Philly Managing Director Brian Abernathy resigns, will leave in September

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Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Philly Managing Director Brian Abernathy resigns
Philly Managing Director Brian Abernathy is resigning in September.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Mayor Jim Kenney announced Tuesday morning that Philadelphia Managing Director Brian Abernathy will leave city government in September.

Abernathy has served as managing director since January 2019, and previously served as first deputy managing director beginning in January 2016. His last day will be September 4.

"I thank Brian for his service to the City of Philadelphia," said Kenney in a news release. "I've worked closely with many public servants throughout my career and few match Brian's level of integrity and commitment to making our city better. I particularly thank him for his tireless dedication while managing multiple unprecedented crises in the past four months. I will miss his counsel and measured leadership, and I wish him well on all of his future pursuits."

Abernathy has been at the helm with Kenney through the COVID-19 outbreak and protests and riots that followed in later months.

The city has been under fire for its response to the unrest with protesters calling for Abernathy's resignation.

During a budget hearing last month, Abernathy said he had trusted the city's police tactics and preparedness, adding, "I was dumbfounded by how out of touch I really was, and how I underestimated the anger and rage and frustration of folks I'm hired to serve."

In his resignation letter, Abernathy said, "Our city has weathered tremendous hardship over the past several months. In a short period of time, we've faced a pandemic, the worst economic crisis in a century, and important but difficult civil unrest. At the same time, we've seen a worsening opioid crisis, pervasive homelessness, and a rising murder rate. Throughout these months, there have been too many nights and weekends where my daughters have wondered where I was, and I've placed too many burdens on my wife's shoulders. I love my job and my city and have made these sacrifices willingly, but 2020 has taken a toll on my family, on my mind, on my body, and on my soul."

Abernathy said he is leaving city government with his head held high.

"I'm certainly proud of what I've been able to do ... and I know I've left a mark on the city and I know it's been a mark for the better. Of the things I regret, I look back and saw what happened on I-676 and my stomach turns, and much like Commissioner Outlaw and the mayor, that's not what our expectation was. I think throughout my career I've tried to be self reflective and aware and admit my mistakes publicly when they happen."

During a Tuesday afternoon news conference he said he hopes the next managing director is Black.

"There are deep racial divides here and I am painfully aware I can't put myself in the shoes of some of the people I serve because I was born with privileges that are unfair," Abernathy said.

Sources told Action News that Abernathy's resignation has been in the works for several weeks.

The mayor's office will conduct an organizational review of the structure of the managing director's office and plan a search process for the next managing director, the news release said.

Abernathy did not say what he was going to do after leaving his role with the city.