Bradbury-Sullivan names new executive director

Ashley Coleman –

After a search that lasted several months, the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown has named a new executive director. 

A search committee, led by DRG Talent, chose longtime LGBTQ+ community leader, Ashley Coleman, and she has been appointed to serve in the position by the center’s board of directors. 

Coleman was formally introduced at a community event hosted by Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center Jan. 9.  

“We are thrilled to have Ashley join us as the executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan LBGT Community Center,” said Liz Kleintop, chair of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center’s board of directors. “Ashley is a strong, collaborative leader bringing many competencies to the Center that will help the board and staff work toward a new vision of the Center that benefits the LGBTQ+ community throughout the Lehigh Valley.”  

Coleman has worked in the LGBTQ+ community in Philadelphia for over ten years having previously served as executive director at galaei, an empowerment and social justice nonprofit and as senior events manager at Mazzoni Center, a health and wellness center serving the LGBTQ+ population.  

According to a press release, Coleman began her activism and advocacy began as a youth in the Lehigh Valley, leading Queer youth initiatives while producing large scale events for nonprofits in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  

She went on to serve as the general conference coordinator of the world’s largest Transgender specific conference from 2016-2019. She led galaei through the production of Philadelphia’s 50th Pride parade and festival in 2022.  

“I am honored to join the dedicated staff and board at Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. Bradbury-Sullivan Center is a keystone in LGBTQ+ support far beyond the limits of the Lehigh Valley. I am truly elated to work together to continue the lifesaving work of the Center and cultivate opportunities and resources for LGBTQ+ individuals that have been left on the margins,” said Coleman.  

She succeeds Interim Executive Director Bill McGlinn, who began leading the Center in March 2022. “The Lehigh Valley LGBTQ+ community will be well-served by having Ashley L. Coleman as Executive Director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center,” McGlinn said. “I have been impressed with Ashley’s tenure with both galaei and Mazzoni Center. She has a deep understanding of the role an LGBTQ+ community center can play in advancing the health and well-being of the complex and wondrous community we are privileged to serve. I have complete confidence in Ashley’s readiness and ability to serve as an inspirational leader and assist in realizing the next chapter of our center.” 

PPL helps bolster LGBTQ+ training at Bradbury-Sullivan

With the help of a $5,000 grant from the PPL Foundation, the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown is bolstering its educational training on diversity equity and inclusion. 

The Training Institute at the community center offers training to businesses and organizations to help them to avoid creating barriers to communication because of inadvertent misuse of language or a lack of information about cultural context.  

“We frequently get calls from community organizations, especially those providing services to youth, that seek training for their staff on LGBTQ+ awareness and equity, but don’t have the budget to fund it,” said Liz Bradbury, director of the institute. “At a time when some justify rolling back the fundamental human rights of the LGBTQ+ community with misinformation, we’re very grateful to PPL for this generous grant that will cover the cost of training for many groups.” 

LGBTQ+ advocates say companies can avoid ‘rainbow-washing’ during Pride month


June is Pride month for the LGBTQ+ community, and support for Pride month is definitely growing in corporate America. 

Many national and local companies have hung rainbow flags in their windows or added rainbows to their logos and social media posts. But is this just “rainbow-washing?” 

Advocates for the LGBTQ+ community are saying that while those signs of support are much appreciated, they remind businesses that the issues facing them don’t just happen in June. 

Stephen Jiwanmall, director of communications and marketing for the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown said companies can do more than rainbow logos to support their LGBTQ+ employees and customers. 

“Oftentimes it comes off as performative,” Jiwanmall said “Were looking for authenticity.” 

He said that can be something as simple as keeping those rainbow flags and logos up year-round instead of just in June. 

“Use rainbow signage permanently,” he said. 

Meaningful change is the best way to support the LGBTQ+ people in the workplace, he said. 

Companies can implement clear non-discrimination policies that provide security for people at work and in the community. 

Becoming more culturally aware of the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community can also help a great deal. He said understanding the importance of such things as a person’s pronouns is one way leadership can show support. 

“You should be using language that’s affirming,” he said. 

He noted that Bradbury-Sullivan offers classes to help businesses be more culturally aware of the LGBTQ+ community and consulted with 41 businesses in the Lehigh Valley last year. 

Bradbury-Sullivan executive director to step down

Adrian Shanker –

Adrian Shanker, the founding executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, has announced that he has decided to step down at the end of March.  

Since founding Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in June 2014, Shanker has led the capital fundraising, property acquisition, and programmatic development from the start-up phase to its current annual budget of $1.6 million. The Center also now has two dozen employees.  

Under Shanker’s leadership, the organization successfully sued the Trump administration to block three anti-LGBTQ rules from going into effect.  

He also created the biannual Pennsylvania LGBTQ Health Needs Assessment, which is now the largest state-level LGBTQ+ health data in the nation.  

In 2017, Shanker navigated a merger with Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley that led to significant programmatic and budgetary growth of the region’s annual Pride festival.  

