Mayor Adams Appoints Ronald Porcelli As Director Of NYC Unity Project

June 13, 2024

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced the appointment of Ronald Porcelli, Esq. as the director of the NYC Unity Project.

The NYC Unity Project, a unit within the New York City Mayor’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice (MOERJ), works across city agencies to uplift, engage, and better serve New York City’s diverse LGBTQ+ community, leading centralized outreach, engagement, and strategic programming. Porcelli previously served as acting director of the NYC Unity Project. Mayor Adams also announced that NYC Unity Project will oversee the city’s Family Acceptance of LGBTQ+ Youth Initiative, a groundbreaking program aimed at fostering acceptance and support for LGBTQ+ youth among parents, caregivers, families, and communities. 

“Ronald Porcelli is a true public servant who leads with their lived experience to make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers,” said Mayor Adams. “Porcelli worked their way up the NYC Unity Project, starting as a senior advisor to now become its director, growing, and learning at every step of the way. Their ability to turn advocacy into action and passion into policies has helped countless members of the LGBTQ+ community find the services they need. I applaud Ronald for all their service to the city and look forward to the continued work they will do on behalf of all New Yorkers. Finally, with our Family Acceptance of LGBTQ+ Youth Initiative, our city is living up to its reputation as a place that opens its arms to everyone searching for a home, especially for young people.” 

“… fight for equity, ensuring every voice is heard …”

“Ronald has been on the frontlines of the fight for equity, ensuring every voice is heard, every person is seen, and every LGBTQ+ individual is welcomed with open arms by city government,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Ana J. Almanzar. “Now, as the director of the NYC Unity Project, Ronald will continue his unwavering work for providing holistic services to LGBTQ+ New Yorkers in need. This Pride Month, and beyond, our administration will continue to stand on the side of justice and acceptance for all New Yorkers, especially with our LGBTQ+ community.”  

“I love the NYC Unity Project. The critical work that we develop not only benefits but transforms the lives of the LGBTQ+ community, providing me with both personal and professional fulfillment,” said NYC Unity Project Director and Senior LGBTQ+ Policy Advisor in the Mayor’s Office Ronald Porcelli. “As a Latinx, nonbinary person who has grappled with much of the pain and challenges facing the community, I uphold this work as deeply sacred. It is truly the honor of a lifetime to be able to serve my community, and I hope to continue expanding the NYC Unity Project’s programming while building additional partnerships across the nonprofit world, private sector, and academia. From senior policy advisor, deputy director, and now director, I am proud of the progress we have made in continuing to advance New York City toward its famed mantle as the home of Stonewall and a mecca in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. As we continue to move from basic equality and rights to advancing equity, uplifting racial equity, and correcting past persecution and disinvestment, I look forward to a future where LGBTQ+ people, particularly youth, do not suffer to be themselves, boldly partake in our shared humanity, and feel supported and uplifted through the changing tides of life.” 

“Ronald Porcelli is a dedicated leader who has worked tirelessly to increase opportunities and access for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers, especially our youth,” said New York City Chief Equity Officer and MOERJ Commissioner Sideya Sherman. “During their tenure, Ronald has significantly broadened NYC Unity Project’s impact — launching new health equity, career exploration, and capacity building programs while cultivating meaningful public, private, and community partnerships. In their new role as director, I am confident Ronald will continue to drive innovation and collaboration across city agencies and partners to deliver the quality programming and services our city’s LGBTQ+ community deserves. I look forward to this exciting new chapter for the NYC Unity Project.” 

New York City Department of Youth and Community Development congratulates Ronald Porcelli on being named director of the NYC Unity Project. Ronald has left an indelible mark on our initiatives serving the LGBTQ+ community — including SYEP Pride and Unity Works — while balancing candor, compassion, and unwavering dedication,” said New York City Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) Commissioner Keith Howard. “From Opportunity Starts with a Home to growing our employer partnerships across the private sector, the NYC Unity Project has been instrumental in lifting up the most vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community. The groundbreaking Family Acceptance of LGBTQ+ Youth Initiative takes that work one step further. DYCD looks forward to our ongoing partnership with Ronald and the NYC Unity Project in supporting Mayor Adams’ steadfast commitment to LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.” 

