Kendra Brooks is the first Working Families Party member elected to Philadelphia City Council in history. Kendra has deep roots working across movement-building organizations throughout Philadelphia, where her focus has been on the implementation of restorative justice practices in schools and communities, fighting school privatization efforts and gun violence in Nicetown, and organizing with 215 People’s Alliance on their Steering Committee.
Kendra’s lived experiences guide her focus on City Council. She was raised in Nicetown, Philadelphia, where she still proudly resides with her four children. As a young single mother, Kendra started working to pay her way through the Community College of Philadelphia as a nursing assistant. She was a proud member of 1199C and grew to understand the importance of the labor movement to working families. She received her undergraduate degree from Temple University and went on to receive a Master’s in Business Administration from Eastern University.
For seventeen years, Kendra worked at Easterseals, where she connected families with disabilities to important community programs and resources. She focused on neighborhood coordination of summer programs for children with special needs. As a result of deep budget cuts made by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, the program’s funding was eliminated, and Kendra lost her job. Afterwards, it was difficult for Kendra to find work with a comparable income, and she eventually lost her house to a sheriff’s sale. Kendra’s commitment to housing justice and her understanding of the struggles of Philadelphia families were shaped by these experiences.
Kendra began organizing with Parents United for Public Education when a charter school operator announced it would take over Steel Elementary, where her children attended school and she served as a member of the school’s Parent Advisory Council. She mobilized neighbors, parents, and families through one-on-one conversations, community meetings, and strategic outreach to build momentum against the charter school takeover. After Kendra and her neighbors successfully organized parents to vote against the plan, the operator ultimately backed down. Her activism grew from there. Kendra went on to found Stand Up Nicetown and the Our City, Our Schools coalition, which helped bring the School District of Philadelphia back to local control. Due to her work fighting for education justice, Kendra was appointed by Mayor Jim Kenney to the school board nominating panel.
In addition to her parent and community organizing, Kendra was an active members of the 215 People’s Alliance Steering Committee. In this position, she helped lead efforts through the Alliance For A Just Philadelphia—a coalition of 30 community-based organizations fighting for progressive change in Philadelphia—to draft The People’s Platform. The platform is a comprehensive set of progressive reforms on issues ranging from workers’ rights to healthy schools to criminal justice and beyond. As a Councilmember, Kendra is focused on addressing the affordable housing crisis, advocating for well-funded public education, and championing a Philadelphia Green New Deal.