District Attorney Larry Krasner has named civil rights and faith leader Gregory Holston to serve as Senior Advisor on Advocacy and Policy for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (DAO).
The former executive director of POWER Philadelphia, an interfaith-based justice advocacy organization, Holston will work to strengthen relationships, build trust, and improve cooperation among Philadelphia communities in partnership with civic, government, and law enforcement officials.
Internally, Holston will advise DAO employees on ways to integrate social justice best practices and community-based policies and procedures into their work. Externally, he will work to advance the mission of the DAO to make the criminal justice system in Philadelphia more accessible and accountable, in order to build public trust in law enforcement, the DAO, and the court system.
“As we work to improve public safety in a fair and equitable way, and to reverse decades of harm done by public institutions to historically underserved communities, we must also more directly address the conditions that are conducive to law-breaking and violence,” Krasner said. “I’m glad Gregory Holston is with us. I’m excited about his internal and external advocacy. All of us in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office will benefit from his passion and love for his fellow Philadelphians.”
Holston previously served as executive director of POWER: Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild, where he oversaw the organization’s operations, membership, and advocacy for causes including fair and equitable funding for Philadelphia public schools, a $15 minimum wage for workers, gun violence prevention, and police accountability.
“It doesn’t get more grassroots than Gregory Holston,” said Councilmember Curtis Jones, Jr., chair of the Philadelphia City Council Committee on Public Safety. “He’s been a source of quality information, such as the million-dollar block where he documented all of the taxpayer dollars spent on crime and punishment, which totaled $1 million. Good choice.”
“Every day, I’m inspired by the fact that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office employs some of the best and brightest advocates, lawyers, and professionals in the criminal justice system,” Holston said. “Our mission is to both acknowledge and address racial and economic injustice in Philadelphia, to ensure all Philadelphians have a reasonable expectation of safety regardless of income or zip code, and to transform our criminal justice system into an entity that supports all people, regardless of their social status, skin color, nation of origin, or who they love.”
“Gregory Holston’s passion for justice and fairness has always been an inspiration to me,” said the Rev. Jay Broadnax, pastor of the Mt.Pisgah AME Church. “He is an unrelenting advocate for the oppressed who understands the impact of poverty on underserved communities. I think his voice on matters of criminal justice is one that is sorely needed.”
“Gregory Holston is uniquely qualified for this position. He has deep connections with a wide swath of communities in our city, he understands the inequities and challenges of the justice system, and is a superb communicator,” said Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, faculty emeritus, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. “He grew up in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia and he brings to this position a deep love for its people.”
Holston currently serves as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. He holds a juris doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center, a Masters of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary, a Masters of Education from Cheney University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He and his wife of 33 years have four children and one grandchild.