De Blasio names 3 Latinos to human rights commission
Attempting to quell recent criticism about a lack of Latino appointees to top government positions, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday named nine new members to the city's Commission on Human Rights—including three Latinos.
“Hailing from Brooklyn to Brazil and ranging from rabbis to pastors, today’s appointees represent a diverse, progressive and exceptionally qualified group sharing an unwavering commitment to safeguard the rights and dignity of all people in New York City,” de Blasio said in a statement.
The Commission on Human Rights is charged with investigating and prosecuting complaints from New Yorkers whose rights might have been violated. In addition, it educates the public on the law through different educational and outreach programs.
Carmelyn Malalis, a lawyer at Outten & Golden LLP, was appointed commission chair. Her experience has focused on advocacy and pro bono projects with organizations that advocate on behalf of low-wage and immigrant workers, LGBT employees and women in the workplace.
“I’m confident that with Carmelyn at the helm of CCHR, this agency will be a robust enforcer of our fundamental civil rights and improve community relations among New Yorkers throughout the five boroughs,” de Blasio said.
The mayor also appointed eight new commissioners to the agency, including these three Latinos:
— Ana Oliveira, a native of Brazil who is the president and chief executive office of the The New York Women’s Foundation. She previously led the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and co-chaired the Young Men’s Initiative.
— Catherine Albisa, who is of Cuban descent. Albisa is a constitutional and human rights lawyer, and the co-founder and director of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative.
— Arnaldo Segarra, a Puerto Rican who grew up in East Harlem. Segarra is a well-known activist, according to a press release provided by the mayor’s office. He served during the Lindsey administration as special assistant for Puerto Rican affairs.
The other appointees are Steven Choi, director of the New York Immigration Coalition; Domna Stanton, a member of the Human Rights Watch and a professor at CUNY Graduate Center; Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, senior rabbi at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah and a human rights activist; Jonathan Greenspun, of Brooklyn, a political consultant and managing director at Mercury Public affairs who previously served as the community affairs commissioner from 2002 to 2006; and the Rev. Dr. Demetrius Carolina, pastor of the First Central Baptist Church on Staten Island.
During the past few weeks, the National Institute for Latino Policy and the Campaign for Fair Latino Representation have rallied against de Blasio for not meeting with them to discuss the lack of Latinos in his administration.
The group also protested outside of Gracie Mansion earlier this week during an event to celebrate Puerto Rican heritage.
In response to today's announcement, the group took partial credit for putting pressure on the mayor, while highlighting they are still hoping to meet with him.
“We continue to call for a meeting with Mayor de Blasio to discuss our concerns about his poor record of Latino appointments, and the underutilization of Latinos in the general municipal government workforce,” Janet Alvarez the lead coordinator for the Campaign for Latino Representation, said in a statement.
Earlier this month, during the annual Somos El Futuro conference in Puerto Rico, de Blasio delivered a speech at the closing reception during which he highlighted his administration’s diversity.
City Hall officials said de Blasio has increased the total representation of Latino agency heads to 14 percent compared to 9 percent in the prior administration.