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Onondaga County/Syracuse Commission on Human Rights

Office of Diversity and Inclusion

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

Free call for individuals housed at Jail or Jamesville (315) 435-3567

About Us

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. 


These current Commissioners of Human Rights are as follows:

  • Rabbi Daniel J. Fellman
  • Barbara Johnson
  • Liban Mohamed
  • Al-amin Muhammad
  • John C. Rushing III
  • Leonardo L. Sanchez, L.P.N.
  • Rev. Roosevelt Baums
  • Mbonimpa Banabas
  • Christopher Gilkes
  • Mia Wade
  • Nodesia Hernandez
  • Lanessa Chaplin, Esq.














The following people served as a Commissioner of Human Rights between 2016 and 2020:

  • 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
  • Reverend Douglas P. Mackey
  • Chol Majok
  • Suzette M. Melendez, Esq.
  • Migdalia Morales
  • Montanette C. Murphy
  • Francis Parks
  • Gabriel Ramos
  • Shelley Skellington
  • 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.          (click here to 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.


Monthly meetings of the full Commission are now held on either the 3rd or 4th Wednesday of each month.  Meeting dates and locations are posted on this website.  The business portions of these meetings are open to the public.  Members of the public and the media can contact the Commisison office if they wish to receive email notice of upcoming meetings.    


Working Committees of the Human Rights Commission


In 2019, the Human Rights Commissioners pursued their goals through 3 Working Committees.

The Commission is in the process of re-formulating its committee structure to facilitate work on its goals for 2020.


There is also an Executive Committee which works to guide the decision making of the Commissiion, especially between scheduled meetings.  This Committee is composed of the current Chairperson & Co-Chairperson, the previous Chair person the Chairpersons of the 3 Working Committees below.


The members of the 2019 Working Committees were as follows. 

The names of committee chairpersons are underlined.








Sanjay Chhablani - Chair

Bruce Carter

Steve Butler

Francis Parks

Robert Gardino

Shiu Kai Chin

Jeffrey Tamburo



David Pasinski - Chair

Rosalie Young

David Pasinski

Suzette Melendez

Shelly Skellington

Khadijo Abdulkadiir



2019 Chair TBA

Crystal Doody

Leo Sanchez

John Rushing

Mary Alice Smothers



Current Staff

Office of Diversity and Inclusion - Montanette Murphy

Picture of Montanette Murphy



Staff 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 6pm 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


- Investigate serious allegations of discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodations

- 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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