On June 26, 2022, we welcomed Judi Rhee Alloway as the new Director of Multicultural Affairs at the Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs. We’re excited to introduce her to you.
Judi will serve as the public-facing official for issues, policies, and programs that impact African, Caribbean and Asian communities. She manages and serves as a liaison for the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs and the Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs. She leads the Office of Immigrant Affairs’ year-round cultural programming including Immigrant Heritage Month, Welcoming Week, Unity Cup, and Philadelphia Honors Diversity Flag Raising ceremonies.
We asked Judi some questions to get to know her better.
What brought you to working with the City?
Since hired by Mayor Nutter’s administration in 2010, I’ve been working with the Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (MCAPAA) and the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs (MCACIA) in various capacities as a co-founder of community organizer of an immigration coalition, contractor, appointed Commissioner, and now Director of Multicultural Affairs.
After a decade of advocating for immigrant communities in the private sector, to recent #BlackLivesMatter and #StopAAPIHate current events, I’ve decided to officially join our municipal government as a public servant and continue to create belonging for multicultural communities from inside the walls of City Hall.
What does “multicultural” mean to you?
To me, multiculturalism is the quintessential essence of being an American. Everyone has a culture, or a way of life derived from collective customs, beliefs, artistic, and intellectual achievements passed down from generation to generation.
As a WOC aka “women of culture”, I’ve been influenced by African American or Black music and film from popular culture, Latin music and food from my spiritual communities, European fashion and food from my families, and Native American legends and lore from my father.
As for cultural identity, I self-identify as Asian American, specifically American Korean, Irish, Pennsylvania Dutch, Polish, and Russian. I speak four languages: advanced Russian, intermediate Korean, basic Spanish, basic French, and of course, fluent in Philadelphian, if you know what I’m talking about.
I have traveled to, through, and lived in over 20 countries. I absolutely adore various cultures!
What do you do in your free time?
I’m a very spiritual person. As an adult child of addicts, I am devoted to my spiritual communities and in service to my recovery groups. Our Alloway family motto is “Dei dono sum quod sum” or “By the bounty of God I am what I am.”
As a certified yoga and meditation teacher, I love prayer, meditation, reading, yoga, music, international pescatarian cooking, kimchi, Kbeauty, Kdramas, Kmovies, Kpop, and dancing!
How do you explain Philadelphia to people new to the City?
Philadelphia is our city of neighborhoods, city of underdogs, city of immigrants, and our birthplace of our democracy. Self-identifying “your neighborhood” is part of your Philadelphiian cultural lineage.
My Irish Pennsylvania Dutch father was born and raised here in Philadelphia until a fire burned the family house forcing them to relocate to New Jersey. Staying true to his roots, he worked in Port Richmond since the 1990s, where the streets were deliciously fragrant with Irish pound cake and soda bread, Pennsylvania Dutch (German) baked apples and pretzels, Polish pierogis, and sauerkraut, and Italian sliced pizza and water ice.
As a fourth-generation Philadelphian, there’s no place like home! I’ve lived in different neighborhoods from Kensington to Brewerytown, love Irish potatoes, French fries, Mummers and Super Bowl LII Champions E-A-G-L-E-S!
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role?
As the incoming director of multicultural affairs at the Office of Immigrant Affairs, I hope to engage, educate, connect, and rebuild our diverse communities through fun events during Immigrant Heritage Month, Welcoming Week, and Unity Cup, thought-provoking discussions with our Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs, and multicultural programming through the PHL Honors Diversity Program and other cultural festivals.
I also want to hear from diverse immigrant communities! The Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) is seeking updates from your diverse communities. We seek to inclusively serve you and your communities better with your input. Complete our feedback form today!
I am PhillyProud to continue to openly welcome immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers with open arms, minds, and hearts.