In 2021, the organization served more than 10,000 community members through supportive services, arts and culture programs, youth programs, and more.  

Claire Ippoliti, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center’s board chair commented on Shanker’s departure. 

 “The board of directors feels both gratitude and sadness with the departure of Adrian Shanker as our executive director. Under Adrian’s strong leadership, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center has thrived and grown. Adrian will be missed. The board of directors is committed to ensuring a smooth transition and looks forward to welcoming a new leader,” Ippoliti said.  

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to work to create, build, and grow Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center,” Shanker said. “The decision to step down from an organization you love, especially one you are the founder of, is never easy, but I have decided to do so, because I have full confidence in the board and staff of the center, who I know are well-situated to continue to grow the impact of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center’s programs and services into the future.” 

The organization’s board of directors will form a search committee to find Shanker’s replacement. A timeline has not yet been set. 

Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Center sues Trump over roll back of ACA’s anti-discrimination protections

Adrian Shanker, executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center – Stacy Wescoe


The Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown has joined a group of other organizations around the country suing the Trump Administration over the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services action to remove LGBTQ people and other populations from the protections of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and other bases.

This is not Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center’s first time suing the Trump administration. In 2019, Bradbury-Sullivan, represented by Lambda Legal, was a plaintiff in Santa Clara v. Azar, a move to block the Trump Administration’s Denial-of-Care Rule. In response to the lawsuit, a District Court vacated the rule in its entirety in November.

“While HHS’s health care discrimination rule cannot change the law, it creates chaos and confusion where there was once clarity about the right of everyone in our communities, and specifically transgender people, to receive health care free of discrimination,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, senior attorney and health care strategist for Lambda Legal, which is handling the lawsuit along with Steptoe & Johnson LLP.

In 2016, the Obama administration finalized a rule implementing the nondiscrimination provisions of the Affordable Care Act—also known as Section 1557—that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity, transgender status, or sex stereotypes as forms of sex discrimination.

In May 2019 the Trump administration announced a proposed rule change designed to roll back these protections.

Last week HHS published the health care discrimination rule eliminating LGBTQ protections, which is scheduled to go into effect Aug. 18.

Adrian Shanker, executive director of the center, said even with the protections under Section 1557, his organization has had to advocate with health insurers for such things as continuing hormone therapy.

While in the case he was referring to he said they were able to get the insurer to reverse the decision and apologize to the member, further stripping away such protections would make it even more difficult for many marginalized groups to obtain the proper health care.

He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week that sex discrimination policies include sexual orientation and gender identity, overruling the HHS action.

The lawsuit, Whitman-Walker Clinic v. HHS, is filed on behalf of Whitman-Walker Health, the [email protected] Coalition, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, AGLP: The Association of LGBTQ Psychiatrists, and four individual doctors.


Local activist edits anthology on improving health care for LGBT community

Adrian Shanker, executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown, has edited a new anthology of essays by LGBT activists which aims to inform the health care system and LGBT health care consumers on how to give and receive better care.

cover art for Shanker’s new anthology –

Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health, a 256-page book published by San Francisco-area publisher PM Press, is set for release and distribution in early 2020. The book, which will be available wherever books are sold according to Shanker, features essays by prominent activists in the LGBT community, including a foreword by Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s secretary of health.

The book’s 26 chapters are each written by activists from around the country and the world, including several from the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania like Alisa Bowman, a parent of a transgender child, and Liz Bradbury, director of the training institute of the Bradbury-Sullivan center.

 The book is structured chronologically to take the reader on a journey through the major stages of life for LGBT people, Shanker said, from birth through death.

Adrian Shanker, executive director, Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, Allentown – submitted

“Our goal is to tell stories,” said Shanker, “with our biggest hope that the health care system will improve through listening to the true stories. We want to create a conversation that leads to improved care.”

Shanker said that the inspiration for the anthology came to him when he was a graduate student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

“I thought about how there was nothing really published about LGBT access to health care and how to improve it,” he said. “I myself had a negative experience with a health care professional. For most health care providers, the intention is to provide great care, but they may not be aware of how to be more inclusive to LGBT health care consumers.”

According to Shanker, the book probes deeply into the roots of the disparities faced by those in the LGBT community and provides information on how to fight for health equity and better health outcomes.

Live fundraiser helps LGBT Center pay off mortgage

Names of donors to the fundraising campaign appear live on a screen at the annual gala for the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. (Photo submitted) –

Fifteen minutes.

That’s how long it took the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center to pay off its mortgage Wednesday night, in a live fundraising campaign that executive director, Adrian Shanker admitted doesn’t happen every day in the nonprofit world.

The community center was able to pay off the $50,000 balance on the mortgage to its downtown Allentown building thanks to a challenge grant that was announced by Air Products at the center’s annual gala.

The Trexlertown-based company offered up to $25,000 – or half the amount owed – if donors at the event could raise the other half live.

