Philly’s new LGBT director Helen ‘Nellie’ Fitzpatrick starts today

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Helen "Nellie" Fitzpatrick is the new director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs. (Shai Ben-Yaacov/WHYY)

Philadelphia has emerged as a national leader for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender law and policy.

Some say the city has gained momentum in these areas thanks, in part, to the Office of LGBT affairs. The office flourished under the leadership of the late Gloria Casarez, who died of cancer in October.

Now, former Assistant District Attorney Helen ‘Nellie’ Fitzpatrick is taking over as the city’s new Director of LGBT Affairs.

“I will start today with putting together what I hope to accomplish before the end of this administrtion,” said Fitzpatrick, “as well as meeting with various individuals who have been looking to establish again a connection with City Hall.”

Fitzpatrick says the scope of her job will be broad because the population she’ll serve is broad also.

“Quite often when people hear ‘LGBT’ and ‘Philadelphia,’ they think of Center City,” she said, “but our community is a very widespread and diverse community.”

Last year’s high-profile Center City attack on a gay couple, which sparked a debate over local tolerance of LGBT people in Philadelphia, is on Fitzpatrick’s mind.

“The most important thing to continue to grow upon is safety,” said Fitzpatrick, “whether that be walking on our streets, in protecting individuals based on how other people perceive them.”

Fitzpatrick starts as Director of LGBT Affairs today.

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