The Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart is the city’s new Director for Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs. — TRIBUNE FILE

The Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement on Wednesday announced the hiring of the Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart, Director for Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs. Reverend Washington-Leapheart will step into this role starting Sunday, Oct. 7.

As Director for Faith-Based and Interfaith Affairs, Washington-Leapheart will serve 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.

She will also manage the forthcoming Mayor’s Commission on Interfaith Affairs.

“City government must establish and maintain strong connections with our constituents,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “The Office of Public Engagement, the offices housed within it, and their advisory commissions are among our greatest tools for sharing information with residents and getting input from them on sensitive issues. In Philadelphia, faith-based communities are essential to the fabric of our city. They are often on the forefront of many issues that impact Philadelphians and where congregants turn to for resources of all kinds. Our communities of faith are vital to our collective success. I am thrilled to welcome Reverend Naomi to the administration and look forward to working with her.”

The position will be housed within the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement, which is charged with improving the city’s community outreach and engagement efforts.

The office is charged with helping to make city government accessible to citizens and to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.

“Faith-based communities are a critical element of our city—they are dedicated to the lives and well-being of their congregants, they are on the front lines meeting the needs of the most marginalized, and they have been crucial in driving initiatives to tackle major issues impacting Philadelphia,” said Ajeenah Amir, Director for the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement. “I’m excited to have Reverend Naomi lead our faith-based outreach work because her experience brings a truly intersectional approach to the role. Naomi will be an excellent addition to our team as we work to strengthen connections between Philadelphians of all backgrounds and City government.”

Washington-Leapheart is an adjunct professor of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University.

Most recently, she served as the Faith Work Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, the country’s oldest national LGBTQ justice and equality group. In that role, she coordinated the Task Force’s public faith messaging and advocacy and leadership development work in faith communities.

Before joining the Task Force, Washington-Leapheart was a faith organizer for POWER, a multi-faith, multi-racial network of congregations in Southeastern and Central Pennsylvania. She also served as Co-Pastor and Minister of Music at Wisdom’s Table at St. Peter’s United Church of Christ. An ordained minister, she earned her Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary in 2016 and is proudly affiliated with the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries.

Since 2016, Washington-Leapheart has been a member of the Faith and Spiritual Affairs Advisory Board of the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services. In 2017, she was appointed to the Mayor’s Commission on LGBT Affairs.

“It is a great honor to join the Kenney administration in this new, challenging role,” Washington-Leapheart said. “I want to ensure that Philadelphia’s diverse faith communities have a seat at the table as decisions are being made and that they can help connect their members to information and resources available from the city.”

Washington-Leapheart was recently named a LGBTQ Faith Leader to Watch in 2019 by the Center for American Progress and as one of The Root 100.

Contact Johann Calhoun at newseditor@phillytrib.com or call at (215) 893-5739

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