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Onondaga County/Syracuse Commission on Human Rights

John H. Mulroy Civic Center
15th Floor East 
421 Montgomery Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
(315) 435-3565

Our office is staffed from
8 am to 4 pm. Mon - Fri.


NAACP Syracuse Onondaga County's 2024 Linda Brown-Robinson and Van B. Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient

CONGRATULATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER AGNES MCCRAY NAACP Syracuse Onondaga County's 2024 Linda Brown-Robinson and Van B. Robinson Lifetime Achievement Award recipient

Human Rights Commissioner Agnes McCray (center), Human Rights Commissioner Paul Harvey (left), Human Rights Activist Charles Hudson (Agnes' son), and Human Rights Commissioner Lauren Rosenstein.

DECEMBER 10, 2021

HR Day

Pictured in photo left to right Executive Director of Human Rights Montanette Murphy, Human Rights Commissioner Lanessa Chaplin, Esq., Human Rights Commissioner Nodesia Hernandez, and Chief Diversity Officer Monica Williams.

County Executive J. Ryan McMahon, II, and Mayor Ben Walsh issued a joint proclamtion observing every year on December 10th as Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Commission Members

The members of the Human Rights Commission include up to 24 Commissioners who are confirmed by vote of the Onondga County Legislature to serve staggered three-year terms. This includes 18 members appointed by the County Executive subject to Legislature approval.  6 of those appointments are based on Legislator recommendation.  6 additional members are appointed directly by the Mayor of Syracuse.

On June 7, 2016 the appointment of the 12 new Human Rights Commissioners by the County Executive was confirmed by the Onondaga County Legislature.  An additional 4 new Commissioners appointed by the Legislature were confirmed on July 5, 2016.  An additional 6 new Commissioners were appointed by the Mayor of the City of Syracuse and began to participate actively in Commission meetings and activities in February 2017. 

Commissioners of Human Rights

LaToya M. Jones
Rev. Roosevelt Baum
Rev. Roosevelt Baums
Lauren Rosenstein
Hassina Adams
Agnes McCray
Christopher Gilkes
Christopher Gilkes
Samia Al-Fareh
Mia Wade
Mia Wade
Leo Sanchez
Leo Sanchez
Bishop Alex
Bishop Alex
Liam O'Connor
Liam O'Connor
Paul Harvey
Paul Harvey


The following people served as a Commissioner of Human Rights between 2016 and 2021:

  • Khadijo Abdulkadir
  • Ali Adan
  • Reverend H Bernard Alex
  • Steve Butler
  • Suzanna Carman
  • Bruce Carter, PhD
  • Sanjay Chhablani
  • Shui-Kai Chin
  • Crystal M. Doody, Esq.
  • Robert Gardino
  • Starr Guckert
  • David E. Pasinski
  • Rabbi Dan Fellman
  • Reverend Douglas P. Mackey
  • Chol Majok
  • Suzette M. Melendez, Esq.
  • Migdalia Morales
  • Montanette C. Murphy
  • Francis Parks
  • Gabriel Ramos
  • Shelley Skellington
  • Mary Alice Smothers
  • Joyce M. Suslovic
  • Jeffrey Tamburo
  • Tricia Wittkowski
  • Rosalie Young

The Human Rights Commission was founded in 1963 as an entity of the City of Syracuse.  It later became a joint City of Syracuse - Onondaga County entity.  In 1997 the Onondaga County/Syracuse Human Rights Commission became an entity that was housed in and supported by Onondaga County.  The City retained the ability to appoint 6 members of the Commission. 

The County Legislature defunded the Commission's staff in 2010, but 2 key functions of the old Commission office were retained, and 2 related staff were transferred into other County Departments. The Commission as a body did not meet for 5 years.  Then in February 2015 the Onondaga County Legislature passed legislation to renew and stengthen the Human Rights Commission, to charge the Commission staff with providing support to the new Justice Center Oversight Committee (JCOC) in addition to their regular Commisison duites, and to restore a budget line for a Commission office and an Executive Director
(View 2015 Local Laws D Establishing the JCOC & E Renewing the Human Rights Commission)

The Human Rights office was re-opened in August 2015 with 2 staff - an Executive Director and one Human Rights Specialist.  After the appointment of an initial group of 16 new Commissioners were confirmed by the County Legislature, the first meeting of the new Human Rights Commission was held on Wednesday Sept. 14, 2016.


Executive Director of Human Rights for Onondaga County


Montanette Murphy

Office Objectives:

  • Provide diversity training to all county employees and to non-profit human services agencies
  • Provide presentations about human and civil rights, diversity and discrimination for community groups and organizations
  • Respond to requests for information, referral and other forms of assistance from community members (from 9am to 4pm Monday through Friday as staff are available)
  • Provide administrative support to the members of the Human Rights Commission and Justice Center Oversight Committee
  • Identify and investigate serious complaints relating to the Onondga County Justice Center for consideration by the Jail Oversight Committee
  • Coordinate Onondaga County's Title VI, ADA & LEP Plan in collaboration with Administrators in each County Department
  • Utilize processes of conference, conciliation, persuasion and education to address or resolve
    situations of intergroup conflict and alleged discrimination
  • Produce pamphlets and factsheets to provide the public with information about human and civil rights, and about the Commission and its work


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