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Estelle Richman Honored as the 2024 Recipient of the Prestigious Philadelphia Award For Her Dedication to the City’s Collaborative Effort to Reduce Gun Deaths

A nationally celebrated public servant and social policy innovator, Richman has held leadership roles at every level of government, working to take care of people

PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Estelle B. Richman will receive the coveted Philadelphia Award for 2024 in its 103rd year. The Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Award selected Richman in recognition of her role as executive director of the Civic Coalition to Save Lives and her tireless efforts to drive the city-wide coordination of effective evidence-based gun violence intervention strategies. The award will be presented at a reception at the Ralph Roberts Forum at the Comcast Technology Center on June 12, 2024.

Richman had been retired for 10 years when the escalation of gun violence in Philadelphia compelled her to return to public service and lead the Civic Coalition to Save Lives. The collaborative partnership was formed in 2022 by civic, business, and philanthropic leaders to bring resources and support to City programs and community-based organizations battling the unrelenting crisis through intervention, an immediate approach to stop imminent harm. While Coalition leaders lacked expertise in gun violence specifically, they were motivated by a shared sense of accountability, progress in other cities and research and evidence underscoring the importance of intervention as the path to reducing gun violence in the near-term.

The Coalition marshaled resources to engage subject matter experts to identify ways to support, coordinate and expand existing efforts in Philadelphia to drive down gun violence among those at highest risk of killing or being killed. With Coalition support, Philadelphia’s City, public safety, and community-led gun violence intervention strategies have contributed to a reduction in Philadelphia’s gun violence by 20% in 2023 and an additional 38% so far in 2024.

“Throughout Estelle’s decades-long and storied career in every sector of government, she has never failed in her mission to see and serve the individuals central to policies and organizations she championed and led,” said Dr. Donald Guy Generals, chair of the Philadelphia Award Board of Trustees and president of Philadelphia Community College. “Her passion to serve people in need in the most effective and meaningful ways has contributed to a safer and healthier Philadelphia for everyone and her legacy of compassion and advocacy continues to inspire us all.”

Richman was instrumental in forming the Gun Violence Intervention Coordination Center (GVICC) in late 2023. The nonprofit organization coordinates the intervention work of various agencies and organizations to enhance service delivery to individuals at high risk of involvement in gun violence. Her hands-on approach and engagement with affected communities have ensured that their experiences shape the strategies employed to reduce shootings and homicides.

“Under Estelle’s leadership, The Civic Coalition to Save Lives has taken a model used successfully in other cities and made it work with tremendous success in Philadelphia, ” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Kevin J. Bethel. “She knows the importance of leveraging relationships both in and outside of government to have the most positive impact possible on the most impacted citizens. We are grateful for the partnership she has established and the resources she has delivered to help us serve, protect and save more Philadelphians.”

“I am deeply honored to receive the Philadelphia Award,” said Richman. “This recognition is a testament to the collective efforts of all those who have worked alongside me to create positive change. Together, we are making strides towards a better Philadelphia, and I am grateful to be part of this resilient and vibrant community.”

Founding Coalition members Pedro Ramos, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation, and Shawn McCaney, executive director of the William Penn Foundation, lauded Richman for her exceptional leadership and integrity. They note the trust and confidence Richman has earned from the Coalition’s partners and the community and her ability to enact bold change and navigate Philadelphia’s complex governmental landscape.

Throughout her career, Richman has held executive leadership roles at every level of government, including serving as Chief Operating Officer and Acting Deputy Secretary in the US Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama. Her tenure included a focus on access to safe, affordable housing as a precursor to addressing the gun violence crisis.

Richman also served as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare from 2003-2010, where she integrated services and expanded managed care. In 1999, she was appointed Deputy Managing Director of Social Services for Philadelphia, later becoming the first woman to hold the position of Managing Director for the City. She also served as the City of Philadelphia’s first non-physician Commissioner of Public Health. Her advocacy led to establishing Community Behavioral Health, overseeing mental health treatment through Medicaid and the first nonprofit corporation created by a large city government.

Richman earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Case Western Reserve University and a master’s in Clinical and Community Psychology from Cleveland State University. She serves on numerous national and local boards, continuing her lifelong commitment to public service and community advocacy.

It is the second year in a row that the Philadelphia Award has been awarded to a member of the Civic Coalition to Save Lives in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the civic and cultural improvement of the Philadelphia area. Sharmain Matlock-Turner was the 2023 Philadelphia Award recipient.

For more information about the Philadelphia Award, please visit

About the Philadelphia Award

Founded by editor, philanthropist, community leader, and Pulitzer Prize winning-author, Edward W. Bok in 1921, the annual Philadelphia Award recognizes a citizen of the Philadelphia region who acted and served on behalf of the best interests of the community in the previous year. Since its inception, the Philadelphia Award has recognized the achievements of more than 80 distinguished individuals, including industrialists, educators, lawyers, political figures, scientists, physicians, members of the clergy, social activists, philosophers, musicians, artists, architects, and writers.


Media ​​Contact:

Scott Sauer

Jacobson Strategic Communications

[email protected]
(484) 350-9472

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