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SP2 Grad Advocates for Philly’s LGBTQ Population

Sayeeda Rashid leverages her position as a recent School of Social Policy & Practice graduate to work for social change in Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs. (Image: Philadelphia Mayor’s Office)

Authored by: Kristina García / Penn Today

Photography by: Image from Philadelphia Mayor's Office



As policy fellow with Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, Sayeeda Rashid of the School of Social Policy & Practice (SP2) found herself in a room with the police force’s top brass. Rashid was there to leverage support for Directive 4.15, a police policy that would provide additional protections for trans and nonbinary people, including the right to request the gender of the officer conducting a body search and the right to have pronouns respected.

“I remember sitting in a room with all these top police officers in starched white shirts and no one talking. I had to figure out how to communicate,” Rashid says. “What’s the language that I know? What’s the language they know? What can I say to create a bridge between our communities?”

Mobilizing change through communication has been a major part of Rashid’s work, both in the Mayor’s office and at SP2, where Rashid recently earned a master’s in nonprofit leadership and a master’s in social work. “Discernment is a skill I continue to strive for,” she says. “Learning how to read a room, learning when and how to speak to the issues, and learning how to make space at the table will be a lifelong process. My main mission in life is to mobilize a group of people who are dedicated to a social cause and to work towards systemic change. To do that, it is my responsibility to actively challenge myself and to utilize my privileges—may that be via education, nationality, gender identity, or race—to create spaces where marginalized voices are centered and elevated. It is critical to the movement of justice and liberation of Black, brown, queer, and trans people.”

Rashid has a vision for big, systemic change along with leadership ambitions; she hopes to secure an executive director position in a small to medium-sized nonprofit within the next five years. She’s also a detail-oriented and a hard worker, running to secure event logistics and creating PowerPoint presentations, as well as drafting speeches and talking points for the office’s leadership.

Read the full story on Penn Today here.