“As the city agency that actively fights anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in New York City, NYC Unity Project under the dedicated leadership of Ronald Porcelli has been an invaluable partner for our agency,” said New York City Commission on Human Rights Commissioner and Chair (CCHR) Annabel Palma. “CCHR is also proud to celebrate the administration’s announcement of the Family Acceptance of LGBTQ+ Youth Initiative. Fostering channels of dialogue between family members about gender identity and sexuality is critical to making sure LGBTQ+ youth thrive in our city. We look forward to continuing the work of centering and uplifting LGBTQ+ voices and experiences alongside the NYC Unity Project and the Family Acceptance LGBTQ+ Youth Initiative.” 

“Ronald Porcelli is a committed public servant and a staunch advocate for the LGBTQ+ community,” said Mayor’s Office Community Affairs Unit (CAU) Commissioner Fred Kreizman. “Their appointment as director of the NYC Unity Project is well deserved. CAU looks forward to working together to engage the LGBTQ+ community and connect New Yorkers to important city resources.” 

“Good health starts with a loving, accepting family and we will do whatever we can to make sure LGBTQ+ youth are supported,” said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “When the NYC Unity Project succeeds, our city is healthier. We are so grateful to the NYC Unity Project for their leadership and commitment to promoting equity and health in New York City.”  

“Ronald Porcelli’s appointment as director of the NYC Unity Project reflects an unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community and their journey from advocacy to leadership exemplify the spirit of service and inclusivity that is at the heart of our city’s values.” says New York City Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health Executive Director Eva Wong. “NYC Unity Project is a beacon of hope and support, ensuring that individuals with diverse background or identities can have access to the resources and care they need.” 

Developed in partnership with the NYC Unity Project, MOERJ, and DOHMH and implemented by Church Avenue Merchant Block Association (CAMBA), the Family Acceptance of LGBTQ+ Youth Initiative underscores the city’s commitment to promoting the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth through critical upstream interventions. Research shows the detrimental effects of family rejection on LGBTQ+ youth, including increased mental health issues, substance use, sexual risk behaviors, and risk of homelessness. Family acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth is linked with higher self-esteem, reduced depression, healthier decision-making, and greater overall well-being throughout life. The Family Acceptance of LGBTQ+ Youth Initiative seeks to address these challenges by fostering supportive environments across parents, caregivers, families, educators, and community members, providing them with the tools and resources to support LGBTQ+ youth effectively. The program promotes the acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth through educational sessions, counseling support groups, role model stories, marketing campaigns, and short films highlighting narratives in support of LGBTQ+ youth.  

Services are open to all New Yorkers, free of charge and available in English and Spanish. For more information or to sign up for services, submit an interest form. To locate other services for LGBTQ+ youth, visit the newly relaunched NYC Unity Project. To locate LGBTQ+ health services, visit the NYC Health Map

The Adams administration has made continued investments and policy reforms to support the LGBTQ+ community. Together with the NYC Unity Project and DYCD, Mayor Adams announced an investment of nearly $6.7 million to provide new and expanded services for the LGBTQ+ community. These new services provide wide-ranging support that include first-of-its-kind funding for capacity building of transgender and gender non-conforming /non-binary (TGNCNB)-led nonprofits, legal services, and support for homeless youth.  

In another effort to support the LGBTQ+ community, Mayor Adams signed Executive Order 32 to protect access to gender-affirming health care in New York City. The executive order prevents the use of city resources to detain any individual who is providing or receiving gender-affirming health care services in New York City. Additionally, the executive order denies the use of resources by the City of New York to cooperate with any prosecution or investigation by another state of an individual for providing or receiving gender-affirming care.  

Mayor Adams also successfully advocated for and helped get the first-ever St. Patrick’s Day parade on Staten Island to allow an LGBTQ+ delegation to participate, ending a multi-year dispute in the borough.  

Finally, with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) Community Affairs Bureau, the Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, and CAU, the administration announced a new process for New Yorkers to contact the NYPD to re-examine cases involving LGBTQ+ victims, including cold cases. 

Ronald Porcelli (Pronouns: They/Them) 

Ronald Porcelli has served as senior policy advisor, deputy director, and, since December 2021, the acting director of the NYC Unity Project. Under their leadership, NYC Unity Project has expanded services across all five boroughs in the areas of economic and community development, health equity, and acceptance and antidiscrimination with a focus on advancing equity for the LGBTQ+ community, particularly LGBTQ+ youth, LGBTQ+ people of color, and the TGNCNB community. 

