PHILADELPHIA – Concluding a nationwide search, the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) today announced Sheila Alexander-Reid has been appointed executive director of PHL Diversity, a key business development division of the PHLCVB. With decades of leadership experience in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and as a champion for marginalized communities, Alexander-Reid will oversee PHL Diversity’s efforts to promote Philadelphia as an inclusive, welcoming destination for meetings and conventions.
In 2015, Alexander-Reid was appointed by Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser as executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Affairs. She advised the Mayor on the implementation of discrimination protections and diversity and inclusion policies that supported D.C.’s LGBTQ residents. Alexander-Reid was instrumental in the city’s successful fight for marriage equality, and she also served on a policy committee advising the Biden-Harris campaign. She often collaborated with Destination DC, a destination marketing organization similar to PHLCVB charged with attracting diverse conventions.
Most recently, Alexander-Reid served as senior vice president, of business development at BiasSync, a firm that helps organizations more effectively assess and manage unconscious bias in the work environment.
“Sheila’s experience is at the key intersection of diversity, equity and inclusion, strategic planning, and business development,” said Gregg Caren, PHLCVB president, and CEO. “She has not only the professional expertise to lead the business division, but a strong background in DEI advocacy that will continue to ensure PHL Diversity’s efforts are always community-focused. Thanks to the work of PHL Diversity, the PHLCVB has been known as a leader in diversity in the tourism and hospitality industry for more than 30 years. I look forward to the new energy and vision Sheila will bring to the organization.”
In the last decade, Alexander-Reid earned certificates in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University and Stanford Graduate School of Business and leadership training from Victory Institute. At the 2019 LGBTQ Leadership Conference at Stanford University, she presented about the intersectionality of race and gender, which launched her personal ambitions for full-time work focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“I look forward to continuing my career of advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion, and progress in the great city of Philadelphia by leading PHL Diversity,” said Alexander-Reid. “And I look forward to continuing to support the mission of the PHLCVB and PHL Diversity and cannot wait to work with its well-established board and close partners in the city and beyond.”
In this role, she will lead implementation and strategy to develop and synergize relationships with industry and government stakeholders across Philadelphia’s diverse community. She will lead PHL Diversity with the goal of increasing the net convention, meetings, and tourism brand value of Philadelphia as a welcoming DEI convention destination, while also advancing opportunities for growth of local businesses as a result of increased events and visitation to the city.
“Sheila has an impressive mix of personal experience, career development, higher education learning, and a strong business acumen that will lead PHL Diversity into the future,” said Richard Lee Snow, chair of PHL Diversity and regional development director of the United Negro College Fund, Washington, D.C. Region. “She follows an impressive list of leaders who have held this position and I am confident she will continue that legacy.”
Alexander-Reid founded two agencies of which she remains active, Branding4Change, a boutique branding and training agency focused on DEI, and Women in the Life, a social justice non-profit organization that creates safe spaces and social gatherings for lesbians of color.
She also spent 32 years with the Washington City Paper where she served as director of strategic engagement and development manager focusing on sales and marketing. Alexander-Reid holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Spelman College, a historically Black college. She lives with her partner, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, a documentary filmmaker, writer, and Philadelphia native.
Alexander-Reid will start with the PHLCVB on September 7, 2022, and report to Maria Grasso, senior vice president, of the convention division.