PHILADELPHIA, February 9, 2015 – Today the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations expanded its ranks by two, adding an area businesswoman and a civil rights and youth advocate.
The swearing in of Shalimar Thomas and Wei Chen on Friday will round out the commission’s complement, bringing it to a full nine members. The Hon. Ida K. Chen will administer the oath of office.
Thomas, founder of a boutique public relations firm, leads the African-American Chamber of Commerce of PA, NJ and DE as its executive director. Her chief responsibilities lie in education about and advocacy on behalf of expanded development and opportunities for black-owned businesses in the region. Thomas is engaged in a number of charitable activities related to the advancement of families and entrepreneurs, including the board of New Media Technology Charter School and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc. – Pennsylvania chapter.
Wei Chen rose to prominence as a South Philadelphia High School student turned activist after racial strife between African-American and immigrant Asian students boiled into bullying and violence. His voice helped elevated the cause of an unheard and long suffering student population. The recipient of a Peace First Prize fellowship, he serves as a youth organizers for Asian Americans United and on the board of Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia.
“We are excited to bring these commissioners aboard, to add their perspective into the mix as we explore ways to widen our reach and deepen our footprint,” said Rue Landau, PCHR executive director. “The mayor has appointed two dedicated people who speak to and deliver viewpoints from valued constituencies whose input will help refine the work we do.”
This spring, PCHR will launch an initiative examining the socioeconomic impact of cyclical change in a Philadelphia that is redeveloping rapidly. In April, the agency will host the 2015 PCHR Awards, spotlighting individuals and organizations positively impacting civil rights, human relations and quality of life in Philadelphia.
PCHR is the agency charged with diffusing inter-group conflict within the city and ensuring fair dealings in employment, housing, public accommodations and real estate, as outlined in the city’s Fair Practices Ordinance, Philadelphia’s guiding civil rights legislation.
Learn more by calling (215) 686-4670 or visiting www.phila.gov/humanrelations.