Before joining city government, Porcelli served as a practicing attorney, representing clients in human rights litigation and advocacy.  

Porcelli earned a juris doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law and is a member of the Florida and New York Bar. 

Porcelli will report to Chief Equity Officer and MOERJ Commissioner Sherman. 

“It’s been 55 years since the Stonewall riots and LGBTQ+ people, particularly youth, are still at risk and in need of support,” said Stacy Lentz, co-owner, Stonewall Inn and CEO, Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative. “We congratulate Ronald Porcelli’s appointment as NYC Unity Project director and the launch of the Family Acceptance of LGBTQ+ Youth Initiative. Ronald’s passion for our community and New York City along with their extensive experience will be a winning combination for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. The Stonewall Inn celebrates this new chapter in LGBTQ+ equity.” 

“I commend Mayor Adams on his decision to appoint Ronald Porcelli as the director of the NYC Unity Project,” said Sean Coleman, founder and CEO, Destination Tomorrow: The Bronx LGBTQ+ Center. “Ronald is the right person to lead this office and fulfill this challenging mandate. Ronald leads with authenticity, good humor, expertise, and a wealth of experience.  They’ve demonstrated a deep commitment to advancing equity for LGBTQ+ people, particularly LGBTQ+ people of color and TGNCNB people. In their time at the NYC Unity Project, Ronald successfully expanded the unit to serve those most marginalized in the community. Through a wealth of government knowledge and ability to forge partnerships, they’ve demonstrated a remarkable aptitude in fostering a first-of-its-kind unit that supports and uplifts LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. As LGBTQ+ and TGNCNB people face mounting challenges, I am confident Ronald will boldly lead with savvy, style, and extraordinary passion.” 

“The Ali Forney Center celebrates the appointment of Ronald Porcelli as director of NYC’s Unity Project, serving the LGBTQ+ community and overseeing vital services for our city’s LGBTQ+ youth,” said Alex Roque, president and director, The Ali Forney Center. “Ronald is a staunch advocate for vulnerable LGBTQ+ New Yorkers and has not been afraid of boldly articulating the needs of those most marginalized in the community. Over the years, Ronald has been a fierce leader working to ensure that city funding and this unique program meet the goal of providing educational and career pathways for homeless LGBTQ+ young people. Ronald is a bold visionary in fostering educational and economic opportunities to empower the LGBTQ+ community while developing much-needed culturally sensitive services to uplift our community. Their innovative, thoughtful, and dedicated commitment has had a transformative impact on how we operate workforce programming. We look forward to continuing our work with Ronald as they lead the Unity Project to care for our most vulnerable youth.” 

“We couldn’t be happier for Ronald on this well-deserved appointment,” said Rosalind Black, director of citywide housing, Legal Services NYC. “As a former staff attorney in our Manhattan office, Ronald was a tireless advocate for their clients — organizing and empowering communities, suing powerful developers to enforce tenant rights, and advocating on behalf of vulnerable LGBTQIA+ clients to ensure they received the resources and support they needed. We have no doubt they will continue that zealous advocacy as the new director of the NYC Unity Project and can’t wait to see what more they will accomplish. We also look forward to continuing our partnership with the NYC Unity Project to bring safety and stability to the lives of LGBTQIA+ communities across the city.”  

“On behalf of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and National LGBT Chamber of Commerce NY, we’re delighted to congratulate Ronald Porcelli on their appointment as director of the NYC Unity Project,” said Justin Nelson, co-founder and president, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “This initiative marks the first-ever citywide commitment focused on supporting and empowering New York’s LGBTQ+ youth. We are confident that Ronald will lead this initiative with passion and dedication, and we look forward to collaborating with Ronald and their team in service of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.” 

“The staff of the American LGBTQ+ Museum have worked with Ronald Porcelli on past LGBTQ+ youth programs,” said Ben Garcia, executive director, American LGBTQ+ History Museum. “We welcome Ronald’s appointment as NYC Unity Project director and trust they will lead with characteristic care, collegiality, and vision.” 

