of dollars in contracts and economic development for minority small business owners as part of his work at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. And Klayton Fennell (#91) was one of the first out LGBTQ corporate leaders in the country when he began his career at Comcast in 2001. 

Other LGBTQ businesspeople on the list include Zach Wilcha (#11), Malcolm Lazin (#22), Deshane Hambrick (#37), Stephen Carlino (#98), Ernest Owens (#73), Marcus Iannozzi (#36), Steve Rosen (#39), Kory Aversa (#53).Among the journalists on the list (including those from Erie Gay News and QBurgh) is PGN Publisher Mark Segal (#1). Segal, who co-founded PGN in 1976, participated in the Stonewall Riots at the age of 18, was a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front in New York, and served as a marshall of the very first Gay Pride in 1970. He also spearheaded a campaign to fight for LGBTQ visibility in media, for which he disrupted live TV shows including the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and the Today Show. Segal partnered with the Obama administration to create and build the nation’s first official “LGBT Friendly” senior affordable housing apartment building. The 19.8 million dollar project, known as The John C. Anderson Apartments, opened in 2013.

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