Caroline Downey is an experienced attorney and long-term employee of the New York State Division of Human Rights.
As of January 2007, Ms. Downey became General Counsel for the Division of Human Rights. As General Counsel, she advises the Commissioner on all legal matters affecting the Division. She supervises the Legal Bureau, including the Legislation and Legal Opinions Unit, the Litigation and Appeals Unit, and the Legal Records Management Unit. She also serves as the Division’s Ethics Officer.
Ms. Downey joined the Division as a Legal Bureau Senior Attorney in 1981, after four years as Litigation Associate with the New York City law firm of Hawkins, Delafield and Wood. She first served in the Appeals and Litigation Unit at the Division, where she litigated many discrimination cases in the Appellate Divisions and the Court of Appeals, including Binghamton Federal Credit Union v. SDHR, which established that the denial of credit disability insurance to pregnant women constituted sex discrimination in the offering of credit under the Human Rights Law, and SDHR v. Onondaga Sheriff’s Department, where the Court of Appeals, in a race and sex discrimination case, recognized that an employer’s shifting explanations for its employment actions may give rise to an inference that later explanations are pretextual. In 1992, Ms. Downey was promoted to the position of Director of Legislation and Legal Opinions for the Division, where her responsibilities included overseeing the Division’s legislative and regulatory programs. Ms. Downey was promoted to Supervising Attorney for the Division in June, 2005, the position she held until her promotion to General Counsel.
Ms. Downey lectures frequently in all areas involving interpretation of the Human Rights Law.
Ms. Downey is a graduate of Lake Erie College for Women and the Antioch School of Law.
Sally Santangelo is the Executive Director of CNY Fair Housing, a non-profit fair housing organization based in Syracuse and serving 17 counties of Central and Northern New York. Sally started with the organization as a Fair Housing Investigator and later became the Director of Enforcement. She also serves as the Chair of the Policy Committee for the Housing and Homeless Coalition of CNY and on the board of directors of the National Fair Housing Alliance and Home HeadQuarters.
Susan Griffith works as a Managing Attorney for Legal Services for Central New York. LSCNY helps people and communities in Central New York change law, policy, and systems to promote equity and create pathways out of poverty. She received her Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University in 1983, and received her Bar Admission in the State of New York. Griffith has been honored with numerous awards such as the Pro Bono Service Award for Onondaga County and the Sister Mary Vera Award,. She is currently a member of the Onondaga County Bar Association.
Our Moderator is Bishop Dr. H. Bernard Alex (Bernard). He is the Lead Servant of the Victory Temple Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church. Bernard is committed to removing barriers of social and individual inequity through education, developing and implementation of culturally competent operational plans, creating safe spaces for authentic interchange and decompression of learned and cultural behaviors. An Educator, Community Organizer, Trained Group Facilitator and DEIA Certified Corporate Trainer. He is President of the Syracuse Chapter, National Action Network. He attended Tuskegee Institute, majoring in English Education/ Language Arts, Post Baccalaureate Curriculum Development and Program Design at Syracuse University with an emphasis in Urban Educational Barriers. 2020-21 Fellow, Fellowship of Emerging Leaders in Ministry, Syracuse University. He is an“On Call Clergy with the Department of Spiritual Care of SUNY Upstate Medical University for 18 years, one of the longest serving On Call Clergy/Chaplins within SUNY Upstate System of Care.A former Hospice of CNY Board Member, he has been trained in “End of Life Care Competency Systems”with a focus in Providing Support in the African American Faith Tradition” Serving on many organizational Board of Directors throughout the CNY area and beyond, his dedication and insight is often sought on current issues that impact the greater CNY area. A Syracuse native, Bishop Alex is dedicated to serve the people as a “Social Transformer”affirming “We Are Better Together!”