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Suffolk County Human Rights Commission

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RABBI DR. STEVEN A. MOSS, CHAIRPERSON, was appointed to the Human Rights Commission in 1992. Rabbi Moss has served at the B'nai Israel Reform Temple in Oakdale as its spiritual leader since 1972. He was initially appointed Chairperson of the County’s Anti-Bias Task Force by former County Executive Patrick Halpin, and has been appointed Chair (and later Co-Chair) of the Task Force for each of the subsequent years by County Executives Robert Gaffney, Steve Levy and Steve Bellone. He serves as Chief of Chaplains for the Suffolk County Police Department, the Chiefs of Police Association, the Police Association, and serves as chaplain to many local hospitals and senior facilities. He received his undergraduate degree from New York University, and his graduate degrees and ordination from the Hebrew Union College in New York. He was the recipient of the District Attorney’s Distinguished Citizen Award, and Chaplain of the Year 1987 and Rabbi of the Year 2007 awards, given by the New York Board of Rabbis. In 2009, he received the Lehman-LaGuardia Award for Civic Achievement. In 2003, he was appointed to the Board of the Suffolk Center on the Holocaust, Diversity, and Human Understanding. He is the longest sitting member of the Islip Town Board of Ethics. He is Chair of the Islip Town Anti-Bias Task Force and Chair of the Suffolk Center for the Holocaust, Diversity and Human Understanding.

LYNDA PERDOMO-AYALA, LMSW, VICE CHAIR, was appointed to the Commission in 2002 and was elected Vice Chair in 2003. She is a graduate of Adelphi University, the School of Social Welfare at Stony Brook University, and holds a certification in conflict resolution from Cornell University. Ms. Perdomo-Ayala is the Administrator to the Department of Pharmacological Sciences at Stony Brook University’s Medical Center. At Stony Brook, she also serves as advisor to the Latin American Student Organization, is a member and Chair of the advisory board of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Center, is a member of the Multicultural Woman’s Alliance and serves as a member of the University’s President and Provost Diversity Council. She has worked extensively in the community as a member of the National Association of Puerto Rican and Hispanic Social Workers, the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc., and the Suffolk County Executive’s Hispanic Advisory Board, and she is a board member, former President, of the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk, Inc. Ms. Perdomo-Ayala has received numerous awards and honors, including the “Woman of Distinction” Award from La Union de Mujeres Americanas in Ponce, Puerto Rico, and a Certificate of Appreciation from the Bethel AME Church of Setauket for her outstanding service and commitment to the community. In 2011, she was honored with a Special Recognition Award by Adelante of Suffolk County, Inc., for their 45th Puerto Rican/Hispanic Day Parade. She received recognition from Stony Brook University for her 29 years of service to the institution, and in October, 2103 she was honored by the SUNY Chancellor with the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service in the State University system. She was a recipient of the New York State Social Worker of the Month Award, was named Local Hero by Bank of America, Distinguished Social Worker by the National Association of Social Workers, and the Latino Social Work Task Force. In May 2013 she was inducted into the Class of 2013 – Top Advocates for Latino Empowerment on Long Island.  In addition, she represents the Human Rights Commission on the Suffolk County Women’s Advisory Commission serving the women of Suffolk County. She is an educator, mentor, and a committed activist for all underserved communities, and as Vice Chair of the Commission, she heads its Administrative Committees which oversees the heads of the following committees: Justice, Awards Dinner, Education, Employment, Health, Housing, Immigration and Junior Human Rights.

MICHELLE BONNIE CANNON was appointed to the Commission in September, 2012. A graduate of Howard University, Ms. Cannon is the Executive Director of the Bridgehampton Child Care & Recreational Center. She has served as Director since 2007. She also served a six-year term as Trustee on the Southampton Village Board. She was the first African-American elected as Trustee in the Village of Southampton. Ms. Cannon is active in the community and has served on several community and civic boards. She currently serves as chairperson on the Town of Southampton Housing Authority Board. She also is a member The League of Women Voters,  NAACP (Eastern Long Island Branch), and Jack & Jill of America (Suffolk County Branch).