“With funding from the NYC Unity Project, CAMBA’s LGBTQ+ Education and Acceptance Project (LEAP) promotes family and community acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth to improve their physical and mental health outcomes,” said Lisa Koffler, senior director of HIV prevention and health promotion, CAMBA. “From our educational workshops and caregiver support groups to our individual and family counseling, conflict mediation, social marketing campaigns, the development and distribution of parent role model stories, and even an LGBTQ+ youth filmmaking workshop series, CAMBA is grateful to Ronald Porcelli and the NYC Unity Project for enabling us to carry out this life-saving work.”  

“In these uncertain times, LGBTQ+ youth in New York need strong leaders and steadfast commitments to improving their well-being and experiences in the world,” said Dr. Carla Smith, CEO, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. “We are hopeful that Ronald’s appointment as director of the NYC Unity Project will mean concerted efforts to address the range of issues facing queer youth in our city including housing, family support, mental health, economic opportunities, and more. We look forward to continued partnership with Ronald and the NYC Unity Project along with the broader municipal government apparatus to serve LGBTQ+ youth as they deserve.”  

“… serve our community more effectively.”

“I am thrilled to share that in 2023, The Okra Project was honored to receive the Unity Grant in support of our mission,” said Gabrielle Souza, executive director, The Okra Project. “This generous grant enabled us to expand our programming significantly and enhance our development practices, allowing us to serve our community more effectively. The NYC Unity Project is renowned for its unwavering dedication to uplifting and empowering the LGBTQIA+ community. Their support extends beyond direct services; they bolster fellow organizations, creating a broader network of access and assistance across various sectors. I am excited about the future and look forward to the continued impact of their work under the leadership of Ronald Porcelli.” 

“The New York Transgender Advocacy Group congratulates Ronald Porcelli on their appointment as director of the NYC Unity Project,” said Kiara St. James, executive director, New York Transgender Advocacy Group. “Ronald’s leadership promises to further advance the city’s efforts in supporting and empowering the TGNCNBI community, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to thrive in an inclusive and equitable environment. Ronald’s appointment demonstrates why New York City continues to lead the nation in investing in the transgender and non-binary community. While our nation has seen a rise in anti-trans legislation, New York City stands out by providing equity to the TGNCNBI community. This commitment underscores the city’s dedication to true sustainability, allowing for real autonomy for those who were once voiceless.” 

“Translatinx Network congratulates Ronald Porcelli on their appointment as director of NYC’s Unity Project,” said Cristina Herrera, founder and CEO, Translatinx Network. “Under Ronald’s leadership, young trans, intersex, and queer youth will be empowered to equitably move forward on their path to progress. Ronald’s commitment to and respect for all in the community ensures that the program will remain vibrant, successful, and affirming.” 

“… support queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming students …”

“A warm congratulations from The City University of New York LGBTQIA+ Consortium to Ronald Porcelli on their appointment as director of the NYC Unity Project,” said Dr. Allie Brashears, director, and JC Carlson, associate director, The City University of New York (CUNY) LGBTQIA+ Consortium. “The CUNY LGBTQIA+ Consortium is committed to serving LGBTQIA+ and ally students on 25 campuses throughout the five boroughs of New York City. CUNY is the nation’s leading urban university serving more than 225,000 degree-seeking students and awarding 50,000 degrees each year. More than 80 percent of the CUNY’s graduates remain in New York after graduation. We value our partnerships within the community and with dedicated stakeholders like the NYC Unity Project. We are confident that under Ron’s leadership, they will support queer, transgender, and gender non-conforming students throughout the university system so that they live pridefully and thrive.” 

“On behalf of the Free to Be Youth Project, we are pleased to congratulate Ronald on this appointment,” said Amy Leipziger, project director, Free to Be Youth Project. “Ronald has dedicated their career to uplifting the needs, and voices, of the diverse LGBTQ+ community in New York City. Ronald’s passion and dedication have continued to create viable solutions to systemic inequities that impact the LGBTQ+ community. We look forward to continuing our partnership in the future.”  

“As queer and trans youth face legislative and interpersonal attacks across the country, New York City is lucky to have Ronald Porcelli’s leadership at the NYC Unity Project,” said Adam Odsess-Rubin, founding artistic director, National Queer Theater. “LGBTQ+ youth face disproportionate rates of bullying, isolation, and suicidal thoughts, compared to their straight and cis peers. However, when supportive adults provide support and services, queer youth have the opportunity to thrive. All of us at National Queer Theater are grateful to have Ronald in our corner.”  

Photo credit: Harlem pride event.

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