Announcing The Community Listening Tours

Announcing The Community Listening Tours

Mazzoni Center today announced its new President and Executive Officer will begin a listening tour to connect with a diverse group of community members in an effort to hear about the community’s needs, concerns, and interests. Mazzoni Center’s Community Affairs Manager, Tatyana Woodard, will be joining him for this series of virtual and in-person sessions.

“When you’re the new leader, the first question people ask is, ‘What are your plans? What are you going to do?’ I’ve said from the beginning my plan was to start this work just by listening. Listening to staff, listening to community, listening to the board, and not just listening but really hearing what it is people need from Mazzoni Center,” said Sultan Shakir, President and Executive Officer.

The goal of the listening tour is to talk about past experiences, including trauma and harm the agency has caused as well as hearing about things the organization does well and should expand, such as the culturally competent care that is the center of the organization’s mission. The listening tour will provide an opportunity for the community to provide feedback about ways in which Mazzoni Center can better support the health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ community.

“Mazzoni Center’s future must be based on understanding of the community’s needs. That understanding can only come from engaging in frank and sometimes difficult conversations with all of our constituencies,” Shakir added.

The tour will begin with a conversation at the Next Level Revival Church, one of the organizations Mazzoni Center works with to engage community members who may not find Center City to be the most accessible place to seek care. “When I visited Next Level Revival Church, even prior to starting as President, I was really moved by the level of care, the bold acceptance of queer and trans people, and the strong sense of community empowerment that can be felt being in community with the leaders and community that make up Next Level Revival Church. Even as someone who doesn’t identify with being Christian, I could feel that the space welcomes, promotes, and emanates healing. I knew that we should start the listening tour from that space,” Shakir explained.

Explaining the importance of having these conversations, Woodard said, “Over the years, trust has been broken between Mazzoni Center and the community. The only way to restore that trust and move towards community healing is by taking accountability and acknowledging the harm that has been done and working towards restorative justice so that we can embark on a journey towards healing together.”

Following the conclusion of the listening tour, Shakir will then hold a town hall to report out the results of the sessions and share action steps to address what was heard.

To gather feedback from as diverse an audience as possible, Shakir and Woodard have invited a broad range of constituencies to these listening sessions, including current and former staff, youth, elders, folks from trans and ballroom communities, communities of color, etc. The listening sessions will also include a panel on the history of black and brown, queer and trans leadership in the organization and the broader LGBTQ health movement.

For those who may not be able or willing to participate in a listening session, the agency will be launching an online survey as an alternate way for community to provide feedback.

The first listening sessions have been scheduled as follows:

Tour Schedule

More sessions will be announced as they are scheduled and will include sessions for people of color, youth, former staff, and other constituencies, as well as listening sessions on the history of black and brown and queer and trans contributions in the space of health and wellness in the Philadelphia region.