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Rev. Kenny Irby

Community Intervention Director, St. Petersburg Police Department

Servant leadership describes the life of Rev. Kenny Irby. He dutifully balances his roles as the St. Petersburg Police Department’s first Director of Community Intervention and senior pastor of the 127-year-old congregation at Historic


Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. 


In all that, he champions Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).


He’s also the co-creator and president of the Men & Women In the Making initiative, an innovative role modeling and academic enrichment program for minority youth in need that launched in 2015.

Rev. Irby is an independent visual consultant,

diversity trainer and former senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute for Media Studies where he created the once internationally recognized Photojournalism program in 1995 and the nationally recognized Write Field Wraparound Program, in partnership with The Tampa Bay Rays, and a group of local partners in 2011. The American Graduate Project celebrated his effort as one of the Top 10 programs in the nation for redirecting the dropout-to-prison pipeline in 2014. 


In 2016, after leaving his *20+ year post, Irby was honored by the National Press Photographers Association as the first John Long Ethics Award recipient; the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists (TBABJ) with their *Griot Drum Award for lifetime achievement. In 2018, he was honored with the Flame of Distinction: Igniting Vision Acquisition Award at the 35th Westcoast Center’s Men’s Conference.


Kenny travels widely, heralding the need for justice ministry, talking across differences and amplifying the voices of marginalized people and is a frequent teacher, lecturer and content judge. His expertise and contributions have been recognized with numerous distinctions: The 2007 Sprague Award for lifetime achievement awarded by the NPPA; chair of the jurors’ panel for the coveted Pulitzer Prize in the photojournalism categories, and he has served as a juror for the Hearst Collegiate Journalism Awards — to name a few.


His board labor includes the National Press Photographers Foundation, Vice-chair for Cross & Anvil Human Services, and Vice-chair of Trustee Board for the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg.

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