Public Service Announcement: As unjust, scary, and sad as the world may seem right now, there are people all around us using their wherewithal to do something about it.
On Tuesday night, The Philadelphia Citizen, in partnership with Washington, D.C.-based Accountability Lab, honored some of those people in our midst: our 2023 Integrity Icons, who embody the highest standards of ethics, positivity, and hope. The five winners of our annual contest have gone above and beyond their job descriptions to make this city a more just, more equitable, kinder place for as many Philadelphians as possible.
Accountability Lab has run Integrity Icon competitions throughout the world since 2012. The Citizen has made Philadelphia the first and only American city to participate in the program, supported by The Thomas Skelton Harrison Foundation, as a way to “name and fame” the best city workers.
Here’s how we chose our Icons: First, The Citizen called for nominations citywide for workers who best demonstrate integrity in their jobs. We then asked a panel of civic leaders to pick our five winners. This year’s judges were: Past Icon winners Richard Gordon IV, assistant superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia; Rebecca Lopez Kriss, a deputy commissioner in the City’s Revenue Department; Angela Val, president and CEO of Visit Philadelphia and a Citizen board member; Amy Kurland, former Inspector General of the City of Philadelphia; and SEAMAAC Executive Director Thoai Nguyen.
We celebrated this year’s Icons at a festive cocktail party Tuesday night at Fitler Club, with the support of 6abc. More than 100 people came out to fête these local heroes and hear from former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter — who created the city’s offices of ethics and integrity — about the importance of integrity in public service, and all aspects of our daily lives.
This year’s winners are:
Ryan Barksdale, a Community Relations Officer for the Philadelphia Police Department who brings free food to families affected by cancer, hosts community block parties, organizes basketball games and Christmas gift drives, and gives his personal cell phone number to all.
Maria Andrea Giraldo Gallo, former Director of Language Access Programs, a multilingual immigrant from Colombia who welcomed refugees arriving to Philly by plane and by bus, with support in their own language and culturally sensitive resources like prayer mats.
Yessenia Gutierrez, the former Compliance Officer at the Office of Worker Protections, who has returned hundreds of thousands of dollars to the wallets of Philadelphians, helping them navigate complex systems to get the money they deserve. (Gutierrez was unable to attend the celebration.)
Kea R. Greene, Communications and Community Engagement Manager in the Office of Criminal Justice, a social justice leader who (among other things) has helped nearly 150 Philadelphians expunge criminal records that have been holding them back from transformative jobs and opportunities.
Tu Huynh, Program Manager for the Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy, who has spent his lifetime supporting artists and art that reflects who we are as a city, our darkest times and our hopes for the future.
Barksdale was named the Peoples’ Choice winner. Check out the joyous party pics below, then prepare to join us at our next event: The 6th annual Ideas We Should Steal Festival, November 17.
Peoples’ Choice winner Ryan Barksdale with his family and friends, including his father (far right), who has always encouraged Barksdale to “be someone’s cup of coffee.” Left to right, surrounding Ryan: Ryan Barksdale-White, Sean Flemming, Wil Patterson, Keith Singleton, Ron Barksdale.
Integrity Icon winner Maria Andrea Giraldo Gallo with her supportive friends and colleagues, from left to right: Camilo Narváez, Whitney Kerner, Benaline Baluyot, Erica Darken, Maria Andrea Giraldo Gallo, Alessandra Villella.
Integrity Icon winner Tu Huynh accepts his award from former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Integrity Icon winner Kea R. Greene with her personal fan club, including from left to right: Larry Kendrick, Jr, Kea’s proud husband; Richard Gordan, a former Integrity Icon winner, 2023 judge, and assistant superintendent for the School District of Philadelphia; Elise Schiller; Brittany Atkinson; Larry Kendrick, III; Lynn Huff; Kea R. Greene; Tyrone Williams; Capri Silver; David Silver; Kaela Greene, Kea’s granddaughter; Bria Kendrick; Teressa Price; Kaelee Shepherd; Blaine Lewis-Thompson.
Barksdale with his proud mother, Marian Barksdale, after being named the Peoples’ Choice award winner.
The next generation of Philly leaders with former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter.
Barksdale gets a warm greeting from one of this year’s Integrity Icon judges, Amy Kurland, former Inspector General of the City of Philadelphia.
It was heartwarming to have former Integrity Icon winners, like Carlos Aponte (center, Phillies jersey), now the founder and Executive Director of We Love Philly, there to celebrate with his colleagues, from left to right: Britney Stothart, Chris Davis, Stefanie Aponte, Carlos Aponte, Salaah Muhammad, Namarah McCall.
Accountability Lab Chief of Staff Mariana Martinez and Program Officer Alawi Masud came in from Washington, D.C., and were excited to congratulate Barksdale.
Citizen co-founder Larry Platt, Citizen Board Member and President/CEO of Visit Philadelphia Angela Val, and former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter feted honorees and guests.
Integrity Icon winner Tu Huynh (right) and Gwen Redmond.
Integrity Icon winner Kea R. Greene and her best friend, Dana Griffith.
Former Integrity Icon winner Rebecca Lopez Kriss, one of the judges for this year’s awards, chats with Curran Swint.
Watch the full event:
Integrity Icon is made possible through a grant from the Thomas Skelton Harrison Foundation. The Harrison Foundation does not exercise editorial control or approval over the content of any material published by The Philadelphia Citizen.
MEET THE 2023 INTEGRITY ICONS