Stephan Broadus has only served on the Allegheny County Human Relations Commission for two and a half years—but then again, that’s the longest any members have served because the commission only started in July, 2009.
Still, Broadus, assistant to the publisher of the New Pittsburgh Courier, was surprised to be elected as the commission’s second chair.
“It’s a tremendous honor, and a tremendous challenge to be following the great work Hugh McGough did getting the commission up and running,” said Broadus. “We have a dedicated group of volunteers, and great support from the county.”
The commission was created to expand the protections against discrimination offered by the City of Pittsburgh commission to residents outside of the city. Until its formation, county residents outside Pittsburgh with complaints involving race, age or gender discrimination had to appeal to the state commission.
But, as outgoing chair McGough notes, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender complaints are not covered by the state commission, which is why the county commission has seen those as the bulk of its cases, though some involve racial and religious discrimination.
“We seek to offer the protections the city has offered for 50 years. The state doesn’t cover LGBT complaints,” he said. “Stephan served on the city commission for many years and that experience is an enormous asset, especially to a young commission such as ours.”
The commission’s newest member, retired Superior Court of Pennsylvania Justice Justin Johnson agreed.
“I’m delighted that Stephan’s going to be the chair. He’s exactly the right person for the job,” said Johnson. “He’s already demonstrated his ability and I’m confident with Stephan as chair, we’ll be moving forward in a consistent and strong way.”
In addition to Broadus, McGough and Johnson, the commission includes attorney Mark Nowak, Giant Eagle Corporate Counsel Mary Gibson, District 11 County Councilwoman Barbara Daly Danko, and New Voices Pittsburgh Executive Director Latasha Mayes.
Currently, the commission has no budget, but receives technical and material support from the county Law Department and the Department of Human Services. Ideally, Broadus said he would like to see that change.
“Looking forward, hopefully, we can get a small operating budget that will allow us to create marketing materials, improve the website and make the community more aware that we are here and we are ready to help,” he said. “As more people know we’re here, I expect we’ll see more complaints and more of a broader range of issues. I plan to work closely with Charles Morrison who chairs the city commission.”
The commission meets on the first Thursday of the month. The first meeting with new officers will be Jan. 5. Meetings are held on the first floor of the County Office Building. For more information, or to file a complaint call 412-350-6945.
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