Sultan Shakir named Mazzoni Center’s new Chief Executive

Sultan Shakir
Executive Director of PhillyGayCalendar

After a nearly year-long assessment, transition study, and national search process,

After a nearly year-long assessment, transition study, and national search process, Sultan Shakir (he/him) has been named Mazzoni Center’s new chief executive. Sultan was selected from a group of exceptionally qualified and diverse LGBTQ+ leaders, representing the full diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.

Sultan has a 20-year history of work and leadership in the LGBTQ movement and a track record of organizational growth and change. He joins Mazzoni from SMYAL ((Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders) in Washington, D.C., where he has served as Executive Director for the past 7+ years. During Sultan’s time there, SMYAL has quadrupled in size (staff and budget), expanded programming from one location to five, and become a D.C.-area and national leader in LGBTQ youth development, health/wellness, and housing.

Sultan spent the previous eight years at HRC leading Youth & Campus Engagement Programs and supporting D.C. and Maryland Marriage Equality Campaigns. He also led HRC’s H.B.C.U. Project, working to make campuses safer and more inclusive of LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff. An organizer and advocate at heart, Sultan spent the early years of his career fighting for the basic rights of low-income people of color nationwide.

“I look forward to working with staff, leadership, and the community to ensure Mazzoni Center continues to grow, thrive, and evolve to continue meeting the needs of the LGBTQ community in the city I call home,” said Sultan. “I am committed to healing, to listening, and to ensuring the quality of care that the Mazzoni Center is known for continues to be at the forefront of LGBTQ health and wellness.”

Sultan will be returning to his native Philadelphia for this position where his growing up gay, black, Muslim, and the son of educators all combined to forge his own identity and the intersectional lens through which he views his work and community. In Philadelphia as a young professional, Sultan spent many years fighting for the basic rights of the members of his community nationwide.

“This was challenging and complex search. Mazzoni has been without a permanent CEO since 2018, following several years of quite public and controversial leadership transitions at the executive level. We knew from the outset that to ensure a successful outcome, this search was going to require a new and different approach which incorporated some learnings from the recent past,” said Kevin Chase, Managing Partner of Kevin Chase Executive Search. “There was also very real need for the new leader to share the lived experiences and intersectional identities of the folks Mazzoni serves.”

“In the end, it was Sultan’s exceptional track record of authentically engaging community and his core intersectional understanding of the needs of BIPOC, queer, and trans/nonbinary staff and clients that led to his selection as the new President & Executive Officer of Mazzoni Center. It will be nothing short of transformational for Mazzoni Center to have a Philadelphia native and a queer leader of color at the helm of the organization for the first time in its 40-year history.”

Mazzoni Center was founded in 1979 to address health inequities faced by Philadelphia’s LGBTQ+ communities. As the oldest HIV/AIDS service organization in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Mazzoni Center is a recognized leader in providing quality, comprehensive, community-based healthcare to LGBTQ+ communities.

Kevin Chase Executive Search Group is a national consulting and executive search firm serving mission-driven, nonprofit organizations in the human services, social justice, healthcare philanthropy, and education sectors. The firm helps its client partners navigate the changing of leaders in their organizations so they can focus on leading change in the world.


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