RACHEL LEE DAVIS, appointed to the Commission in 1998, served as Vice Chair for over two years. She earned a B.S. Degree from Alcorn State University, Mississippi, an M.A. Degree, Secondary Education, from New York University; and holds NY State Certification in Health Education, Science, and Social Studies. Mrs. Davis has a record of service with the American Cancer Society, the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation, the Heart and Diabetes Associations, and the Uganda Children’s  “Tour of Light” which raises money for AIDS awareness. She is the Founding Vice Chair of The Witness Project L.I., Breast Cancer in African American Women, L.I. Cancer Care, and also a Trustee of SUNY’s Old Westbury College Foundation, Inc., founder/first President of Eastern Shore, The Links, Inc.; co-founder/first President, Sigma Psi Omega, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; past board Chair of Benincasa Family Services, Inc., Amityville, N.Y.; a member of the NAACP; and founding officer of the Coalition of 100 Black Women Suffolk County. She has received numerous awards for leadership and humanitarian services, including the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Meritorious Service Award, First Baptist Church of Riverhead; “Paving the Way To Success”, A Leader Making A Difference, American Diabetes Association; Partners in Preaching Leadership, Sisters of St. Dominic, Amityville, N.Y.; Outstanding Woman in the Town of Babylon; Frederick Douglas Memorial Award, Islip Chapter L.I. Council of African American Republicans; the 2007 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award, and the National Outstanding Secondary Educators of America Award. She was elected 2007 trustee of Stillman College, Tuscaloosa, Alabama; received the 2009 Suffolk County Republican Women’s Political Volunteer Award; and the 2010 New York State Senate’s Woman of Distinction Award. Mrs. Davis is an active member of St. Mary’s Church in Amityville, and is a member of the Commission’s Housing, Education, and Health Committees.

MICHELE T. DEL MONTE was reappointed to the Commission in April 2002, having previously served from 1993 to 1997. Ms. Del Monte’s background, training and experience are in public policy, health sciences, education and human services – including advocacy on aging, disability, health, housing and poverty issues. She has served on the Board of the Middle Country Library Foundation, Renewal Resources Board, and the Long Island Task Force on Literacy. In 2006, she helped the Council establish a Network of Women with Disabilities to increase access to health care through print material, health literacy, and physical accessibility to health providers’ offices. Ms. Del Monte is an active member of the Commission’s Awards, Education, Health, Housing, Immigration and Junior Human Rights Committees, and chairs the Employment Committee.  Ms. Del Monte is a past member of the Insurance Committee of the Suffolk County Minority Health Action Coalition;  the Diversity Committee of the Association of Fund Raising Professionals of LI; and, the Suffolk County Women’s Advisory Council. Ms. Del Monte is a member of the Community Leaders Advisory Committee of the Stony Brook University Medical Center, and the President’s Multi-Cultural Advisory Council at SUNY Stony Brook. In September 2010, Ms. Del Monte became a Literacy Volunteer and recently became a member of the Steering Committee of the Community Family Literacy Project of the Mastic, Moriches and Shirley Community Library.

MARK J. EPSTEIN, ESQ. was appointed to the Commission in 2008. Mr. Epstein is a partner in the law firm of Pazer, Epstein & Jaffe, and P.C. He earned a B.S. degree from The American University and his J.D. from New York Law School. He is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia. His memberships include the Suffolk County Bar Association, Nassau County Bar Association, New York County Lawyers Association, American Association for Justice, Huntington Lawyers Club, Jewish Lawyers of Nassau County and he sits on the Board of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. He is Chair of the Long Island Rail Road Commuters Council the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA and Chair of the Suffolk County Jewish Advisory Board. Mr. Epstein is also a member of the Long Island Association and the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce. He is a strong advocate of civil and human rights and has been awarded the B’nai B’rith Humanitarian Award. Mr. Epstein serves on the Commission’s Administration of Justice Committee.

