St. Pete hires veteran non-profit leader as new chief equity officer

Social justice champion Lenice C. Emanuel joins the Welch administration. Pictured above at the sixth annual Stand Against Racism Conference held in St. Pete in 2014.

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Ken Welch has officially named Lenice C. Emanuel as chief equity officer for the City of St. Petersburg. With more than 25 years in non-profit management, government, fund development, and community relations, Emanuel most recently served as the executive director of the Alabama Institute for Social Justice (AISJ), a statewide agency focused on racial justice and reconciliation across Alabama.

Lenice C. Emanuel

“Lenice has the experience and track record in bringing diverse groups together to engage in meaningful dialogue that can positively impact a range of social justice issues here at the city and in the community,” said Mayor Welch. “Not only am I excited about Lenice’s return to St. Petersburg, but she is the right leader to ensure that intentional equity remains at the forefront of my administration’s priorities.”

Announced in May, the chief equity officer role was created in response to the Structural Racism Study conducted by the city in 2021 and to support Welch’s focus on inclusive progress. Emanuel will ensure that equity and inclusion are fully integrated into city government policies, procedures, and practices in collaboration with community stakeholders.

Reporting directly to Welch’s Chief of Staff Jordan “Doyle” Walsh, Emanuel will serve as a member of the mayor’s cabinet or executive team. She will oversee education and youth opportunity efforts and the Office of Community Impact. Emanuel’s first day with the city is Monday, Oct. 2.

“The opportunity to serve in this new role is a great honor, and I am looking forward to journeying with a community that I have long loved — bringing together the best of all of us while centering the needs, values, and aspirations of those historically marginalized,” said Emanuel. “At its core, St. Pete is rich in diversity, inclusiveness, and progressive intention, making it perfectly poised to lead in the area of equity. We are committed to leaving no one behind, where all of us will rise together, as one St. Pete.”

During her eight years at AISJ, Emanuel was dedicated to empowering women, people of color, and addressing poverty in marginalized communities through the platform areas of childcare advocacy, voter engagement, gender equity, grassroots organizing, environmental justice and racial healing and reconciliation.

Some of Emanuel’s highlights at AISJ include serving on the committee that passed HB76 -The Child Care Safety Act, which addresses uniform standards for all child care centers in Alabama; leading efforts to develop a statewide policy agenda to address multiple platforms to impact the reduction of poverty among women and children positively; and launching the Alabama Movement for Child Care, a grassroots movement comprised of marginalized child care providers, parents, workers, and advocates for equitable child care.

No stranger to St. Petersburg, Emanuel served as president and CEO of YWCA Tampa Bay from 20-2015. Previous roles in Alabama include serving as CEO of YWCA Greater Mobile and working in leadership roles at the City of Prichard, the Mobile Area Education Foundation and Success By 6 with the Montgomery YMCA. She is a Climate Reality Leader and part of a corps of advocates and influencers in 152 countries trained by former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Emanuel graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Auburn University at Montgomery, a Master of Liberal Arts degree in Leadership and Ethics from Spring Hill College and a certificate in Diversity & Inclusion from Cornell University.

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