Mazzoni to Honor Councilwoman

Blondell Reynolds Brown to receive the Justice in Action Award on March 6

Mazzoni Center Legal Services is not only introducing its new legal director next month, but the group will also honor Philadelphia City Councilwoman At-Large Blondell Reynolds Brown at the third annual Open Bar event (March 6 starting at 5:30 p.m.) at Opa (1311 Sansom Street). The event invites legal professionals, law students and others in the LGBT community to raise funds and awareness for the program, which provides direct legal assistance for individuals facing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Courtesy of the Office of Blondell Reynolds Brown

“We’re thrilled to be honoring the councilwoman for legislative and advocacy efforts on behalf of our community,” says Mazzoni Center Executive Director Nurit L. Shein. “Her work has advanced the cause of civil rights and non-discrimination in the City of Philadelphia, and sent an important message about fairness and equity under the law.”

The agency will present the Mazzoni Center Justice in Action Award to Councilwoman Reynolds Brown “in recognition of her dedication and commitment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities in Philadelphia,” says the center in a statement.

Councilwoman Reynolds Brown has opposed using taxpayer dollars to subsidize the Boy Scouts headquarters after the organization announced that it would not allow openly gay scouts or leaders to serve.

She also co-sponsored a resolution for City Council to hold hearings on increasing anti-bullying policies in Philadelphia schools, and became the first elected official in the city to film an “It Gets Better” video in 2010. Most recently, she sponsored and gained passage of the Equal Benefits Bill that requires contractors working with the City of Philadelphia to extend the same employment benefits to life partners of its employees that they extend to spouses of married employees.

“I aim to use my work in City Council to create a better, more fair and inclusive city for all Philadelphians,” says Councilwoman Reynolds Brown. “To the extent that I can make a tangible, positive difference in the lives of our LGBT community, I am thrilled to do so.”

The center’s new Legal Director David M. Rosenblum will also be in attendance to discuss key legal victories and highlights from the past year.

Mazzoni Center’s Legal Services currently employs two staff lawyers and each semester it hosts a team of student interns from area law schools who assist with research and writing assignments and help to manage the growing number of intake calls. A 17-member Legal Advisory Board, consisting of legal practitioners and academics, also helps represent the organization.

“This is a particularly exciting time for Legal Services at Mazzoni Center,” says Rosenblum. “As we are growing in visibility within the LGBT and the legal communities, we are also building our capacity and expanding our vision of what the department can provide for the community.”