Lisa Wheeler-Bowman, Kenny Irby named to leadership roles in St. Pete Office of Equity
Lisa Wheeler-Bowman's replacement is coming soon.

lisa wheeler bowman headshot
'Both Rev. Irby and Ms. Wheeler-Bowman's combined experiences will positively impact our youth and families in ways that are vital to meeting our young people and families where they are.'

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch has named former St. Pete City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman and the Rev. Kenny Irby to key roles in the city’s Office of Equity. Both hires will serve in positions meant to bolster safe neighborhoods throughout the city.

Irby will serve as the city’s new Faith and Community Justice Liaison, while Wheeler-Bowman will start as the new Community Impact and Safety Liaison.

“In this era of increasing gun violence, negative social media influences, and the many impacts of poverty, we are committed to innovation and collaboration to provide safe neighborhoods for all in St. Petersburg,” Welch said.

In her role, Wheeler-Bowman will spearhead initiatives to support at-risk youth and create a safer city. Her role will be dedicated to nurturing partnerships and implementing new programs to address multifaceted needs among at-risk youth, while contributing to a stronger, more resilient community.

The role should feel right at home for Wheeler-Bowman, who served as a City Council member from 2016 until 2022 in District 7 covering parts of South St. Pete. She resigned from office after moving out of her district.

Wheeler-Brown has had success building relationships and establishing trust in communities. After her son was murdered in 2008, Wheeler-Bowman took to the streets herself to find answers. Her work shutting down the community’s “no-snitch” culture led to an arrest and conviction, earning Wheeler-Bowman national attention for her work.

“As a mother who lost a child to gun violence, Ms. Wheeler-Bowman brings a genuine perspective and clear lens to her role that will connect with youth and young adults, ensure that they have what they need to make better choices, and better support a safe pathway to success,” Welch said.

Irby is a photojournalist and leads ministry outreach to connect to youth in need and their families. He is the Senior Pastor at Historic Bethel AME Church, which is the city’s first and oldest predominantly African American church. He also serves as President of Men in the Making, a program that seeks to provide role models and mentoring services for youth.

Irby previously served as Director of Community Intervention and Juvenile Outreach for the St. Pete Police Department.

In his new role, Irby will work to strengthen engagement with the faith community by increasing awareness of city services and programs.

“Rev. Irby’s strong connections with faith leaders and their communities position the City to foster a deeper understanding of how we can better serve our residents,” Welch said. “Both Rev. Irby and Ms. Wheeler-Bowman’s combined experiences will positively impact our youth and families in ways that are vital to meeting our young people and families where they are.”

The Office of Equity was established in 2023 to establish and oversee equity policies and practices in the city. Carl Lavender Jr. serves as the interim Chief Equity Officer, where he leads efforts to advance intentional equity, a key pillar in Welch’s administration.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


  • Uri

    May 14, 2024 at 10:53 pm

    Oh boy. The same old same old same old same old same old empty rhetoric without results. Yawn. Nothing changes with these charlatans. We need DOERS not fast talkers. This is an ancient con job going on far too long with black America. They need change.

  • Liberia

    May 19, 2024 at 11:03 pm

    The Legislature needs to terminate local Offices of Equity post haste. Take a page from the libs and “just ban it.”

Comments are closed.


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