AUGUSTUS G. MANTIA, M.D., appointed in 1998 to the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission is an Associate Professor of Medicine, Family Practice, and Psychiatry at Stony Brook University. Dr. Mantia had his own practice in Smithtown which served the community for over 30 years. He is a strong advocate of equality within the healthcare system. In 2005, Dr. Mantia, in conjunction with Stony Brook University and the First Baptism Church in Riverhead, received a grant from the W.K. Kellogg foundation for Project Care, a program to develop computer home monitoring for chronic medical conditions. Dr. Mantia was also appointment to the N.Y. State Department of Health’s Medicaid Advisory Committee by the N.Y. State Senate and Governor George Pataki. Dr. Mantia volunteers his time to serve his community as the Hauppauge Volunteer Fire Department’s Surgeon, who oversees all medical response and protocols for the Emergency Medical Response Teams and defibrillator programs. In July 2008, Dr. Mantia was appointment as a Deputy Fire Coordinator-Medical Doctor for the County of Suffolk. Also in 2008 he was selected for appointment to the position of Critical Incident Police Surgeon for the Suffolk County Police Department. His appointment followed successful completion of critical training in FEMA Incident Management, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Police Department field operations and protocols, and certification as a Field Physician by the Suffolk County Department of Health Division of EMS. Dr. Mantia has been acknowledged as a “hometown Humanitarian” by the Suffolk County Legislature and was named the 2012 Physician of Excellence by the Suffolk Regional Emergency Medical Services Council. Dr. Mantia serves as a Chair of the Health Committee as well as chair of the Commission’s Housing Committee. 

GARY R. MAR, PH.D., appointed to the Commission in 2005, is a Professor of Philosophy at Stony Brook University, where he teaches logic, philosophy of mathematics, analytic philosophy, philosophy of religion, linguistics, and Asian American studies.  Founder and director of the Asian American Center, he was a catalyst for the Charles B. Wang Asian American Center at SBU, which was established, at that time, with the largest private donation in the history of the public education system in NY State. Dr. Mar has been an advocate for Asian American studies at Stony Brook University and serves on a number of community organizations, including being a member of the advisory board of the Council for Prejudice Reduction and a Vice Chair of the Community Advisory Board for Public Television Stations WNET13/WLIW21/NJTV.  Dr. Mar was also the founding president of the Asian American Faculty Staff Association and chaired the American Philosophical Association (APA) Committee on the status of Asian and Asian American Philosophers and Philosophies. He has been a recipient of the Outstanding Professor Award from the Alumni Association at Stony Brook, the President’s and Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching from SUNY, and the Pew Foundation Scholar’s Fellowship. In 2005, he was honored with a Civil Advocacy Achievement Award from the Organization of Chinese Americans, Long Island.  He has administered grants to conduct workshops on hate crimes from the Allstate Foundation and the Organization of Chinese Americans, an Asian American civil rights advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. Dr. Mar chairs the Commission’s Education Committee and is also a member of the Immigration Committee.

CAROLYN G. PEABODY, PH. D., L.C.S.W., A.C.S.W., is Assistant Dean for East End Initiatives and Clinical Associate Professor at the School of Social Welfare, Stony Brook University. Dr. Peabody earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Fordham University in 1978, her Master of Social Work Degree from Stony Brook University in 1986 and her Doctorate in Sociology from Stony Brook University in 1998. She was appointed to the Commission in 1997 and is the Commission’s liaison to the Southold Town Anti-Bias Task Force. Throughout her career, Dr. Peabody has worked to fight inequality and to support the empowerment of disenfranchised, stigmatized and oppressed individuals and communities. As a graduate student, she did her internship with the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission and the Sayville Project, an advocacy/empowerment community based program that assists people who have been involved in the public mental health system. Dr. Peabody was awarded a National Institute of Mental Health Traineeship and Clinical Training Fellowship which supported her work training and developing an advocacy/empowerment practice curriculum for graduate social work students working in the public mental health system. Dr. Peabody joined the faculty of Stony Brook University’s School of Social Welfare in 1989. Since that time, Dr. Peabody has chaired and served on many committees and working groups charged with working for human and civil rights. For example, she served as the advisor to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Social Worker Caucus, she co-chaired the Suffolk County and NYS NASW Lesbian & Gay Issues Committee, cochaired the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Faculty Staff Network and served on the Steering Committee for the President Clinton’s Initiative on Race at Stony Brook. She served on the University President’s Advisory Council on Diversity. Dr. Peabody also has served in various leadership capacities with community-based anti-bias organizations. She has served as chair and Vice-Chair the Southold Town Anti-Bias Task Force and as Co-Chair of the Administration of Justice Committee of the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission. In addition, Dr. Peabody has maintained a psychotherapy practice for the last 15 years, working predominantly with women and lesbians. She lives with Diane, her partner and recent spouse of 26 years in Orient Point, NY. She has 2 stepsons, David, a social work administrator with a large agency serving the greater New York area and Eric, a paralegal, part-time film maker and film festival organizer.