Using GiveLively, a text to donate service, the 290 people attending the gala were asked to contribute to the campaign to reach the goal, with names of donors being displayed live on a screen at the event.

“We used live technology. As people were making donations their names would appear. It was really very exciting. You could see us making our goal,” Shanker said.

All totaled, 93 people contributed in the 15 minutes it took to reach the goal, with the average donor contributing $311.

While that might sound like easy money, Shanker was quick to point out that an offer that was made by Air Products doesn’t happen often and the overwhelming support the effort received at the event isn’t an everyday occurrence for nonprofits.

“We do an appeal at our gala every year,” he said. But he said they don’t have appeals on a level like that one every year.

He said paying off the mortgage has actually been in the works for some time.

He explained that the building was purchased for $340,000 in September 2015 and the organization borrowed a $240,000 mortgage from People First Federal Credit Union.  The mortgage was a 7-year fixed rate of 5 percent interest, which he called very favorable terms for a non-profit at the time. However the center’s monthly payments of $1,600 were in the way of program fundraising.

So in October 2017, the center launched the Campaign for Equity – a capital campaign to eliminate the remaining $214,000 mortgage.

Shanker said asking for money to pay off a mortgage isn’t always a popular fundraising topic.

“Conventional wisdom is that donors don’t contribute to debt reduction,” he said.

However, by paying off the mortgage, Bradbury-Sullivan is saving that $1,600 a month in payments, which is enough money, for example, to hire another part-time employee.

And he said being debt free helps the center be more stable in its commitment to Allentown and the Greater Lehigh Valley.

“We’re never going to be priced out of the city. We will own the building,” he said.

Proactive workplace policies needed to address gender preferences

In a sign of the times, many employers are enacting workplace policies to address gender issues and show respect to people who may want to be called by names and pronouns that reflect their gender identities rather than their biological characteristics at birth.

The policies are needed to avoid discrimination and harassment problems that could crop up as non-binary and transgender people increasingly identify themselves in the workplace, lawyers and other experts said.

Co-workers may be asked to respect these individuals by using different names and pronouns. Companies, meanwhile, can communicate employee preferences in staff directories, email footers and online staff profiles, as well as in marketing promotions and literature circulated in the workplace and elsewhere.

In addition to the traditional “he” and “she,” some people are using the generic “they” or ‘xe,” neither of which refers to a specific gender.

“Every transgender or non-binary individual deserves to be addressed as they see fit in the workplace,” said Adrian Shanker, executive director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center in Allentown. “By not addressing that individual as they want to be addressed, that is a form of harassment, and an employee that does not want to use the appropriate gender pronouns to speak to that individual should be disciplined.”

Still, it may take time for employees to adjust and consistently use a person’s preferred pronoun, noted Stephanie A. Koenig, an attorney at Fitzpatrick Lentz & Bubba PC in Upper Saucon Township.

“An employee can politely and respectfully correct a co-worker who uses the wrong pronoun,” Koenig said, noting that it helps to give people the benefit of the doubt. “It is likely that the co-worker wants to respect your preferred pronoun.”

She said that in the past year the Pennsylvania Human Relations Committee announced guidance that state law prohibits discrimination on the basis of transgender identity, gender transition, gender identity and gender expression.

“In light of this, employers may want to consider reviewing and revising non-discrimination and equal employment policies and practices to ensure that sexual orientation, transgender identity, gender transition, gender identity, and gender expression are protected,” Koenig said.

She said that she is seeing an uptick in cases that involve gender identity issues in the workplace, but it impacts employers differently based on their class and size. She recommends that employers discuss the implications of gender identity with their legal counsel.

Federal law also is in flux, suggested Kelly Fackenthall, an employment law attorney at Winegar, Wilhelm, Glynn & Roemersma PC, which has offices in Phillipsburg, New Jersey and Bethlehem.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has been interpreted to prohibit gender identity-based harassment and discrimination, she said.

“When a transgender employee comes out to their employer, it is important for the employer to show the employee that the employee is welcomed and accepted,” she added. “The key is respect and making it clear to your employees that you as an employer want to make the employee feel supported.”

An employer should be prepared to ask appropriate questions, she said, to determine the pronouns, names and titles each employee prefers.

“Where a legal name differs from the employee’s chosen name, be cognizant that office memos, letterhead, and any other documentation referring to employee use the employee’s chosen name,” she said. “The employer should also consider updating its handbook and employee forms to be inclusive. When addressing staff, avoid using gendered language. For example, instead of ‘ladies and gentlemen,’ try ‘all’ or ‘everyone.’”

Many companies already have been updating their policies to handle gender identity issues, said Mark B. Stanziola, an attorney at Gardner Law Office in Bethlehem. And, he said: “While not universal, many municipalities in the Lehigh Valley have also enacted anti-discrimination policies to protect from all forms of workplace discrimination.”

Companies are slowly incorporating chosen gender identity markers, he added. “The best practice again is to confirm with each individual how they wish to be identified and for the company to make sure that this is universally updated and applied.”