Biography

Adrian Shanker is an organizer by birth. Inspired by his grandfathers, one a national union leader, Al Shanker.  The other a psychologist and gender theorist, Dr. Ronald Levant, Adrian has been advocating for social justice and LGBT equality for more than a decade.

Adrian is the Founder and Executive Director of Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, which is planned for Allentown, PA as the first LGBT community center in the region. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Directors for ACLU of Pennsylvania and is Chair of the LGBT Caucus of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.

Adrian served as President of Equality Pennsylvania from 2011-2013. During his tenure, the organization more than doubled its operating budget and tripled its staffing levels. He also previously served a three-year term on the Human Relations Commission of the City of Allentown, the city agency charged with enforcement of their civil rights laws.

Shanker has led successful campaigns to expand equality in municipalities throughout PA, including passage of a non-discrimination law in Bethlehem, PA and equal spousal benefits in Allentown and Easton, PA. He was a leader in the effort to pass two landmark civil rights laws in Philadelphia, their 2011 ‘Equal Benefits Bill,’ requiring large city contractors to offer equal spousal benefits to their employees and their 2013 ‘LGBT Equality Bill’ which created a first-in-the-nation equality tax credit for businesses offering equal spousal benefits or transgender health care. In response to Adrian’s request, the PPL Corporation, a Fortune 300 company with more than 15,000 employees, added Gender Identity to their corporate non-discrimination policy.

Described by Washington DC reporter Colby Itkowitz as “a force in Pennsylvania politics,” Adrian was a leader in the successful campaigns to encourage Senator Bob Casey to endorse marriage equality and Senator Pat Toomey to endorse the Employment Non Discrimination Act. He was a member of Senator Arlen Specter’s LGBT Steering Committee during his final campaign in 2010. In 2012, he was elected as an Alternate Delegate for President Obama to the Democratic National Convention and later that year served on the Personnel Committee of the Transition Team for Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.

Adrian graduated Cum Laude from Muhlenberg College with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and Religion Studies and he is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Political Leaders Fellowship at the Center for Progressive Leadership.

Adrian has received numerous prestigious honors, including the Bar Association of Lehigh County’s ‘Liberty Bell Award, the City of Allentown’s ‘Human Relations Award’, Anne Frank Center USA’s ‘Spirit of Anne Frank Award’, and GLSEN Hudson Valley’s ‘Leadership Award’. In January 2012, The Philadelphia Gay News named him ‘Person of the Year’ for his success in advancing in LGBT equality at the local level throughout PA and in 2013, Adrian was one of six LGBT speakers at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington: The National Action to Realize the Dream.

He has been featured on CBS Evening News, CQ Weekly, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Diversity Matters Radio on Voice of America and has delivered lectures or facilitated workshops at numerous colleges and national conferences including a workshop on LGBT employment discrimination at a White House conference in 2011.