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November 17, 2015

Kenney taps Duane Morris attorney as chief diversity officer

Nolan Atkinson Jr. will work to reduce racial barriers in the public workforce

Mayor-elect Jim Kenney has named Nolan Atkinson Jr. as his administration's chief diversity officer, a newly-created position designed to reduce racial barriers in the public workforce.

Kenney formally will announce Atkinson at a Wednesday morning press conference scheduled at City Hall. He also will introduce Emily Mattleman Kaplan as chief integrity officer and Amy Kurland as inspector general, a position she currently holds under Mayor Michael Nutter.

Atkinson, a former Lower Merion commissioner and an attorney at Duane Morris, owns a resume filled with efforts to improve diversity. He currently serves as the first chief diversity and inclusion officer at Duane Morris and is the founder of the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group, a consortium of law firms and corporations seeking to increase racial diversity in Philadelphia's biggest law firms.

Atkinson won the inaugural Diversity Leadership Award from the American Bar Association and previously served on Nutter's Advisory Task Force on Ethics and Campaign Finance reform. He also successfully petitioned to have his great-grandfather posthumously admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar, a right he was denied in 1847 due to racial discrimination.

Atkinson told the Philadelphia Tribune that he welcomed the opportunity to serve the city under Kenney.

"I think when you talk about diversity and inclusion, you talk about how you can bring people together," Atkinson said. "And you can do that through all levels of government in the city, so we be sure to maximize the best of our citizens so that we can be a world-class city."

Kaplan, selected to serve as chief integrity officer, spent nearly 10 years serving as the vice president and policy director at the Committee of Seventy.

Kurland, a holdover from the Nutter administration, will continue serving as inspector general. She previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.