PHILADELPHIA – Today, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the departure of Reverend Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Director of Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs, who is leaving City government to join social justice thinktank, Political Research Associates, effective April 20.

“Over the last several years, Naomi has played a critical role in grounding the work of City government in moral clarity and ensuring that Philadelphia’s diverse faith communities have a seat at the table, particularly, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “We are grateful for her leadership and dedication to service.”

Washington-Leapheart joined the Mayor’s Office in 2019 as Director for Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs for the City of Philadelphia. In this role, she served as a public-facing leader, liaison, and subject matter expert for the Mayor’s Office on local and national matters that impact diverse communities of faith.

“I have been reminded time and time again to never let a crisis go to waste – to let it transform you and then do the work of creating transformation around you. No one could have predicted that six months into my tenure as Director for Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs, our city would face the biggest constellation of crises in recent memory. COVID-19, economic volatility, and chronic loss and rage produced by ongoing communal and political violence forced us to re-consider everything,” said Reverend Naomi Washington-Leapheart. “I am honored to have had the opportunity and challenge of leading during such difficult and historic times. I have tried not to waste this moment. I have deeply enjoyed working with people of faith all over the city and region and alongside some of the best leaders in City Hall.”

Washington-Leapheart played a fundamental role in establishing the first-ever Mayor’s Commission for Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs, a body of two dozen leaders from seven different spiritual and religious traditions who have engaged hundreds of people of faith in conversations and strategic planning for economic justice through reparations for Black Philadelphians. She also designed several unique engagement opportunities for residents including “Prayer Pause,” an initiative that invites residents to weekly prayer with local faith leaders; the Longest Night PHL, an annual event dedicated to nourishing residents who feel overwhelmed by grief, anger, and other complex emotions during the winter holiday seasons; and other healing-centered trauma-informed events that provide support to victims of violence.

“Naomi’s ability to hold the complexity of our times and be a beacon of hope and light for so many across our city has been a gift,” said Romana Lee-Akiyama, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement. “She has led with compassion and care, never losing sight of justice and the belief that we as Philadelphians can do better for each other.”

The Mayor’s Commission on Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs will continue to serve as the bridge through which our diverse faith communities in Philadelphia can regularly engage with the City. Housed within the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, the Commission is co-chaired by Lucy Duncan and Imam Quaiser Abdullah. Questions directed to the Commission and their projects for the remainder of 2023 can be sent to

Washington-Leapheart’s resignation is effective today, April 20, 2023.

A headshot for Washington-Leapheart is available for download online.