OPINION: Brian Sims, Stop Chasing the National Spotlight and Focus on the Gayborhood

State Rep. Brian Sims

State Rep. Brian Sims

If you frequent the Gayborhood, by now you’re aware of the ongoing conversations surrounding racial discrimination in the community. You’re most likely also familiar with the recent turmoil at the community’s leading LGBTQ nonprofit, Mazzoni Center. Regardless of your personal thoughts on these issues, you can’t ignore the impact both have had on the Gayborhood.

But oddly enough, it doesn’t appear as though our only openly gay state legislator finds these issues worthy of urgent concern. State Rep. Brian Sims, whose legislative district encompasses the Gayborhood, has been curiously hands-off when it comes to engaging in these public disputes in his own backyard. Read more »

Meet the Activist Who Protested Mazzoni With an HIV Meds Strike

Abdul-Aliy Muhammad. Photography by Louie Ortiz-Fonseca.

Abdul-Aliy Muhammad. Photography by Louie Ortiz-Fonseca.

Last Friday afternoon, after Mazzoni Center’s board of directors publicly reaffirmed its support of CEO/executive director Nurit Shein following a walkout by half of the nonprofit’s 138 full-time staffer members over concerns with her leadership, former Mazzoni employee and patient Abdul-Aliy Muhammad publicly vowed to refuse their HIV medication until she stepped down.

Just three days later, on Monday morning, Mazzoni announced a huge leadership shakeup — both Shein and board president Dr. Jimmy Ruiz had resigned. The organization has not commented on the reasons behind the board’s decision, but it would be hard to believe that Muhammad’s stance — which had already begun to gain national attention — had no part to play in the outcome. Read more »

More Than 60 Mazzoni Staffers Walk Out, Call on CEO Nurit Shein to Resign

Mazzoni Center staff members during a walkout. Photo by Ernest Owens

Mazzoni Center staff members during a walkout. Photo by Ernest Owens

A week after Dr. Robert Winn resigned as Mazzoni Center’s medical director following reports that he was the subject of an investigation, more than 60 full-time staffers of the nonprofit are now calling for executive director/CEO Nurit Shein to step down.

“Nurit Shein, resign!” said Anthony Leon, a youth education manager at Mazzoni, at the conclusion of a PCHR-mandated organization-wide training session on racial bias on Thursday morning. Staff members began to confront Shein over what they claimed was her lack of transparency surrounding the allegations against Dr. Winn and other internal issues. Former Mazzoni staff members were also present during the confrontation. Read more »

Robert Winn Resigns as Mazzoni Center’s Medical Director

Robert Winn | Image via Mazzoni Center's website.

Robert Winn | Image via Mazzoni Center’s website.

After a week of speculation and public outcry from community members over the suspension of Mazzoni Center medical director Dr. Robert Winn pending the outcome of an investigation, the nonprofit’s board confirmed his resignation on Friday morning. The announcement follows a private Mazzoni executive session board meeting held on Thursday night. Read more »

Mazzoni Center Staff Members Stage Walkout After Reports

Photo by Ernest Owens

Photo by Ernest Owens

On Tuesday afternoon, a day after G Philly reported that sources connected to Mazzoni Center claim that the organization’s medical director, Dr. Robert Winn, has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation, a group of the nonprofit’s employees participated in a protest walkout.

A heavy police presence shadowed roughly 30 staff members from Mazzoni’s headquarters at 21 South 12th Street to another Mazzoni office at 809 Locust Street. (The organization employs 139 people full time.) The walkout, organized by the Black and Brown Workers Collective (BBWC), included case managers, prevention facilitators, linkage-to-care assistants, and operational staff who departed their posts in response to a social media post made by BBWC co-founder and former Mazzoni staffer Abdul-Aliy Muhammad. None of Mazzoni’s medical providers participated. Read more »

Mazzoni Center’s Medical Director Is Under “Investigation,” Sources Claim

Robert Winn | Image via Mazzoni Center's website.

Robert Winn | Image via Mazzoni Center’s website.

After more than a week of rumors alleging that Mazzoni Center medical director Dr. Robert Winn has been absent from work without explanation, a Mazzoni spokesperson said on Monday that Winn is on “paid leave,” and two sources inside the organization further claim that he has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation.

“Winn is currently on a paid-leave suspension during an … investigation,” said a staff member who works closely with Mazzoni’s medical department and who requested anonymity. “He’s been gone for at least a week, and oddly there’s been no blast email sent out to inform staff.”

“Winn is suspended and staff has not been made aware,” said a second staff member, who also asked not to be identified. “There is an investigation happening right now.”

Neither source would characterize the nature or cause of the investigation, nor explain who is conducting it. Read more »

Michael Weiss, Two Others Resign From Mazzoni Center Board

Michael Weiss | Image via Mazzoni Center's website

Michael Weiss | Image via Mazzoni Center’s website

A week after it was revealed that Gayborhood bar owner and Democratic committeeman Michael Weiss was named — as “Business Owner #2” — in the 23-count federal indictment of District Attorney Seth Williams on corruption-related charges, Gayborhood nonprofit Mazzoni Center has confirmed to G Philly that he is no longer on the organization’s board.

A Mazzoni spokesperson sent the following statement: Read more »

OPINION: Michael Weiss Must Step Down From His Public Roles in the Gayborhood

Michael Weiss | Image via Mazzoni Center's website

Michael Weiss | Image via Mazzoni Center’s website

Michael Weiss is arguably one of the most powerful and politically connected men in the Gayborhood. He’s the co-owner of several popular bars (Woody’s, Rosewood Bar Lounge, and Voyeur), the board secretary of Mazzoni Center, a member of the Philadelphia LGBT Police Liaison Committee, an elected Democratic committeeman/treasurer for the city’s Eighth Ward, and a “special adviser” to District Attorney Seth Williams. Read more »

Protesters Disrupt Mazzoni’s “Justice In Action” Awards Luncheon

Screenshot of Abdul-Aliy Mohammad reading a list of demands to Nurit Shein and Michael Weiss.

Screenshot of Abdul-Aliy Mohammad reading a list of demands to Nurit Shein and Michael Weiss.

“Nurit Shein, resign!” was the catchphrase a dozen members of the intersectional activist group Black & Brown Workers Collective (BBWC) chanted on Friday during the Mazzoni Center’s eighth-annual “Justice in Action” event at the Loews hotel in Center City.

After posting a Change.org petition calling for the Mazzoni CEO to resign amid controversy surrounding her remarks following the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations Gayborhood racism report, Friday’s protest was an in-person confrontation in which the BBWC handed Mazzoni board members a list of their demands and spoke to Shein in person. The demands included Shein stepping down, Mazzoni medical director Dr. Robert Winn resigning, and Mazzoni allocating nonrestricted​ funds to “support therapy and other infrastructure to help former and current staff that have had an increase in need for therapeutic care due to workplace violence.” Read more »

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