Transgender woman of color to lead Office of LGBT Affairs for first time

Cherri Gregg
January 29, 2020 - 9:30 am
Celena Morrison

Courtesy of Celena Morrison

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs has a new, history-making executive director. Mayor Jim Kenney's appointee, Celena Morrison, announced Tuesday, is the first transgender woman of color to step into the role.

"This is a huge responsibility, but I am up for the challenge," Morrison said.

Her tenure will begin in March. In the role, she will drive the city's LGBT policy and community engagement and educate and advise the mayor's office and the city about the needs of LGBT individiduals at work, in the community and beyond. 

Morrison says her identity and background will help her deal with issues at the intersection of race and gender that the most-marginalized members of the community face.

"Trans folks are not being accepted," she says. "They are not accepted within the LGBT community. They are also not accepted within the Black community. That double marginalization calls for a different type of support."

Morrison spent two years at William Way LGBT Community Center as their director of programs. Before that, she worked in community engagement at health and legal services nonprofit Mazzoni Center. In 2018, Morrison began serving on the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. 

Kenney issued a statement, which reads in part, "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 our residents."

Originally from North Carolina, Morrison has been a progressive LGBT advocate in Philadelphia for a decade.

Related: Amber Hikes resigns from Philly Office of LGBTQ Affairs