The Office of Public Engagement Has A New Director

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By Leeanah McNew 

Romana Lee-Akiyama is joining the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement as its new director. Lee-Akiyama served as the Director of Multicultural Affairs at the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) before being promoted to Deputy Director in December 2020. 

From an early age, Lee-Akiyama was passionate about human rights and social justice. As a child, Lee-Akiyama witnessed how much her father lost as a political refugee and how he had to recreate himself. It was eye-opening and gave her insight into what life was like for immigrants and refugees living in the U.S. This led to her commitment to creating more inclusive systems and a responsive government. 

Lee-Akiyama has a background of non-profit, philanthropic, and community-based engagement that she’s bringing to her new role. The Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement acts as the “front door” to city government. This allows the Office of Public Engagement to work with residents to understand their needs and concerns, and ultimately provide policies and program recommendations in response to Philadelphians' needs.

“I’m looking forward to working hand-in-hand with leaders from within the Office of Public Engagement to strengthen existing feedback loops from our dedicated volunteers and community leaders to create a government that works for all,” Lee-Akiyama said in a press release sent out by the city. “I’m also really excited about the Equitable Community Engagement Toolkit that will help the City and all our various departments understand and build capacity, and make our systems more human-centered.”

The new director added that the office will continue to provide accessible and inclusive programming that raises awareness on violence prevention, economic opportunities, and understanding trauma in response to the pandemic. It also plans to partner with community leaders, impacted communities, and City administrations leaders and departments leading key initiatives.

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