Philadelphia Women’s History Month All-Stars

All-Star #5: Gloria Casarez

Philadelphia Women’s History Month All-Stars

All-Star #5: Gloria Casarez

Scientists. Activists. Lawyers. Artists. The first computer programmers.

The history books may have neglected some of the incredible Philly women who changed the world over the last 200-plus years—but we have not.

While it shouldn’t take a national observance to put women on our radar, this is one holiday we’re happy to play along with: Every weekday during Women’s History Month, we’re highlighting a local woman whose legacy deserves celebrating—and who continues to inspire us.

Find the full list below—and also check out the incredible women we included in our Black History Month All-Stars roundup—like Marian Anderson, Sadie Alexander and Caroline Still Anderson.


Gloria Casarez

LGBTQ community organizer

Gloria Casarez

LGBTQ community organizer


Philly native Gloria Caserez was the first director of LGBT affairs in the City of Philadelphia, appointed by Mayor Michael Nutter in 2008.

Under her leadership, Philly instituted the broadest LGBTQ protections in the country, which led to our being ranked the number one city in the U.S. for LGBTQ equality.

That was the culmination of a lifetime of community organizing that included leading GALAEI (Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Initiative), where she launched Philly’s first mobile HIV testing centers, and co-chairing the board of Prevention Point, as well as housing and economic justice activism.

Casarez was recognized here and across the country for her work, including by Out Magazine, which named her one of the 100 Most Influential Leaders of the New Millennium in 1999; the NAACP; and the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Five years after she died of breast cancer in 2014, Project HOME named a new residence for homeless LGBTQ youth in her name.


  • West Chester University, 1993


  • Founding member of the national housing rights and economic justice organization Empty the Shelters
  • Served as Philadelphia’s first director of LGBTQ affairs
  • Served as executive director of GALAEI
  • Played a critical role in bringing the LGBT Equality Bill to Philadelphia
  • Founding member of the Philly Dyke March

: Michelle Angela Ortiz, who painted the sadly now-demolished mural of Casarez in Philadelphia’s Gayborhood, told the Today Show that “Gloria represented a group of people who are marginalized, not seen or heard and have felt the effects of erasure, so for her to be painted over by white paint is re-traumatizing so many in the community.”


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