Mazzoni Center CEO Lydia Gonzales Sciarrino Resigns Following Months of Backlash

The LGBTQ nonprofit’s board of directors announced her end-of-year departure in an email to staff on Monday morning. Ron Powers, the longtime COO, is also leaving.

Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino

This is a developing story and may be updated at any time.

After less than a year on the job, Mazzoni Center CEO Lydia Gonzales Sciarrino is resigning, effective December 28th. Staff at the LGBTQ nonprofit were made aware of her impending departure via an email from its board of directors on Monday morning. Ron Powers, the organization’s longtime COO, will also leave on the same date.

The resignations come a year after the resignations of longtime CEO/executive director Nurit Shein and board president Dr. Jimmy Ruiz.

Since being named CEO in March 2018, Sciarrino has has faced ongoing criticism from Mazzoni staff and community members over concerns about her level of sensitivity as a cisgender straight woman leading a LGBTQ nonprofit. Sciarrino faced more backlash after the firing of Kay Martinez, Mazzoni Center’s first-ever director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Martinez would later file a complaint against the LGBTQ nonprofit with the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR), which is still under review.

In the email, Mazzoni’s board announced an interim leadership plan that will “employ a collaborative leadership model typically used during times of organization transition.” Mazzoni CFO Racquel Assaye will now oversee all finances, medical director Dr. Nancy Brisbon will oversee medical services, and care services director Alecia Manley will oversee operations as interim COO. Additionally, the board said that Mazzoni plans to to hire a new Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion director by January 31, 2019.

A Mazzoni Center spokesperson sent Philadelphia magazine the following statement:

Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino, CEO of Mazzoni Center, has resigned from the position effective December 28, 2018, and the Board of Directors has accepted her resignation. As leadership within the organization changes, Ron Powers, COO, has made the decision to pursue other opportunities, and has resigned from his position effective December 28. The Board thanks both Lydia and Ron for their time and commitment to Mazzoni Center and wishes them well in their future endeavors.

Mazzoni Center’s Board hired Sciarrino because of her proven track record of excellence in leading a health services agency. Sciarrino’s tenure has demonstrated, both to the Board, and to Sciarrino herself, that no single person can lead Mazzoni Center in the way our staff and communities need at this time.

The Board has approved employing, effective immediately, a collaborative, interim leadership model that draws on the talent and expertise within the organization. This model brings together some of Mazzoni Center’s leaders in finance, medical services and care services to lead the organization on an interim basis. This group will be advised by our human resources consultant, and by a new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, whom the Board has prioritized hiring by January 31, 2019.

Mazzoni Center’s Board is committed to listening to and working with staff, clients and other stakeholder groups to determine the right permanent leadership solution for Mazzoni Center moving forward. The organization’s staff and stakeholders have demonstrated time and again their strength and dedication during times of transition, and the Board is grateful for their perseverance. The Board looks forward to working together with our communities to collectively determine a path forward for our organization that will allow Mazzoni Center to thrive and grow.

As always, Mazzoni Center is committed to delivering comprehensive, high-quality and LGBTQ+ culturally competent client service through this time of transition and transformation.