Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week, Nurit Shein on the Mazzoni Center, the hard-working local organization that aims to “provide quality comprehensive health and wellness services in an LGBT-focused environment.”
Nurit Shein, CEO of Mazzoni Center.
Who are you? I’m Mazzoni Center CEO Nurit Shein, and I’ve been with the organization since 1995. We are Philadelphia’s home for LGBT health, legal, and wellness services. After nearly 20 years I am still excited to get up and go to work every day, because there’s always something new and interesting to dive into. I’m proud of my dynamic and talented staff, who provide caring, quality services and programs to our clients and patients, and have an impact on 35,000 people each year.
When was Mazzoni founded? 1979
What’s Mazzoni’s shining moment, to date? There are so many individual moments that stand out over my tenure here, many of them simple but powerful interactions between staff and clients. But in terms of major milestones, something I am especially proud of was the opportunity we had in February 2012 to partner with The White House Office of Public Engagement (OPE) and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) in presenting the first White House LGBT Conference on Health. The daylong symposium featured remarks by Secretary of Health & Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management John Berry, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, among others. It was the inaugural event in a series of conferences around the country specifically focused on LGBT Americans. It was truly a watershed moment, in terms of recognizing the importance of LGBT health. More than 300 health care professionals, community organizers, medical students, and community members from at least 22 states traveled to Philadelphia to attend the conference.
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If you’re a vegetarian, like me, you don’t really look forward to the centerpiece on the big ole’ Turkey Day meal (but, I’d be willing to bet that you do overload on mashed potatoes and that green bean casserole thingie). Instead, you’re plotting out your Thanksgiving week, which is notorious for parties, events, and festivities that you simply can’t pass up (just like that cranberry sauce in a can). We here at G Philly came up with our best bets of everything going on in gay Philly during the week of Thanksgiving, broken up in a day-by-day, easy to follow guide. Consider it your recipe for a holiday well-done. Read more »
Every hump day a Philly person shares their local picks for Woman Crush Wednesday. Today, local mover and shaker Samantha Jo Dato, who works at the Mazzoni Center to organize the annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference. She will soon publish a testimonial journal called Sami Jo Shattered Perfect, which she “hopes will reach trans* people near and far and inspire them to transform their narratives of struggle into stories of major success.”
Samantha Jo Dato
My name is Samantha, and these are my local picks for #WCW:
Dawn is and elder in the community who moves through the world without prejudices. She has been knocking on doors for her sisters and brothers for over 2o years, and has been a humble, stern fixture in the trans movement of Philadelphia for many people.
Tatyana Ali Woodard
Tatyana is the next generation of activism that moves with intent and purpose while being fashionable at the same time. She started her own fashion house, Xistence, in 2010, and joined Mazzoni Center's Trans* Wellness Project (TWP) in 2014 . Tatyana is a trans women of color to keep an eye on. She has only just begun.
This California transplant delivers real and straight-to-the-point facts to everyone she comes in contact with. Starting with TWP, she has quickly moved up the ladder at Mazzoni Center, where she recently began a new, amazing position in the Legal Department. This is the go-to girl for support and direction in legal matters.
With her enough-is-enough attitude, Deja will get to the bottom of whatever she puts her mind to. As a recent member of the LGBT Police Liaison, she continues to speak on behalf of trans women, dedicated to letting people know that their lives matter.
This GALAEI Trans* Health Information Project (TIP) co-coordinator is one trans women who has—and continues—to give her all, including the shirt off her back to help her sisters make it. With countless years in the field, she has become a safety net to local women in need of service and care.
Cashmere is a writer and peace-maker who is full of laughter, knowledge and compassion. She is telling her story in a book called Thoughts of a Tainted Heart, which will be published by 2015. Check her out on Facebook at Author Cashmere.
Share your Woman Crush Wednesday!
Here are the rules: (1) Name five to 10 ladies you’re crushing on (2) You and all women involved must be from Philadelphia (3) Email your crushes to email@example.com.
