PM Press Blog

A major leader in the Lehigh Valley LGBT community is joining the Biden administration

By Molly Bilinski
The Morning Call

The founder and former executive director of Allentown’s Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center has taken a new job with the federal government.

Adrian Shanker will serve as senior adviser on LGBTQI+ health equity through President Joe Biden’s office of the secretary for health, according to a post on Shanker’s Facebook page. The agency is part of the federal Department of Health and Human Services.

Shanker made the announcement “with deep humility and profound excitement,” according to the post.

The Morning Call reached out to Shanker for comment.

Shanker resigned from Bradbury-Sullivan in March, after almost two decades in the Valley. He most recently worked as executive director of California’s Spahr Center, a LGBTQ resource and HIV care and prevention hub.

“I did not anticipate a short tenure at Spahr, however I am confident that the organization is in a strong position to continue its positive momentum in service to Marin’s LGBTQI+ and HIV+ communities,” according to Shanker’s post.

This is not the first time Shanker has worked with the federal government. The 2009 Muhlenberg College graduate last year was chosen as one of eight new members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

“I am deeply honored to be appointed by the Biden-Harris Administration to serve as a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS,” Shanker said in a news release at the time of the announcement. “Health equity is an unmet dream at the center of the challenges faced by HIV/AIDS around our country and across the globe. I am grateful that President Biden, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine have prioritized health equity, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside the other PACHA members as we all work toward the end of the HIV epidemic.”

Bill McGlinn, a former top Muhlenberg College official and Lehigh Valley LGBTQ community leader, was named as Shanker’s interim replacement in March at the center until its board finds a permanent replacement.

Shanker spent nearly 17 years in the Lehigh Valley doing LGBTQ advocacy. He founded the center in June 2014 and led the fundraising, property acquisition and program development from the startup phase to its current annual budget of $1.6 million with two dozen employees.

Under his leadership, the center gained a statewide reputation for promoting LGBTQ health. He created the biannual Pennsylvania LGBTQ Health Needs Assessment, which is one of the largest and most consequential state-level LGBTQ health data collections in the country.

Shanker is also the author of “Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health” and “Crisis and Care: Queer Activist Responses to a Global Pandemic,” the latter published in August.