Kenney Appoints Deputy Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Josie B.H. Pickens as new Chief

PHILADELPHIA — Today, Mayor Jim Kenney accepted the resignation of Nefertiri Sickout, Chief Officer of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, effective November 16. In addition, Mayor Kenney has selected current Deputy Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Josie Pickens to replace Sickout upon her departure from the City. “Since the start of this administration, Nefertiri has played a critical role in implementing a racial equity framework across all City departments and cultivating a workforce that best reflects the diversity of Philadelphia communities. Her leadership and advocacy brought us several steps closer to achieving a city that truly serves everyone. The organizational work she has led is not easy, and I am grateful for her efforts and vision, and excited to see her embark on the next step in her career where I know she will continue to make a great impact,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “I am also pleased to select Josie B.H. Pickens, Deputy Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, to continue building on the successful efforts of this office—implementing crucial changes in how we deliver equitable services and programs. There is much more work to be done, but I am confident in her leadership and admire her unwavering commitment to this work.”Beginning next month, Sickout will join the organization Share Our Strength as Senior Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, where she will support a mission to end hunger and poverty and provide organization-wide leadership to foster and champion an inclusive workplace culture.Sickout joined the Mayor’s Office in August 2016 as an Assistant Diversity and Inclusion Officer and later, as a Deputy Diversity and Inclusion Officer. In March 2020, She became Acting Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and was appointed to the role in April 2021. In this role, Sickout formalized the City of Philadelphia’s Racial Equity Strategy, an effort to embed racial equity as a governing principle and reduce racial disparities by requiring all City departments to complete a comprehensive assessment of policies, practices, and programs. To date, 23 City departments have completed an action plan.“It has been an honor and privilege to serve the City of Philadelphia alongside Mayor Kenney and to push forward this administration’s bold efforts to create a place where race, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, income, or zip code are not a determinant of success, and to ensure that much of this work begins within city government. I am proud of all that we have accomplished under Philadelphia’s Racial Equity Strategy and look forward to seeing other departments finalize their action plans after my departure,” said Nefertiri Sickout. “I trust that Josie will successfully carry this work forward. Over the last year, she has done a tremendous job managing the execution of our office’s strategic plan to integrate diversity, racial equity, and inclusion principles into City operations, initiatives, and services, and she has carefully tracked our progress and impact. She has the knowledge, drive, and skill set to continue making strides on this front.”Sickout also worked to support the Office of Economic Opportunity’s efforts to increase diverse participation in city contracts, and elevate the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities efforts to ensure accessibility of city services, as well as the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs goal to foster equitable working and living conditions for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people.“I am honored and humbled to lead the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and continue working with our City departments to evaluate, develop, and implement policies and programs that serve all Philadelphians,” said Josie B.H. Pickens. “I want to thank Mayor Kenney for this opportunity and Nefertiri for her leadership and guidance.”Pickens has served as Deputy Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer in the Mayor’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion since December 2021. As Deputy, she managed the operations of the office and implemented systems to measure the City’s DEI performance. Before joining the City, Pickens was a Supervising Attorney and Co-Director of the Energy Unit at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia where she led advocacy to improve energy affordability and equitable access to utility customer assistance programs. Pickens represented hundreds of low-income Philadelphia residents in legal disputes to preserve life-essential water and utility services to their homes. She holds degrees from Temple University, Beasley School of Law, and the University of California, Berkeley. Pickens was born and raised in Philadelphia and is a proud graduate of Overbrook High School.   Sickout’s resignation is effective on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, and Pickens will begin serving as Chief Officer of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion immediately thereafter.Headshots for Sickout and Pickens are available for download online.