In early June, the Philadelphia Office of LGBT Affairs announced new and veteran members of the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs. The new members were officially introduced at the Pride kick-off flag raising ceremony on June 3. The commission advises the Mayor on LGBTQ-related policies and supports the work of the Office of LGBT Affairs.
“I think all of the people on the commission are perfectly qualified to be there by their own merits and the work that they do, and the passion and dedication they bring to this field,” said Erik Larson, deputy director of the Office of LGBT Affairs. “We have a really enthusiastic group of people who are very excited. I personally am really happy to see the commission reinvigorated and up to a much higher capacity than we were operating at previously.”
New commissioners include Andrew Clark, Dr. R.O. Corbett, Jason Culler, Peter Andrew Danzig, Jacqueline Hopkins, Izzy Kaufman, Freddy Purnell, Franz Utomo and Casper Voyles. Returning commissioners are Jay Alston, human resources manager at Mazzoni Center; Chris Bartlett, executive director of the William Way LGBT Community Center; and Stephanie Haynes, executive director of Philadelphia Family Pride.
The Office of LGBT Affairs leadership very intentionally selected a truly diverse group of commissioners. Both old and new commissioners include youth, elders, people of different racial backgrounds and disability statuses, native Philadelphians and newcomers, people of varying educational and professional backgrounds and people who live in different parts of the city.
“I think one of the things that we’re really going to lean on this commission for is to be our forward facing people that are out in the community,” Larson said. “Their job and our role to work with them is to liaise between the community members – their needs, wants and concerns in this administration. We’re really looking forward to hearing the ideas that they come back to us with.”
Andrew Clark’s (he/him) experience in the nonprofit sector runs deep. He is currently the director of finance at Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence, and has worked for local nonprofits for over a decade. He has experience in financial literacy, debt assistance, public space, civic engagement and youth-centric social work, which he plans to bring to his work with the commission.
Dr. R.O. Corbett (she/they) is a sports medicine researcher, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) specialist and certified athletic trainer. She brings to the commission experience pushing for diverse, equitable and inclusive practices. Focusing on healthcare and higher education, Corbett has run workshops and training sessions on employing culturally competent techniques, and takes patient-centered care and student-centered learning approaches to her work.
Jason Culler (he/him) has experience in HIV/AIDS healthcare and nonprofit management and a background in organizing in Black and Brown and LGBTQ communities. He works as program manager for the Public Health Division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Philadelphia, and co-founded and serves as CEO of the organization Social Life Entertainment, LLC, which fosters a safe space for LGBTQ folks.
Peter Andrew Danzig (they/them) brings diverse expertise as a senior leadership strategist, psychotherapist, author and DEI professional. They have administered strategic management, case planning and organizational psychology in hospitals, higher education settings and nonprofit arts organizations. Danzig’s research and practice are rooted in community mental health, theories about adult play and how it shapes social interactions and trauma-informed work with LGBTQ, BIPOC and artistic clients.
Jacqueline Hopkins (she/her) has a background in DEI, employee relations, equal employment, and law. In her previous role as director of Equal Employment Opportunity and Employee Relations for SEPTA, she led the diversity and inclusion initiatives and cultivated substantial change at the organization. She currently heads the global diversity and inclusion programs for the delivery platform Gopuff.
Izzy “Criptastic” Kaufman (she/they) is president of Disability Pride PA and has spent over half a decade as a sexuality educator in Philly and beyond. A queer, multiply disabled person, Kaufman is passionate about teaching the beauty of disability identity and illuminating systems of oppression.
Freddy Purnell (he/they) graduated from Penn State University in 2020 where he was a student advocate, president of The Pride roundtable, and a student representative on the State College Borough LGBTQ Advisory Committee. Purnell also brings experience serving on the Governor’s Commission for LGBTQ Affairs, and plans to uplift queer youth voices as a commissioner.
Franz Utomo (he/him) is a graduate student in public policy at Temple University. He is dedicated to advocating for LGBTQ and immigrant communities, and children and young adults who navigate the Philadelphia child welfare system. He himself spent time in the foster care system in Philadelphia after immigrating from Indonesia in 2016, having escaped religious persecution related to his sexual orientation.
Casper Voyles (he/him) has worked in LGBTQ health since 2008. He has a Ph.D. from Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, where he researches the participation of sexual and gender minorities in social spaces. In the future, Voyles plans to work as a postdoctoral trainee for Drexel’s Urban Health Collaborative, where he will focus on the inclusion of LGBTQ people in occupational settings.