PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney today accepted the resignation of Amber Hikes, Executive Director of the City’s Office of LGBT Affairs, effective July 31, 2019. Hikes has served as Executive Director of the Office for over two years after being appointed by Mayor Kenney in March 2017.
“It is with mixed emotions that I accept Amber’s resignation—sadness for our administration as we lose a phenomenal team member, but excitement for Amber as she takes on a new and exciting challenge,” said Mayor Kenney. “Amber has been a fearless advocate and public servant, working tirelessly to support Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community from within City government for the past two years. She has also been a critical sounding board on issues of diversity and inclusion spanning across numerous marginalized communities. We will miss having Amber’s voice, perspective and passion inside City Hall, but her impact on the city will be felt for years to come.”
During her time with the City, Amber Hikes focused on making the Office of LGBT Affairs more accessible and increasing engagement with the community. She spearheaded a number of initiatives aimed at driving inclusion and intersectionality within the LGBTQ community, as well as the development of several progressive policies adopted by City government. These include:
- Introducing the More Color, More Pride flag—adding black and brown stripes to represent LGBTQ people of color who have been marginalized within the community and society as a whole.
- Launching the LGBTQ Community Leadership Pipeline to diversify the leadership in Philly’s LGBTQ nonprofits, starting with the boards at 15 local organizations.
- Initiating the LGBTQ State of the Union, a first-of-its-kind annual meeting that allows members of the LGBTQ community to hear from and engage directly with the leaders of the city’s major LGBTQ organizations.
- Advocating for changes to language in the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter to be more gender-neutral.
- Working with the Philadelphia Police Department and members of the transgender and non-binary communities to institute one of the most progressive police policies in the country—guiding more respectful, dignified treatment of transgender and non-binary people during interactions with police.
Hikes will remain with the Office of LGBT Affairs through the end of the month before moving to a new position. Details on her new role will be shared by Hikes and her employer in the coming weeks.
“Serving the City of Philadelphia and our LGBTQ residents has been an absolute honor,” Hikes said. “I am in awe of what we’ve created, healed and instituted in the last two years. From addressing racial discrimination in the Gayborhood and increasing visibilty for Black and Brown members of the LGBTQ community with our More Color, More Pride flag, to developing policies that make City institutions and agencies more inclusive. These accomplishments stand as examples of the resilience, strength and power of our communities. None of this could have been done without the support and participation of my fellow LGBTQ siblings and, of course, a willingness to push for change from within the administration. Together, we have moved the Office from a local policy shop to a formidable force for change. I am grateful for my experience with the Kenney administration, and look forward to seeing the continued progress of our city when it comes to advancing the rights, protections and celebration of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community.”
The City of Philadelphia is committed to filling the position of Executive Director expeditiously and is currently accepting applications. During the interim period between Hikes’ departure and the hiring of her replacement, senior staff from the Office of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer will address any day-to-day activities and unforeseen needs.
Housed within the Office of the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, the Office of LGBT Affairs was created to connect LGBTQ people with government services and to help to ensure the services they receive are culturally competent. The Office became a permanent part of City government following a change to the Philadelphia Home Rule Charter in 2015.