City Announces New Roles in Office of Equity to Bolster Safer Neighborhoods 

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City Announces New Roles in Office of Equity to Bolster Safer Neighborhoods 

May 14, 2024 - To advance the City of St. Petersburg’s Neighborhood Health and Safety Pillar for Progress, Mayor Kenneth T. Welch announces the creation of two new roles in the Office of Equity. Reverend Kenny Irby will serve as the City’s new Faith and Community Justice Liaison, and Lisa Wheeler-Bowman will serve as the new Community Impact and Safety Liaison.

“In this era of increasing gun violence, negative social media influences, and the many impacts of poverty, we are committed to innovation and collaboration to provide safe neighborhoods for all in St. Petersburg," said Mayor Kenneth T. Welch. "Rev. Irby’s strong connections with faith leaders and their communities position the City to foster a deeper understanding of how we can better serve our residents. As a mother who lost a child to gun violence, Ms. Wheeler-Bowman brings a genuine perspective and clear lens to her role that will connect with youth and young adults, ensure that they have what they need to make better choices, and better support a safe pathway to success. Both Rev. Irby and Ms. Wheeler-Bowman's combined experiences will positively impact our youth and families in ways that are vital to meeting our young people and families where they are."

A longtime servant leader in St. Pete, Rev. Kenny Irby has blended his careers in photojournalism and ministry outreach to connect with youth in need and their families. He currently serves as the Senior Pastor at Historic Bethel AME Church, the city’s first and oldest predominantly African-American church, and as President of Men in the Making, a role modeling and mentoring program. Rev. Irby previously served as the Director of Community Intervention and Juvenile Outreach for the St. Petersburg Police Department. In his new role as Faith and Community Justice Liaison, he will strengthen engagement with the faith community by increasing their awareness of City services and programs.

Former St. Petersburg City Council Member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman will serve as the Community Impact and Safety Liaison. In this position, Wheeler-Bowman will play a crucial role in spearheading initiatives to support at-risk youth and create a safer St. Pete. Dedicated to nurturing partnerships and implementing impactful programs, the Community Impact and Safety Liaison will address the multifaceted needs of at-risk youth and contribute to a stronger, more resilient community. Ms. Wheeler-Bowman represented District 7 on City Council from 2016-2022.

About the City of St. Petersburg's Office of Equity
In 2023, the Office of Equity was created and tasked with overseeing the development and coordination of equity policies and practices for the City of St. Petersburg. Led by Interim Chief Equity Officer Carl R. Lavender, Jr., the Office of Equity is responsible for advocating, educating, and advancing intentional equity into Mayor Ken Welch's Five Pillars for Progress. Through strategic partnerships with the leadership and administration team, and our diverse community, the Office of Equity works towards a St. Petersburg where all residents thrive and succeed.