PHILADELPHIA — Mayor Jim Kenney today accepted the resignation of Chief of Staff James Engler and announced the appointment of Christina Pastrana Hernandez, currently First Deputy Chief of Staff, to succeed Engler as Chief of Staff.
“While I accept Jim Engler’s resignation with great regret, I’m also pleased to see him take on an exciting new opportunity, one that aligns with his passions and experience. I have known Jim for over 15 years, and he has always been the consummate professional and measured leader that provided invaluable guidance and strategic thinking as we tackled critical issues facing our city,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Since he joined our administration, first as Deputy Mayor for Policy and Legislation and later serving as Chief of Staff for just over four years, he has provided a steady hand in helping lead Philadelphia through some of its biggest challenges in modern history, including: a once-in-a-century global pandemic, a tumultuous Presidential Election decided by Philadelphia voters, and civil unrest following the country’s long overdue racial reckoning. I will miss Jim’s insight and unwavering discipline, but I am confident that he has built a strong foundation that will allow our administration to build on the major successes during the final 15 months of my term.”
Beginning next month, Engler will join ChristianaCare as Executive Director of the Office of the President and Chief of Staff.
“I’m also thrilled to select Christina Hernandez as my new Chief of Staff,” said the Mayor. “Throughout my career in public service, I have always worked hard to attract the smartest and most talented staff, and recognize the need to empower them and listen to them. Christina exemplifies this, as her expertise and advice has been an incredible asset to our Administration since she first joined in February 2016 as Assistant Director of Legislation. Over nearly the past seven years, I’ve come to depend on her advice and judgment on the complex issues facing Philadelphians, and she garners the same respect from her colleagues across the City. She acutely understands the needs of every neighborhood and community across Philadelphia and her intellect, enthusiasm, and attention to detail are unmatched. I’m confident that as Chief of Staff, Christina will tackle Philadelphia’s greatest challenges with the same dedication and passion that she has demonstrated throughout her entire career.”
Engler has served as a senior advisor to the Mayor since the beginning of his term in office. He first served as Deputy Mayor for Policy and Legislation beginning in January 2016 before being elevated to Chief of Staff in 2018. Since then, Engler served as a senior liaison between the Mayor’s Office and City Council, helping secure passage of key legislative priorities, like the Philadelphia Beverage Tax—making Philadelphia the first major city to pass a beverage tax to fund anti-poverty initiatives including expansion of quality pre-k, creation of community schools, and the City’s Rebuild program. Engler was also responsible for developing the Administration’s policy priorities and working with stakeholders inside and outside of government to advance those goals. Additionally, Engler has served as the Mayor’s appointee to the Philadelphia Facilities Management Corporation, the Board that oversees the Philadelphia Gas Works. In addition to his work supporting the Administration’s affordable housing, economic development, environmental, labor, and welcoming immigration policies, Engler has been at the center of some of the biggest challenges of the past several years. He was instrumental in the City’s initial and long-term response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and helped successfully manage the end to 17 years of state control of Philadelphia schools and transitioned the School District of Philadelphia to local control with a Mayoral-appointed Board.
“It has been an absolute honor to serve the City and Mayor Kenney, whose passion for Philadelphia’s most vulnerable communities and commitment to improving the lives of all Philadelphians has inspired me every day. I will miss serving in his administration alongside so many dedicated public servants who care deeply for our city and its residents,” said Jim Engler. “Of all those public servants, I would be hard pressed to find one more thoughtful and selfless than Christina Pastrana Hernandez. I am confident she will continue to push this administration to accomplish the bold goals laid out by Mayor Kenney, and help ensure Philadelphia becomes the fairer, more equitable and inclusive city that we all envision.”
“It has been a true pleasure and the honor of my career to serve with, and learn from, Jim Engler over the past six and half years. Jim’s steadfast leadership in the face of adversity and crisis has been exemplary and I will miss working with him. I know his impact on City government will be felt for years to come,” said Christina Pastrana Hernandez. “I am also honored and humbled to be selected by Mayor Kenney to continue to serve our great city and its people in this new role. I look forward to continuing to work with the dedicated members of City government, and stakeholders across the City, to advance our goals and impact in the coming months ahead.”
Hernandez joined the Administration in February 2016, first serving as Assistant Director of Legislation, and later Director of Legislation—a role she held until October 2020—where she oversaw the Mayor’s legislative agenda with a focus on local legislative priorities and served as a senior advisor on policy matters. As First Deputy Chief of Staff, she currently oversees the Mayor’s Office of Legislative Affairs in their efforts to advocate Administration priorities on the local, state and federal levels and serves as the Administration’s liaison for a portfolio of departments including Finance, Law, and the Public Safety cluster in the Managing Director’s Office. Before joining the Administration, she served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, working closely in its South Division, Government Fraud Unit, and Diversion Unit. Hernandez is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and the Beasley School of Law at Temple University. She also completed a Leading for Change Fellowship from Drexel University’s Lebow College of Business.
Engler’s resignation is effective on Friday, September 30, 2022 and Hernandez will begin serving as Chief of Staff immediately thereafter.
Headshots for Engler and Hernandez are available for download online.