Mayor-elect Jim Kenney on Wednesday announced four more members of his leadership team, including a prekindergarten director charged with carrying out his promise to provide "universal" free pre-K in Philadelphia by the end of his first term.
Anne Gemmell, an educator and activist, was named to the newly created post. Kenney also introduced picks for deputy mayor for public engagement, chief service officer, and LGBT affairs director.
Kenney campaigned on a universal pre-K platform, and has said the $60 million initiative will be included in his first budgeting process and start to unfold next fall.
He called Gemmell - a former teacher in Philadelphia public schools and in the Mastery Charter organization - a "bomb thrower" who taught him the importance of pre-K with her "undying advocacy."
Gemmell most recently headed the regional Pre-K for PA campaign but has also worked as political director with Fight for Philly, a union-affiliated grassroots group that focuses on income inequality and job creation.
"This initiative and this vision of having every child arrive in kindergarten ready to roll, ready to flex their potential, ready to thrive, is something that everyone is excited about," Gemmell said. "Every community, every neighborhood, kindergarten teachers especially, elected leaders, the private sector, they want to figure out how to make this happen."
Nina Ahmad was named deputy mayor for public engagement, another new position. She will oversee commissions and offices on constituent-specific issues such as LGBT affairs and black male engagement.
Ahmad, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women and a member of a commission advising President Obama on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, has been in the spotlight recently as a critic of District Attorney Seth Williams' handling of the Porngate scandal.
Kenney said she was "almost perfectly suited" for the post. "She'll actually make you do things you don't want to do," he said.
Ahmad said the office would "serve as a conduit" ensuring city resources are available to all Philadelphians.
"We will deliver top-notch service and help break down silos within the city," she said.
Helen "Nellie" Fitzpatrick was named director of the Office of LGBT Affairs, a post she was appointed to by Mayor Nutter this year. Kenney stressed that he wants Fitzpatrick to focus on Philadelphia's transgender community.
"I will say right here and right now that the LGB has been very much taken care of," Kenney said. "But the T community needs to be recognized."
Stephanie Monahon, director of the Pennsylvania Public Interest Research Group, was named Kenney's chief service officer, a position that oversees volunteer programs. In her current job, Monahan oversees programs to protect consumers, preserve public health, and reduce the influence of special interests.
Monahon said she was thrilled to work under a leader such as Kenney, whose vision for the city is rooted in his Jesuit education and a "belief you are only truly happy if you're living a life of service to others."