BEENA KOTHARI, Having lived on Long Island for over twenty three plus years, her association, interactions, and contributions with members of the Indian and American communities has been valuable and memorable. Her many accomplishments with various nonprofit organizations have occurred over a long period including various leadership capacities as Iali President 2016, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Executive Member, and Chair of several ad-hoc committees, India day Parade Chair 2015 and 2016.

She takes pride in serving in leadership positions with many social, non-profit organizations such as Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA) (Board of Director, Treasurer), Jain Center of America (JCA), Jain Samaj of Long Island (JSLI) (Board of Director), Gayatri Pariwar of Long Island (GPLI) (volunteered teaching Hindi and vedic math), Long Island Multi Faith Forum (LIMFF), India Day Parade (IDP), India Association of Long Island (IALI) (only broad-based community organization in Long Island operating since 1976), Suffolk County Indian Committee and hascontributed tremendously to their success and fundraising, including many international conventions.

During her professional career with Real Estate, Sony, Time Warner, JP Morgan Chase, and IBM as Global IT Team Manager, she has won many service “Gold Stars” taking a lead role in promoting and practicing the great Indian values of ‘Unity and Harmony among Diversity with Respect’ which is important and close to her heart and hopefully to all. She firmly believes that she can extend those values throughout the community and thereby strengthen it by bringing us all closer together for the longer-term.

Her goal is to focus on ‘Young and Women’s Empowerment with Leadership’ which she believes is essential for the betterment of the Indian-American community.

Her involvement includes:

  • Chair of India Day Parade- 2015 and 2016
  • President, Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Executive Member, and Chair of several ad-hoc committees since 1998
  • Chair of Cultural and Newsletter Committees
  • Volunteered in Thanksgiving, Diwali (festival of lights), Christmas and Food Drives for the homeless
  • Chair of India fest (10,000 people attended and 52 vendors participated)
  • Volunteered with Senior Citizen Committee
  • Volunteered with Women Forum

HAFIZ UR REHMAN, MD FAAP was appointed to the Commission by County Executive Steve Bellone in 2012. Dr. Rehman is a Pediatrician in Bay Shore and a senior Attending in the Dept. of Pediatrics at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center and Southside Hospital. He is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine at Hofstra University and is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the New York Institute of Technology NYCOM School of Medicine. Dr. Rehman is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He is a Past President of the Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) and the past Chairman of IMANA's Board of Regents. He has also served as the Chairman of IMANA RELIEF and continues to be a Member of that Committee. Dr. Rehman is a past President of Masjid Darul Quran - The Muslim Center of Long Island (the largest Mosque on Long Island) and presently, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Mosque. He has been a past President of the Islamic Association of Long Island - the Selden Mosque. Dr. Rehman is a Member of the Suffolk County Inter-faith Anti-Bias Task Force and the Town of Islip Anti-Bias Task Force. He is a member of the Bay Shore Interfaith Council, and an Honorary Board Member of the Suffolk County Coalition against Domestic Violence. Dr. Rehman was a recipient of the Suffolk County Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Public Service Award. He also has received Suffolk County Community College's Salute to Excellence Community Service Award. In 2012, he was awarded the Ghandi Award by the Shanti Fund. Dr. Rehman has also received the Bharat Guruv "Pride of India" Award. Dr. Rehman was also appointed to the American Muslim Advisory Board to the County Executive as well as the Public Advisory Board to the Suffolk County Commissioner of Police. Dr. Rehman serves as a Board Member of FOF Relief and Education with relief activities in Asia and Africa. He is also on the Board of the Muslim Foundation of America. Dr. Rehman believes that "The enjoyment of Human Rights is not exclusively for any select people or race BUT for all the Human beings who inhabit the planet. I see a basic goodness in each and every person that encourages me to work forthem."

LUIS E. RODRIGUEZ, ESQ., is a partner at the law offices of Goldstein & Rodriguez, LLP since 2007. He earned a B.S. in Accounting from S.U.N.Y. College at Old Westbury in the year 2000. He received his Juris Doctor from Touro Law in 2005. He is a Member of the Nassau Lawyers Association, Nassau County Bar Association, New York State Bar Association and the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association.

