DANR President Attends Installation Ceremony of Thomas E. Perez as US Assistant Attorney General

Thomas Perez and Nestor Montilla

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“How fortunate we are to have Tom, a Dominican American, as U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; he will fight bigotry, hate crimes and discrimination against Americans, and new Americans,” said DANR President Nestor Montilla.

Washington, DC (November 13, 2009). DANR President Nestor Montilla attended the Installation Ceremony of Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, took place on Friday, November 13, 2009 at 3:00 pm in Washington, DC.

“How fortunate we are to have Tom as U.S. Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights; he will fight bigotry, hate crimes and discrimination against Americans, and new Americans,” said DANR President Nestor Montilla. “He will attend the DANR 12th Annual Conference in Walt Disney World, December 4, 2009, and will be honored with the DANR National Guanin Public Service Award.”

Talking about his upbringing in the United States following the dictatorship of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Mr. Perez said: “My family settled in the mecca for Dominicans, also known as Washington Heights. There, my father became the conscience not only of the family, but of a people united by their disdain for a totalitarian regime.”

In his remarks, he explained the importance of civil rights in the United States: “Civil rights continues to be the unfinished business of America. Day in and day out, we see regreatable evidence of the need for the Civil Rights Division.

“Too many people of color finding themselves in discriminatory housing and lending. Too many people with disability still struggling to access basics services so many of us take for granted; too many students, students of color with limited English proficiency, students with disability still lacking access to the basic educational services that are the core components of participation in the democratic society.

“All too many new Americans who came to this country like my grandparents seeking a better live only to confront bigotry and hate all too frequently. We need a civil rights division to bring all of these people and so many more out of the shadows and into the sunshine even on a cloudy day like today, so that we can back up this country’s commitment of equal justice for all.”

Attending the installation ceremony were Honorable Thomas J. Perrelli, Associate Attorney General; Dorothy Williams, Equal Opportunity Specialist Disability Rights Section; Stephen H. Sachs, Former U.S. Attorney and Former Maryland Attorney General; Ralph Rouse, Regional Manager for Civil Rights Region VI, Health and Human Services; Melody Barnes, Director, Domestic Policy Council; Honorable David W. Ogden, Deputy Attorney General; Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr., U.S. Attorney General; Honorable Linda K. David, Associate Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia; and Honorable Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

Thomas E. Perez was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division and was sworn in on October 8, 2009. Mr. Perez previously served as the Secretary of Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (DLLR), where he was a principal architect of a sweeping package of state lending and foreclosure reforms to address the foreclosure crisis in Maryland.

Mr. Perez has spent his entire career in public service. From 2002 until 2006, he was a member of the Montgomery County Council. He was the first Latino ever elected to the Council, and served as Council President in 2005.

Earlier in his career, he spent 12 years in federal public service, most of them as a career attorney with the Civil Rights Division. As a prosecutor for the Division, he prosecuted some of the Department’s most high profile civil rights cases, including a hate crimes case in Texas involving a group of white supremacists who went on a deadly, racially motivated crime spree.

Mr. Perez later served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under Attorney General Janet Reno. Among other responsibilities, he chaired the interagency Worker Exploitation Task Force, which oversaw a variety of initiatives designed to protect vulnerable workers.

(Photo below: Hon. Linda K. Davis, Associate Judge, Superior Court of the District of Columbia and Thomas E. Perez at the Ceremonial Installation).

Thomas Perez taking the oath
Tom swearing inMr. Perez also served as Special Counsel to the late Senator Edward Kennedy, and was Senator Kennedy’s principal adviser on civil rights, criminal justice and constitutional issues.
For the final two years of the Clinton administration, Mr. Perez served as the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Mr. Perez was a law professor for six years at University of Maryland School of Law and a part-time professor at the George Washington School of Public Health.

He received a Bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 983, a Master’s of Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government in 1987 and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1987.

Mr. Perez lives in Maryland with his wife, Ann Marie Staudenmaier, an attorney with the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and their three children.

(Photo below: Hon. Eric H. Holder, Jr., US. Attorney General and DANR President Nestor Montilla).

Hon Eric H. Holder, Jr. and Nestor Montilla, Sr.