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Photo credit: City of Philadelphia
Jessica Shapiro (left) and Vanessa Garrett Harley (right) are selected to fill deputy mayor roles in Philadelphia. Photo credit: City of Philadelphia

The City of Philadelphia announces two leadership transitions for the Office of Children and Families

Mayor Jim Kenney selects Vanessa Garrett Harley as Deputy Mayor, and Jessica Shapiro as Acting Deputy Mayor for Philly’s Office of Children and Families.

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City government named two prominent women leaders, Vanessa Garrett Harley and Jessica Shapiro, to fill deputy mayor roles, succeeding Cynthia Figueroa, who completed her term on Jan. 7.

Vanessa Garrett Harley, acting managing director of the City of Philadelphia, is scheduled to be appointed as deputy mayor to Jim Kenney on March 28. Harley currently assists the city’s managing director, Tumar Alexander, in overseeing daily operations.

“Vanessa Garrett Harley has dedicated her career to public service, to the safety and wellbeing of all Philadelphians, and to the welfare of our city’s children,” said Mayor Kenney in a statement.

Garrett Harley, when chosen for the deputy mayor position, said she is excited to return to work with children and families in which her passion is deeply rooted.

With 20 years of experience working in city government, Garrett Harley looks to continue improving Philadelphia’s social services and welfare programs in the Office of Children and Families. She also comes with first-hand experience working with youth incarceration in PA.

“I have come full circle in my career in City government, and am excited about utilizing the wealth of experience that I have gained in my other roles to further the goal of ensuring that children, youth and families are safe, have equitable access to services and public spaces, and have quality educational opportunities,” Garrett Harley said.

After graduating from Georgetown University, Garrett Harley, a Philly native herself, went on to complete her law degree at Temple University School of Law.

During Garrett Harley’s transition into the role, Jessica Shapiro, who served two years as the Office of Children and Families’ first deputy, will lead deputy mayor efforts.

Shapiro received her law degree from Boston College Law School in 1996, and has served Philadelphia’s city government for 25 years. Her professional accomplishments are most notable in helping the city expand departments and improve civil programs.

“I am deeply committed to serving the City of Philadelphia’s children, families, and communities,” said Shapiro. “I also look forward to supporting Vanessa Garrett Harley when she transitions to Deputy Mayor in the coming months.”

Prior to working in the Office of Children and Families, Shapiro also held positions, such as the Acting Commissioner of the Department of Human Services (DHS), First Deputy Commissioner of DHS, and as Chief of Staff for two DHS Commissioners.

Shapiro told AL DÍA, that the City of Philadelphia has “bolstered older youth programs through Intensive Prevention Services and Community Evening Resource Centers,” and has kept recreations centers open until 9 p.m.

City partners are continuing to provide Out of School Time programs to many children in Philadelphia, according to Shapiro. Some locations include schools, community based sites, and public libraries.

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