Amber Hikes, MSW’08
Amber Hikes (they/she) is a social justice advocate, community organizer, TED Talk speaker, and unapologetically queer and Black. As the ACLU’s deputy executive director for strategy & culture, Amber serves as chief counselor and principal partner to the executive director, overseeing the critical functions of organizational strategic planning and programmatic priority setting. In this capacity, Amber also provides executive-level senior leadership and management oversight across the ACLU.
Previously, they served as the ACLU’s first chief equity and inclusion officer, providing vision, leadership, and direction for the ACLU’s nationwide strategy to support equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) across all aspects of the organization’s work and efforts. Amber was both the internal and external ambassador on the importance of EDI as a crucial cornerstone of the ACLU’s culture of belonging.
In 2017, Amber introduced the world to the More Color, More Pride flag, launching a global conversation around anti-racism in the LGBTQ community. On the heels of this monumental work, Amber released a TED Talk helping all of us be better mentors, sponsors, and believers in collective liberation. With two million views, Amber’s TED Talk has built a network of intersectional accomplices changing the landscape of equity, inclusion, and belonging in the workplace.
Prior to joining the ACLU, Amber served as the executive director of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs where they developed policy and served as the principal advisor to the mayor on issues that affect the LGBTQ community. At the mayor’s office, Amber set their sights on fighting and advocating for the most impacted populations within the LGBTQ community – specifically youth, elders, immigrants, transgender people, and people of color. In their time leading the office, Amber advocated for anti-discrimination legislation at the municipal level, passed one of the nation’s most trans-inclusive police policies and added black and brown stripes to the rainbow flag, prompting an international conversation about race and discrimination within the LGBTQ community.
Amber has been recognized nationally by OUT Magazine as “Community Organizer of the Year” in the 2018 OUT 100 and by Business Equality Pride as one of the 40 LGBTQ Leaders Under 40. Amber earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania and psychology and English degrees from the University of Delaware.
“This world, this country, needs SP2 graduates more than ever. I have not had a traditional career — I’ve been an organizer, an educator, a nonprofit leader, an executive director, and a policymaker, but I’ve always been an advocate and I’ve always been a proud social worker. And at every turn, I’ve hired social workers, policymakers, and nonprofit leaders to help me lead this work.”