Join Us!

At the 2024 Integrity Icon Philly Celebration

RSVP today to attend the 2024 Integrity Icon Philly celebration Thursday, May 23 at the Fitler Club Ballroom at 1 South 24th Street. Doors open at 6pm.


For its fourth year, The Philadelphia Citizen and Accountability Lab will be naming five high-integrity city workers as this year’s Integrity Icons. Join us to celebrate with family, friends, and colleagues. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. For questions, please contact [email protected].



Meet our 2024 Integrity Icon Philadelphia Winners

The Fix: City Workers Who Work For You

Announcing The Citizen’s 2024 Integrity Icons, city employees who serve us all with the highest trust, care, equality and ethics. Come celebrate these heroes with us on May 23

The Fix: City Workers Who Work For You

Announcing The Citizen’s 2024 Integrity Icons, city employees who serve us all with the highest trust, care, equality and ethics. Come celebrate these heroes with us on May 23

Deion Sumpter faces the harsh and brutal reality of gun violence everyday in his job as Director of the City’s Gun Violence Intervention program. But he does it with an infectious smile, seemingly endless energy and big-hearted love even on weekends and evenings — something that trickles down to everyone in his office.

Eric Kapenstein worked 10 hour days for 340 days in 2020 to ensure a fair and safe election in Philadelphia. Now, the Deputy City Commissioner — a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic town — is gearing up to make voting just as safe and even more accessible in 2024.

Tracey T. Williams, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Records, turned her role managing the 20,000 cubic feet of the City Archives into becoming a tireless advocate for victims of deed fraud in Philadelphia — at no one’s urging but her own.

Adara Combs, the City’s first Victim Advocate, has already carved out a role as a connector in the push to improve victim services at a time when we more clearly understand the links between victimization and perpetration of crime.

And Lesha Sanders, Director of Problem Solving Courts for the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, is like a one-woman resource hub, providing support, supplies and referrals to any justice-involved people she encounters in the course of her day. “Her status quo,” as one former colleague puts it, “is above and beyond.”

Naming and faming for a change

“Above and beyond” is not how many Philadelphia would think to describe their city government. And even a brief perusal of local news over the last couple weeks makes it clear why: We had police officers lying about drug busts; the Sheriff’s office using taxpayer money in ways not authorized by the City Charter; homeless services officials mismanaging funds. The drumbeat of shameful behavior from those who are supposed to take care of us can feel endless.

But here’s the thing: The city workforce of 30,000 people also — maybe more so? — includes public servants who truly serve — not because it’s their job to do so, but because they feel called to make a difference in the lives of their fellow Philadelphians. Our five 2024 Integrity Icons — along with the 15 we have previously named — are just such workers.

Read, for example, how Kapenstein describes his work ethic: “My parents would tell you I take my job a little too seriously and that I don’t take enough time off. There’s always more that I can do. I feel I always have to be here. Call me biased, but I like to think that every election matters and that every vote matters.”

Or Sumpter: “Despite my long hours and demanding workload, I smile. I remain upbeat. I do not pressure my staff to work hard; instead, I actively demonstrate hard work. Same goes for compassion.”

We found our new crop of winners after putting out a call for nominees at the start of 2024 for city workers who meet the following criteria: They are a high-integrity public service employee who is respectful and caring; know their work makes a difference to people’s lives; act in a trustworthy and transparent way to solve problems the best they can; treat everyone equally, without regard to politics or influence; and go above and beyond to provide good service to Philadelphians.

“There’s always more that I can do. I feel I always have to be here.” — Eric Kapenstein

Readers submitted dozens of excellent nominations. In April, a panel of high-integrity judges chose the winners. The panel included: previous Icon Maria Giraldo Gallo, now Director of Evaluation and Learning for Women Against Abuse; The Citizen’s Block Captain of the Year Michelle Belser; former Inspector General Amy Kurland; and City Year CEO Darryl Bundrige.

The Citizen has been “naming and faming” high integrity city workers since 2021, when we teamed up with Washington, D.C.-based Accountability Lab to become the first — and still only — U.S. city to launch an Integrity Icon contest, along with more than a dozen countries, from Nepal to South Africa. Our first introduction to the project was a presentation by Accountability Lab’s Co-CEO Cheri-Leigh Erasmus at our first-ever Ideas We Should Steal Festival.

We have since named as Icons publicly-paid workers who include Ryan Barksdale, a Community Relations Officer in the 25th District — encompassing Hunting Park, Franklin, Feltonville, Juniata Park, and parts of Fairhill and Upper Kensington — who delivers groceries for cancer patients, set up a Haunted Halloween in Hunting Park to create a safe space for kids to trick-or-treat, and organized an officers vs. community basketball league and a partnership with a local elementary school to provide Christmas gifts.

And Kea R. Greene, who trained AmeriCorps volunteers in record expungement — legally helping folks remove criminal charges that may be on their public records and could be holding them back from opportunities like employment and housing. And Richard Gordon IV, former star principal of Paul Robeson High School, who is now an assistant superintendent and credits his Icon status in part for being named Principal of the Year in 2022.

These, and their fellow Icons, are the people we should hear about in the news, make all-star cards for, hoist up on our shoulders, plaster on the side of SEPTA buses — rather than just shrugging at the misbehavior of government workers who are not looking out for us.

That’s why The Citizen runs Integrity Icon contests year after year — and why we are inviting everyone to come celebrate the 2024 Icons, on May 23, from 6 to 730pm, at Fitler Club Ballroom. The party will feature a presentation from former Mayor Michael Nutter.

Read more about all the 2024 Integrity Icons here:

RSVP today to attend the 2024 Integrity Icon Philly celebration Thursday, May 23 at the Fitler Club Ballroom at 1 S. 24th Street. Doors open at 6pm.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Amy Kurland’s former position. She was Inspector General.

The Fix 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.


2024 Integrity Icon winners, left to right: Eric Kapenstein, Tracey T. Gordon, Deion Williams, Lesha Sanders and Adara Combs. Photo by Creative Outfit.

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