City Provides Update on Pathways to Reform, Transformation and Reconciliation

PHILADELPHIA —  Mayor Jim Kenney and other City officials today provided an update on the City’s pathways to reform, transformation and reconciliation. The effort is supported by a Steering Committee of diverse civic, business, and faith leaders. The committee was created last month to help the City enact a meaningful agenda for reform, reimagine public safety, and advance racial justice. 

“I thank the members of the Steering Committee for partnering with our Administration on this critical work,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Over the last several weeks, this group has helped me better understand how governments at all levels continue to disenfranchise Black and Brown Philadelphians. The battle for racial equity is underway, and I’m confident that this group will help us achieve it.” 

The Steering Committee’s role is to advise, inform, connect, and work to eliminate race-based disparities in Philadelphia communities and promote racial and social justice across institutions. The committee is staffed by senior City staff, who support the planning and implementation of reform, transformation and reconciliation strategies developed by the Steering Committee. The City’s internal work group that supports the committee is co-chaired by Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa, City Solicitor Marcel Pratt, and Acting Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Nefertiri Sickout. 

“The areas of focus for the City’s reform, transformation and reconciliation work mirror the Kenney Administration’s shared priorities: health, safety, quality education, and inclusive economic growth,” said Cynthia Figueroa, Deputy Mayor for the Office of Children and Families. “Our mission is to support the Steering Committee to ensure that its short- and long-term goals are achieved.” 

“If our local government is to have any meaningful success in addressing racial inequities and injustice, it cannot invoke self-reliant, siloed approaches to problem-solving,” said City Solicitor Marcel Pratt. “I am excited to work with so many extraordinary civic, business, community, and religious leaders who have committed themselves to working side-by-side with City officials while holding our government accountable.”

The first steps of the City’s internal work group were focused on establishing the committee membership and internal work group structure; identifying current priorities; developing shared goals; and drafting an action plan with immediate, short- and long-term recommendations for review by the Steering Committee. 

“I am grateful for the support and partnership of the Reconciliation Steering Committee as we embark on the challenging, yet necessary, work of dismantling structural racism here in Philadelphia. I am eager to draw viable connections to this work as the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion helps City departments to develop and implement their own racial equity strategies to improve internal operations, shift organizational culture and processes, and ensure more equitable outcomes and inclusive prosperity for communities of color, said Nefertiri Sickout, Acting Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer.

To date, the Steering Committee has met six times and set the following priorities for the first phase of its work: 

    1. Public Safety: Adopt and implement a comprehensive police reform agenda.
    2. Economy: Review the City budget, rebuild small businesses, and strengthen minority, women and disabled-owned businesses enterprises (M/W/DSBEs)
    3. Community Engagement and Reconciliation Process: Work collaboratively with the City and community partners to foster conversations between institutions and residents to address structural racism and racial inequity issues in Philadelphia.
    4. Health: Address COVID-19 racial and economic disparities.
Priority  Progress of as of July 20, 2020  
Public Safety
Economy  Budget Review: Increased City investments in the community and decreased direct funding in the Police Department.

  • The FY21 Budget passed by City Council on 6/25 reduced the PPD budget by $33 million and the Fire Department budget by $5.8 million from originally proposed FY21 levels. 
  • Restored some funding to the Housing Trust Fund, workforce development, adult education, the Cultural Fund, the African American Museum, and the Office of Immigrant Affairs. 

Small business and M/W/DSBE business rebuilding:

Community Engagement and Reconciliation Process
  • Hosted community engagement sessions led by City offices and local non-profits to address work associated with reconciliation and police reform. Examples include the Philadelphia Youth Commission, PCCY, the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and the Urban Affairs Coalition. 
  • Created a Community Engagement subcommittee to address the reconciliation conversations needed with the community. The launch of the community engagement is starting with faith leaders through community conversations entitled Law, Order and God.

Employee Engagement Process

  • Decided to engage the services of a consultant firm to initiate the conversation about racism and social injustice with the City’s workforce. 
  • Presented on Steering Committee progress and Citywide Racial Equity Strategy at an internal Equitable Engagement Collaborative session where it was discussed how City’s departments could contribute to close racial disparities in all communities. 

Public Landmarks: Review all public landmarks and street names.

  • Removed the Rizzo Statue. 
  • Initiated a public process for removal of the Christopher Columbus Statue.
  • Working with Mural Arts to recognize the voices of the protestors through a mural to depict images from the protest. This mural will be featured on MSB. The working title is “Crown.”

Public Holiday: 

  • Designated Juneteenth as an official City holiday for the first time on June 19, 2020. In order to make this permanent, additional steps must be taken, including Council legislation and a re-negotiation of all City holidays with the municipal unions. The administration will work to ensure Juneteenth continues to be an official City holiday. 
  • The Steering Committee will consult with PDPH on the development of its Racial Equity Response Plan to ensure more equitable responses in programs and services to underserved communities. 
  • Expanded testing sites to address the virus impact disparities in Black and Latino communities.

In addition to acting on the recommendations of the Steering Committee, the Administration will continue to pursue the plans laid out in Executive Order 1-20, which Mayor Kenney signed in January. The Executive Order announced the Administration’s citywide Racial Equity Strategy, its commitment to embedding racial equity as an explicit governing principle—a lens all City departments and agencies will use to assess how their operations, including policies and procedures, impact all Philadelphians, including people of color. Under the Executive Order, all City departments will be required, by the end of 2023, to conduct Racial Equity Assessments and create Racial Equity Action Plans. Departments will complete these assessments and action plans in a phased approach, beginning with the first cohort of departments in 2020.

The Steering Committee’s short- and long-term objectives will be released next month. Members of the public can sign up to receive updates from the Steering Committee. For more information about the City’s reform, transformation, and reconciliation work, visit