ABOVE PHOTO: Amber Hikes (Photo: Facebook)
On Monday, the Kenney administration announced that Amber Hikes will take the helm of the Office of LGBT Affairs as Executive Director. She will begin this post on March 6th.
“My diverse experiences in the vibrant Philadelphia LGBTQ community first as a student, then as a professional, then as a business owner and finally as a community leader, afford me the unique opportunities to view LGBTQ community work in this city from multiple vantage points,” said Hikes. “I’m eager to serve my community during this pivotal time by increasing the accessibility of the Office, listening to community members and implementing initiatives to serve LGBTQ Philadelphians more efficiently and effectively.”
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Social Work Program, Hikes has served on the board of the William Way LGBT Community Center from 2011 through 2015, and was an organizer for the Philadelphia Dyke March from 2007-2015. She currently serves full-time as director of Upward Bound, a federally funded student service program at California State Long Beach providing education and resources to low income, underserved students. Hikes has worked with the national organization since 2009, and spearheaded the successful writing of a multimillion-dollar Department of Education grant to refund the Upward Bound program at the University of Pennsylvania for five years.
Additionally, Hikes organized seasonal community service events and fundraisers benefitting LGBTQ organizations such as GALAEI, William Way Community Center, Attic Youth Center, and ACLU-PA among many others.
“The lessons I learned in these organizations about representation, privilege, equality, and equity have shaped every step of my life,” said Hikes. “It was with these organizations and so many others that I discovered my passion for creating safer spaces and uniting people across our beautiful LGBTQ community.”
Helen Fitzpatrick is no longer serving as Executive Director, effective immediately.
“Mayor Kenney and I are committed to serving the needs of Philadelphia’s LGBT community,” said Nolan Atkinson, Chief Diversity Officer for the city, who oversees the Office of LGBT Affairs. “Nellie’s work to institutionalize this Office by pushing forward legislation to change the city’s charter helps make this possible, and we appreciate her laying the foundation for the focused community work that Amber will be doing moving forward.”
In her new role, Hikes will focus on community organizing and engagement, as well as inward facing policy work, both of which are in line with the mission of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, under which the LGBT Office sits. In setting the office’s agenda, the Office of LGBT Affairs will work with the new LGBT Commission.