PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney today announced that Kia Ghee will become the new Executive Director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR), effective June 21, 2021. Kia, who currently serves as Deputy City Solicitor at the City of Philadelphia’s Law Department in the Labor and Employment Unit, will succeed Randy Duque, who has served as Acting Executive Director of PCHR since December 2020 when Rue Landau left the City.
“The mission of PCHR remains as important as ever, and when looking for someone to lead this critical work, I was seeking a strong legal mind who could defend, enforce, and protect our City’s anti-discrimination measures at all costs,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Over the years, we’ve seen how important these local laws are as some politicians have attempted to chip away at the rights of our most marginalized communities. In Kia, I’m confident that all Philadelphians will have a steadfast advocate who will fiercely protect and defend their civil rights.”
The Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations is the City’s official civil rights agency. It is responsible for enforcing laws that prevent discrimination and promote equality, namely the City’s Fair Practices Ordinance. The PCHR also investigates complaints of discrimination and violations of civil rights law, in addition to resolving community conflicts.
“Throughout my entire career, I have worked tirelessly to advance principles of fairness in justice and I have stood strong for equality every step of the way,” said Kia Ghee. “I’m incredibly proud and humbled by Mayor Kenney’s decision to appoint me as the next Executive Director and I look forward to leading the fight against all forms of discrimination and serving the people of Philadelphia.”
As Executive Director, Kia will also lead the Fair Housing Commission (FHC), which is the City agency charged with addressing unfair rental practices in housing and other landlord-tenant disputes. The FHC enforces the Philadelphia Fair Housing Ordinance, which prohibits certain unfair rental practices by landlords against tenants and gives the Commission the authority to address unsafe and unhealthy conditions in rental properties.
“Ms. Ghee is a dynamic and well-rounded leader who is more than able to continue moving the PCHR in the right direction,” said Shalimar Thomas, PCHR Chair. “We are excited to have her lead this organization and the much-needed work of enforcing and protecting our civil rights.”
Kia is a lifelong Philadelphian with years of experience working as a social justice advocate. For the past five years, she has served as legal counsel for the City of Philadelphia and has represented the City in complex employment discrimination lawsuits. She notably obtained a jury verdict on behalf of the City in a case challenging the Mayor’s Diversity Initiative, a victory that saved taxpayers upwards of $2.7 million dollars and helped lay the foundation for the City’s litigation strategy in several other lawsuits.
Kia obtained her J.D. from Drexel University Law School in Philadelphia. Prior to embarking on her legal career, she had a 12-year career as a program administrator who championed the need for comprehensive healthcare and social services to low-income children and families in Philadelphia. Kia received her Bachelor’s degree from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina before obtaining her Master’s degree in Public Health at West Chester University in Pennsylvania.
Randy Duque, who has served as Acting Executive Director and was the first Asian American to lead the agency, will be returning to his former role as Deputy Director for PCHR’s Community Relations Division. Under his leadership, PCHR collaborated on the development of several bills to ensure fair and equal protections in obtaining housing and also testified in support of the prohibition of screening for marijuana use as a condition of gainful employment. In addition, Duque provided critical service and support to address concerns in the recent spike of anti-Asian hate and violence. Duque, who has been with PCHR since 2014, will continue to work on various collaborative issues with organizations from the grassroots to federal levels, including civil rights and race relations, immigrant and refugee issues, victim services, anti-violence initiatives, police-community relations, conflict intervention, and issues relating to changing neighborhoods. He will also continue leading the City’s efforts to track and respond to hate and bias.
Kia Ghee’s headshot is available HERE and can be used for publication.
Randy Duque’s headshot is available HERE and can be used for publication.