Mazzoni Center Board President Christopher Pope Resigns

Pope’s departure after a year as president leaves a nine-person board that, for the first time, has a majority of members of color.

Mazzoni Center | Courtesy of Mazzoni Center

Just weeks after the resignations of Mazzoni Center CEO Lydia Gonzales Sciarrino and COO Ron Powers, Mazzoni board president Christopher Pope has announced his own resignation, effective immediately.

Pope’s resignation comes a year after the resignation of his predecessor, Dr. Jimmy Ruiz, which closely followed the departure of longtime Mazzoni CEO/executive director Nurit Shein.

Since being named board president in 2017, Pope has faced ongoing criticism from Mazzoni staff and community members over concerns about his role in addressing diversity issues at the LGBTQ nonprofit. Pope’s leadership faced more backlash following the firing of Kay Martinez, Mazzoni Center’s first-ever director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

“I have been committed to Mazzoni Center for several years and worked with leadership to guide the organization through a difficult period,” Pope said to Philadelphia magazine. “Now with an interim leadership team in place, I decided to step aside and turn my focus to my family, who has had to share my attention for some years. I have complete confidence in Mazzoni Center’s board and the organization’s leadership and look forward to continuing to support both.”

Pope’s deaprture leaves Mazzoni’s board with nine members, a majority of whom are of color.

A Mazzoni Center spokesperson sent Philadelphia magazine the following statement:

As the Mazzoni Board is moving forward with the process of identifying a long-term leadership solution, Chris Pope decided to resign from his position as Board President. Vice President Nu’Rodney Prad will lead the board during this time of transition. Nu’Rodney has essential expertise in the areas of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion that the board believes will help to advance the organization.

Chris felt that his resignation was a logical follow up to the October retirement of five legacy board members, to which the board committed in 2017. Chris will remain as a non-voting advisor to the board to transfer institutional knowledge and to ensure a smooth transition of leadership at both the board and the organizational level. Nu’Rodney and the board thank Chris for his years of leadership and for his continued support in an advisory capacity.