LUIS VALENZUELA, PH.D. was appointed to the Commission in 2012. He has over 25 years of experience as an advocate in non-profit organizations. He is currently employed by the Healthcare Education Project of the Greater New York Hospital Association & 1199 SEIU. In his capacity as a Healthcare Advocate, Luis works to improve healthcare in New York State through education, grassroots organizing and coalition-building. As a Clinical Associate Professor at the School of Social Welfare SUNY Stony Brook, Dr. Valenzuela helps to prepare new social work professionals. In his role as the Executive Director of the Long Island Immigrant Alliance (LIIA), Dr. Valenzuela has worked with an alliance of some 50 charitable, religious, labor, civil rights and immigrant organizations in Nassau and Suffolk Counties that are concerned with ensuring that Long Island provides a welcoming environment for immigrants and invites their involvement in the cultural, socio-economic and political life of their community.  He presently serves on the Suffolk County Police Commissioner's Advisory Board and on the Suffolk County Welfare to Work Commission. Dr. Valenzuela has served as Vice Chair of the New York Immigration Coalition and past President of the National Association of Puerto Rican Hispanic Social Workers (NAPRHSW). He is active in many community organizations including: The Long Island Council of Churches,  NASW (National Association of Social Workers), Jobs With Justice LI, The Latino Jewish Coalition, Long Island WINS, SUNY Stony Brook President’s Multicultural Advisory Board, The Health & Welfare Council, Community Advocates, Molloy College President's Multicultural Advisory, The Long Island Organizing Network (LION), College of Advisors for Erase Racism, and the Nassau Suffolk Hispanic Legislative Task Force. Over the years, Dr. Valenzuela has received recognition from many prestigious organizations, as well as local and state government and congressional recognition for his service to the community. Dr. Valenzuela completed his social work studies at SUNY Stony Brook School of Social Welfare and at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Services. Dr. Valenzuela is also a graduate of the Energeia Partnership Regional Stewards Leadership Program, and a CORO Leadership Fellow. Dr. Valenzuela enjoys spending time with his wife Deborah, his adult children and grandchildren.

DIONNE WALKER-BELGRAVE, MBA, CCDP/AP, was appointed as a member of the Commission in April 2011 and is a diversity and compliance consultant and President of DWB Associates. Dionne was one of the first professionals to receive her Diversity Certification CCDP/AP, from Cornell and also holds a Management Development Certificate from Harvard University. Ms. Walker-Belgrade received an M.B.A. in Finance from Adelphi University, and a B.S. in Business from SUNY New Paltz. Before founding her own consulting business, she held positions in the Long Island area as Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Affirmative Action/Equity and Diversity, Director of Financial Aid and Financial Auditor and Budget Analyst. She conducts training seminars and lectures locally and abroad on Global Diversity, Affirmative Action, Financial Aid and College Admissions and Scholarships. Ms. Walker-Belgrave was the recipient of the Long Island Urban League’s Trail Blazer Award, and has been recognized by many area organizations for her dedication and leadership. She has taken leadership roles in various mentoring programs, community-based organizations and educational initiatives. Throughout the years, she has been an active participant and supporter of many civic, cultural and educational organizations including, but not limited to, the American Association for Affirmative Action, New York State Financial Aid Administrators Association, Long Island Next Generation Housing Committee, Erase Racism, Jack and Jill of America, Inc., the Long Island Urban League and in 2011 she was appointed to the County Executive’s African-American Advisory Board. She also chaired New York State’s Regional Affirmative Action Officers. Ms. Walker-Belgrave is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and she is a member and former Trustee of Living Hope Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, where she also served as Christian Education leader and is currently the External Affairs Liaison.

DR. YU-WAN WANG has more than twenty-five years of work experience that literally spans the globe. A product of China’s Cultural Revolution, she learned early about the importance of education and the need to take risks to satisfy intellectual desire. Dr. Wang holds a B.S. in Business Administration, a Masters of Library and Information Science, and an Ed.D. Dr. Wang, who was born in Northern China, gained corporate and academic experience in the United States and in Taiwan. Her corporate experience includes serving as an information coordinator for McKinsey & Co. There, she prioritized client services information requests from around the world. Later she went on to serve as a Consultant for the Taipei City government where she defined the role and direction of the International Commission, formulated strategic plans and directed international programs. After serving as the Director of a library in Pennsylvania, Dr. Wang became an Instructor at Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan. From 2002-2009 she was Director of International Student & Scholar Services at Dowling College. Currently, Dr. Wang is Associate Dean for International Admissions at Stony Brook University. Dr. Wang’s memberships and professional activities include a Fulbright Life Membership, Association of International Educators (NAFSA), Rotary International and Women’s International Network. She is also the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, and a Woman of the Year award from the Islip Town Council.