Gloria Casarez, who became Philadelphia's first director of the city's Office of LGBT Affairs when Mayor Michael Nutter appointed her to a newly created post in 2008, died this weekend after a long battle with cancer, according to a statement from the city Sunday. She was 42.

Casarez, in her role as the head of the Mayor's Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs, also helped establish the Mayor's Advisory Board on LGBT Affairs.

"Gloria was a fun, serious, strong and kind person who always wanted to do more for others and who fought for equality of rights for all people," Nutter said in the statement. "She was a clear, strong voice to the LGBTQ community in Philadelphia and across America."

Born in Philadelphia, Casarez was a founding member of housing rights organization Empty the Shelters before becoming a coordinator for the LGBT Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

Casarez served as executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative in Philadelphia for nearly a decade, beginning in 1999.

During her time at the city's LGBT Office, she is credited with developing policies that helped launch Philadelphia to a number two ranking in LGBT equality in the first edition of the Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index.

She garnered numerous awards and recognitions during her tenure, including an annual Community Service Award from the NAACP, the Cheryl Ingram Advocate for Justice Award from the Philadelphia Bar Association and the Kiyoshi Kuromiya Award for Justice from Philadelphia FIGHT.

"Our prayers are with her, her wife Trish, and their families," Nutter said. "I am deeply, personally saddened by our Administrations' loss of such a valued colleague, but our entire Administration team has benefitted from having had the opportunity to serve our City and citizens with the support of her leadership and wisdom."