The Philadelphia assistant district attorney who has served as a liaison between the law enforcement and lesbian and gay communities is moving to City Hall.
Mayor Nutter announced Monday that Helen L. "Nellie" Fitzpatrick, 34, will be the city's new director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender affairs, effective Jan. 20.
Fitzpatrick will fill the seat left empty by Gloria Casarez, 42, who died in October of breast cancer. Casarez was the city's first director of LGBT affairs.
"I promise to work tirelessly to ensure the legacy of Gloria Casarez," Fitzpatrick said in a statement released by the mayor's office. "It is my goal that each and every member of our LGBTQ community feels welcome, represented, heard, recognized, respected, and appreciated within our city's government. As an out and proud lesbian and Philadelphian - I am here to serve, protect and share in the joy that is our citizenship in the great city of Philadelphia."
In an interview Monday, Fitzpatrick said, "It's important that we recognize the LGBT community is not just in Center City . . . it's extremely diverse."
While the Sept. 11 attack on a gay couple in Center City drew attention to such crimes, such incidents can happen anywhere, she said, adding that she wants stricter laws against hate crime.
"You have to send a message that that's not tolerated," she said.
In the Center City case, three people have been ordered to stand trial on aggravated assault, conspiracy, and related charges. They were not charged with hate crimes.
Fitzpatrick has been with the District Attorney's Office for six years, working in the family violence and sexual assault unit, and most recently in the Southwest Bureau, where she prosecuted armed robbery and weapons crimes.
As the LGBT liaison the last two years, she worked to strengthen ties between gays and the Police Department, and also was the point person on police investigations of crimes against gays. She hopes to continue her work with the Police Department while at City Hall.
"Nellie has a proven track record of coalition-building and getting stuff done. We are eager for the energy and enthusiasm that she will infuse into our diverse city, including prioritizing inclusiveness," Nutter said in a statement.