Our Last Five Woman Crush Wednesdays:
Mazzoni Center‘s Ally Safe Schools program has distilled its wealth of knowledge into a book, so educators and students alike can learn how to create or strengthen a Gay/Queer-Straight Alliance at their schools. These student-run clubs help raise awareness of LGBTQ issues, organize activities, provide support for each other, and/or create a safe space for LGBTQ students.
How to Build a FIERCE GSA is 22-pages in length, and filled with all kinds of tips that the Center hopes will help inspire healthy, vibrant GSAs across the region and nation. The small 4-by-6 guide is portable, so readers can keep it on hand for meetings and events. It’s so tiny—and adorable—it will fit in your pocket.
You may have seen Mazzoni handing out some of these at OutFest yesterday, but you can still get a free copy by downloading it here as a PDF or requesting a hard copy.
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Suddenly Fem, a fashion and lifestyle catalog that sells clothes and accessories to the cross-dresser and male-to-female transgender community, is all up in Philly this weekend. Not only will it be participating in tomorrow’s fourth annual Philly Trans* March, but the retailer has donated $5,000 worth of clothing to the Mazzoni Center—everything from dresses and heels to jackets and lingerie that are made to fit the male-to-female figure.
The donation will go to the Center’s Sisterly Love Trans* Wellness Project, which, among other things, seeks to help trans women succeed in the workforce. “The trans community has a high rate of unemployed people and many struggle to find the right professional outfit,” says the Mazzoni Center’s Samantha Jo-Dato. “We will make the clothing accessible to women in the trans community who are looking for jobs. We welcome them to stop by and pick out a couple amazing things for their wardrobes.”
That’s one of the goals of Suddenly Fem, too.
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Photo by Alexander John.
Five years ago Dr. Patrick Barrett began hosting a soiree in his apartment, where he’d ask guests to come in drag. He dubbed the party The Philly Beauty Ball, and it was apparently such a riot that it’s become become one of the year’s most-anticipated events. It’s a chance for those among us who are curious about drag but don’t want to glue on lashes and tuck our junk on a regular basis to see what we look like in a wig and a little rouge. But most importantly it’s a fun way to take part in the community and raise money for a good, local LGBT cause.
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It truly is Christmas in July for eight local LGBT non-profits who will benefit from a $32,000 grant from Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF.) The money will be divided between each organization, and used to fund a specific program within each group. DVLF Executive Director Samantha Giusti tells me the money comes from the organization’s 2014 LGBTQ Emerging Needs Grant. Benefactors are chosen by a panel of community members “who have a diverse array of lived experience and professional knowledge in a variety areas” based on best practices, benchmarks, outcomes, and financials, she says.
This year’s recipients are:
“Every year I am more impressed by the ingenuity displayed by our community members at creating innovative programming to meet emerging needs faced by LGBTQ people in our region,” says Giusti. “Less than .3 percent of the over 50 billion given annually by U.S. foundations goes to LGBTQ issues. It’s a grave statistic as it is neither representative of the size of our community nor it’s need. With these grants we hope that we can be responsive to the the emerging needs in our community.”
Mazzoni Center just released details about its 13th annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference (PTHC), which kicks off on June 12. The three-day gathering will play host to no less than 250 workshops, speaking engagements and activities meant to promote “the health and well-being of transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, as well as their families, friends, allies and providers.”
Organizers have attracted some big names this year, including Director of Policy at the National Center for Transgender Equality Harper Jean Tobin, Esq., who will lead a keynote address on Friday, June 13th, at 1 p.m., but one that will likely draw even more attention is Janet Mock. The fired-up activist and New York Times best-selling author of Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More made headlines recently when she sparred with Piers Morgan on his now-defunct talk show on CNN. She took the host to task for a litany of insensitive mentions he made about Mock’s identity on Twitter, proving that she is one cookie you don’t cross.
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Ahead of its town hall meeting on same-sex marriage tonight, the Mazzoni Center has released a sizable report laying out all the benefits marriage equality brings to us here in Pennsylvania — all 572 of them. The report, “How Marriage Counts: 572 Ways Marriage Counts in Pennslyvania, “summarizes the legal benefits and obligations conveyed by state-recognized marriage, identifying 572 individual statutory provisions that afford rights or create obligations based on marital status or otherwise pertain to an individual’s marital status.”
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