Earlier this month, the Office of LGBT Affairs announced that deputy director Erik Larson would vacate his role to join Gov. Josh Shapiro’s administration as deputy director of the Southeast Region.
“Erik Larson joined our Office as a part-time Policy Fellow in the fall of 2018 before his appointment as Deputy Director in April 2021,” read the office’s monthly newsletter. “He has played an essential role in developing our office and serving our community during his time here. And while we are saddened to see him leave, we hope you will join us in congratulating him as he embarks on this new journey. We know Erik will be an incredible asset to the Shapiro administration and an ally to the greater Philadelphia region and our LGBTQIA+ communities. Congratulations, Erik! You will be missed.”
Larson, whose last day with the Office of LGBT Affairs was on July 27, spoke with PGN via email about departing the role. Prior to his departure, Larson prepared a transition document for the Mayor’s Office, outlining procedures, scheduled events and other pieces of important information for the next person to take over. Details on Larson’s successor were not available at presstime.
“I believe that it’s the mark of a good leader to know when to pass the torch, and I’m proud of the accomplishments I achieved in my time with the Office,” Larson said on leaving the role. “I’m optimistic about the opportunity to build on the skills I developed during my time with LGBT Affairs, and to apply them to a broader segment of our communities across the region.”
Larson noted some of the projects he worked on during his tenure. This includes developing trans-affirming guidelines for city employees; assisting with the Michael S. Hinson, Jr. LGBTQ+ Leadership Pipeline series; developing initiatives for employees to self-identify demographic information, such as sexual orientation and gender identity; working with community advocates to award prize money for nonbinary athletes in City-supported races; and navigating public health crises such as COVID-19 and mpox by providing LGBTQ+-affirming guides and resources.
“I’ve learned from my predecessors in LGBT Affairs, both [director] Celena Morrison and [former director] Amber Hikes, the power of harnessing your identities and experiences for the greater good,” Larson said. “I hope that whoever succeeds me in LGBT Affairs brings their whole self to their role in public service, because LGBTQ+ people are needed everywhere that important decisions are being made.”
Larson officially began his new role as Shapiro’s deputy director of the Southeast Region on Aug. 7. In this position, Larson said he will coordinate with stakeholders to “track, analyze, and elevate regional issues and assist in managing the Governor’s Office strategic follow up plan.” Additionally, he will provide on-site support for the governor during meetings, press conferences and community engagement events.
Continuing to engage with the community is something Larson is looking forward to in this new role.
“Some of my proudest memories in LGBT Affairs have been during community engagement events; whether at a senior center in Germantown, a healthcare facility in South Philly or a block party in the Gayborhood,” he said. “Much of my new role will involve this kind of direct engagement with our communities, and I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work with even more people from across the region.”
Larson said “it’s not lost on me” that Shapiro selected an LGBTQ+ Philadelphian for his team.
“I’m honored and excited to be entrusted with this profound opportunity, and I’m thrilled to join a team that’s committed to creating real opportunity and advancing real freedom in Pennsylvania,” Larson said. “Let’s get to work!”