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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
September 13, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division on Civil Rights
- J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, Director

 

Lee Moore
609-292-4791
William Scheckel
973-648-4817

 

Civil Rights Director Elected to International Human Rights Leadership Post

TRENTON – Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced today that the Director of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, J. Frank Vespa-Papaleo, has been elected to the board of directors of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies.

A non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., the International Association of Human Rights Agencies is made up of agencies responsible for enforcing a variety of human and civil rights laws in their respective national, provincial, state, county, and municipal jurisdictions.

The International Association is dedicated to promoting civil and human rights around the world, including the United States and Canada. It also works closely with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United States Department of Justice, and the U.S. Congress. It’s website is located at www.sso.org/iaohra.

Attorney General Harvey noted that Director Vespa-Papaleo was elected on August 17th to serve a two-year term on the International Association’s Board of Directors -- as one of four board “members at large” – during the Association’s annual conference held in Florida.

“IAOHRA is an important forum for law enforcement agencies – agencies who are fighting similar fights in their respective jurisdictions -- to come together, compare notes, and inspire each other to carry on the fight,” said Harvey. “Having Director Vespa-Papaleo serve as a member of the board will ensure that New Jersey’s anti-discrimination statutes help inform and guide civil rights agencies around the globe.”

“New Jersey was one of the original founders of the International Association of Human Rights Agencies in 1949, and has been a member for decades. I am proud to follow in that tradition,” said Director Vespa-Papaleo. “I am excited to be able to serve the Association as a board member, and further raise the visibility of all of our efforts here in New Jersey.”

Vespa-Papaleo added that New Jersey has one of the most progressive, comprehensive civil rights statutes in the United States, “which means it is one of the most progressive laws in the world. I will be glad to pass on the lessons of our experiences here for the benefit of all IAOHRA members. One reason I believe our law is so progressive is because enforcement of our anti-discrimination law falls within the Division on Civil Rights, part of the Office of Attorney General. Ours is one of very few that is part of a State Attorney General’s Office.”

Jim Stowe, President of IAOHRA and Director of the Columbus Community Relations Commission in Ohio, said the Association “is excited to have Director Vespa-Papaleo join the Board of Directors.”

”I know he is passionate about issues pertaining to new immigrants, children who are victims of bias-based bullying and harassment, and persons with disabilities,” said Stowe. “We welcome Frank’s dedication on civil and human rights issues.”

The newly-elected IAOHRA Board is comprised of President James Stowe (Executive Director of the Columbus, Ohio Community Relations Commission), 1st Vice President Vanessa Ruiz Boiling (Director of the Fort Worth Community Relations Department), 2nd Vice President Rocco Claps (Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights), Secretary Paula Haley (Executive Director of the Alaska Human Rights Commission), Treasurer Homer Floyd (Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission), Immediate Past President Beverly Watts (Director of the National Fair Housing Training Academy), Members-At-Large Brian Wright (Director of the Schenectady County Commission on Human Rights), Gail Williams (Administrator of the Hillsborough County Office of Equal Opportunity), and Gerald Foday (Director of the Forth Wayne, Indiana Human Relations Commission), and Frank Vespa-Papaleo (Director of the NJ Division on Civil Rights), and Regional Representatives Michael Cash (Executive Director of the Fairfax County Human Rights Commission), Germaine Covington (Director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights), Jennifer Vidis (Director of the Cook County Human Relations Commission), and Keith Norton (Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission).

The Division on Civil Rights is responsible for enforcing the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the New Jersey Family Leave Act. Specifically, the Division investigates allegations of discrimination in employment, housing, places of public accommodation and credit. Its offices are located in Atlantic City, Camden, Jersey City, Newark, Paterson, and Trenton. Further information about the Division is available on its Web site www.NJCivilrights.org .


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