Activists Launch Petition Calling on Mazzoni CEO, Other Leaders to Resign
The Black and Brown Workers Cooperative wants Lydia Gonzales Sciarrino and other members of the nonprofit health provider’s leadership team, including its board president, to step down after recent staff turmoil.
This story has been updated with a statement from Mazzoni Center.
A week after 82 front-line staffers from Mazzoni Center signed a “call to action” petition criticizing workplace conditions at the controversial nonprofit LGBTQ health provider, more than 100 people have signed a newly created a Change.org petition to support their efforts.
The supporting petition was created on Tuesday morning by the intersectional activist group Black and Brown Workers Cooperative, which is calling on Mazzoni’s CEO Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino, COO Ron Powers, HR director Patricia Dunne, development director Perry Monastero, communications director Larry Benjamin, and board president Christopher Pope to resign.
“There is no doubt that the board of directors as a whole and the senior leadership of Mazzoni is not just incapable of leading but their governance also betrays the very mission of providing ‘quality comprehensive health and wellness services,’” the petition reads. “This creates an environment that isn’t able to provide the kind of critical services to the most marginalized in our community. That means that Black and Brown trans community members, poz patients and disabled patients are entering a space that is becoming less intentional and not a safe(r) space for care.”
In addition to making calls for senior-level resignations, the petition also demands “mandatory anti-oppression trainings” and that Kay Martinez, Mazzoni’s recently fired diversity, equity and inclusion director, be reinstated.
A Mazzoni Center spokesperson sent the following statement to Philadelphia magazine:
Mazzoni Center has been experiencing organizational challenges stemming from an unfortunate period of controversies and leadership changes over the past two years and a series of events in August that led, in part, to the termination of the organization’s Director of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion.
Our board and leadership are actively working to address this situation, including the staffing of a role to accomplish our essential diversity, equity and inclusion goals to ensure that Mazzoni Center is an inclusive and safe space—defined as free of bias, conflict, criticism, or potentially threatening actions, ideas or conversations—for ALL employees, patients and LGBTQ communities.
Mazzoni Center has a number of activities planned to address these issues directly with staff, and we are committed to improving the culture and staff morale of our organization. As we continue to work together on these crucial measures to help improve the quality of our workplace and our services, we are hopeful all employees will engage openly with our efforts. That will ultimately allow us to continue to realize our mission and continue providing essential services to the LGBTQ communities in Philadelphia.
“It was a series of bad decisions that led to a staff walkout after the firing of Mazzoni’s director of diversity and inclusion and a petition of 82 front-line staff, which states that over half of the employees have no confidence in the current leadership of Mazzoni Center,” said BBWC co-founder Abdul-Aliy Muhammad. “These demands were informed by current and past Mazzoni staff, their patients, and the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative.”
This is not the first time the BBWC has publicly supported Mazzoni Center front-line staff. In January 2017, the activist group launched a successful Change.org petition calling for the resignations of then-CEO Nurit Shein and medical director Robert Winn. The group’s continued actions led to helping frontline staff mobilize a massive employee walkout that eventually led to the resignations of Shein, Winn, and then-board president Jimmy Ruiz.