“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, 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. “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 concience 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 regrettable 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.
He 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.
Thomas E. Perez, US Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Attends DANR Conference in Walt Disney
DANR Honors Him with the National Guanin Public Service Award
- Tom Perez’ parents moved from the Dominican Republic to the US after fleeing Trujillo dictatorship -
Washington, DC –Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the U.S. Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, attended the DANR 12th Annual National Conference in Walt Disney World on December 4, 6, 2009 at the Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World, Fl.
“We are happy to welcome Thomas E. Perez to the DANR Conference in Walt Disney,” said DANR National President Nestor Montilla. ”Nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the US Senate, he is the first Dominican American to serve as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the US Department of Justice. We are proud of his outstanding accomplishments and will honor him with “The DANR National Guanin Award” to recognize his contributions and extraordinary commitment to excellence in public service.” “With his presence and participation at our 2009 conference, and the presence of hundreds of Dominicans and Hispanics from across the United States, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, we, Dominicans, will set the direction of our community and the DANR.”
One more time, the Dominican American National Roundtable, the only national non for profit, non partisan 501 (C) (3) corporation advocating on behalf of over 2 million Dominicans in the US, would like to commend President Barack Obama for having the vision and certainty to nominate Perez to lead DOJ’s civil rights division.
The story of his family and his life is a source of inspiration for all of us and affirms everything that is great about Dominicans.
Tom Perez’ father, a doctor, fled the Dominican Republic’s Rafael Trujillo dictatorship and was drafted into the U.S. Army even though he wasn’t a U.S. citizen. Meanwhile, Tom’s mother was also fleeing Trujillo because her dad, the Dominican Ambassador to the United States, criticized the dictator. The two exiles met and married, settling in Buffalo, N.Y., where Dr. Perez worked in a veteran’s hospital and where Tom, one of five children, was born. Then, when Tom was only 12, a fatal heart attack struck his dad, leaving young Tom with a deep appreciation for the brevity of life and the importance of time.
Ever since he’s lived a break-neck career while keeping in shape (three Boston marathons), taking his anti-cholesterol meds and coaching his kid’s basketball and baseball teams. Tom’s brains and hustle won him scholarships to Brown University (he worked in the dining hall) and Harvard Law School where he graduated cum laude.
Next he won a degree at Harvard’s Kennedy School, clerked for a federal judge and, then, went to work for the U.S. Department of Justice as a civil rights prosecutor. For seven years, he traveled the country busting wrongdoers such as the South Bay Nazi Youth for randomly shooting blacks in Lubbock, Texas; corrupt Oakland, Calif., cops who were stealing drugs and cash from dealers; and a federal Border Patrol agent who murdered an illegal immigrant.
From 1988 to 1995, he worked on U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy’s staff and was then appointed director of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Meanwhile, back in Montgomery County, he helped establish CASA, the Latino advocacy organization, and got involved in local politics.
He served in the Clinton administration as Director of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and was a strong advocate for cultural competence in all HHS programs, and he helped to secure an Executive Order that significantly improved access to services for people with limited English proficiency.
As a member, and later President of the Montgomery County Board of Supervisors from 2002 to 2006, he led efforts to make health care more accessible to the county’s residents, including the uninsured, and securing discounted prescription benefits.
Established in 1997, the Dominican American National Roundtable is a non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for the empowerment of Dominicans in the United States. The DANR National Conference is the only conference in the United States that brings together Dominicans from around the country under one roof for the purpose of community empowerment.