Honoree

ANGELA FERNANDEZ, ESQ.
The New York State Division of Human Rights Commissioner


Angela Fernandez is the Commissioner of the NYS Division of Human Rights. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director and Supervising Attorney of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights.

Ms. Fernandez is a graduate of the Columbia University School of Law and has more than 20 years of experience advocating for human and civil rights in the United States and internationally. Early in her career, she worked as an off-air reporter for ABC News, World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, Good Morning America, and Nightline. Her public interest law experience began in the Middle East, investigating labor law violations of workers, with the Centre for Human Rights Legal Aid in Cairo and continued with her providing pro bono legal representation to immigrants through the American Immigrant Lawyers Association.

Ms. Fernandez’s advocacy in education includes successfully founding and managing two academically rigorous elementary schools in the South Bronx and Washington D.C., and spearheading and implementing the first-of-its-kind Women’s Studies Program at Riker’s Island Correctional Facility for female detainees. Her work in government includes being a staffer for U.S. Senator Bill Bradley and District Chief of Staff for Congressman Jose Serrano.

Ms. Fernandez is unique in that she combines top-level governmental experience with years of working collaboratively with affected community members across New York State. This has given her a clear understanding of the current policy gaps within New York and the progressive solutions to fill them. In the past 10 years, she has helped to build broad city- and state-wide coalitions that have reversed policies potentially devastating to vulnerable New Yorkers. Ms. Fernandez co-led the effort to end New York State’s participation in the Secure Communities program, and co-developed the nation’s first universal court-appointed representation program for detained immigrants.

Ms. Fernandez served as the Chair of the National Dominican Day Parade, leading it through a successful turnaround and bringing structure, financial health, and open-book respectability to the institution. She also served on the board of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, the largest agency in the nation that oversees, investigates and adjudicates complaints of police brutality.

Ms. Fernandez lives with her family in Washington Heights.