Who We Are

The Racial Justice Commission (RJC), formed in 2021, is a charter revision commission tasked with examining structural racism within NYC. The RJC has examined the City’s Charter to identify structural barriers facing Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern and all People of Color (BIPOC*) in NYC and, based on community input, has put forward Ballot Questions aimed at eliminating barriers and promoting racial equity. New Yorkers will vote on these proposed changes to the city’s charter in November 2022.

*We will name Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all People of Color whenever possible. We understand that each group is diverse and has varied historical and current experiences with racial inequality. 

Read our Report

Our final report contains a summary of the Commission’s work, process, and intentions behind each ballot question.

The Commissioners

Jennifer Jones Austin, Chair 

CEO and Executive Director, FPWA

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Jennifer Jones Austin, Esq. has devoted her career to fighting for equal opportunity for all, with a keen focus on dismantling systemic barriers for persons of color, women, and children.

A fourth-generation leader of faith and social justice, she is the CEO and Executive Director of FPWA, an anti-poverty policy and advocacy nonprofit with more than 200 member organizations and faith-based partners; its work is centered on economic opportunity and upward mobility.

Ms. Jones Austin served as Senior Vice President of the United Way of New York City; the City of New York’s first Family Services Coordinator; Deputy Commissioner for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services; NYS Office of Attorney General Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief; and Vice President for LearnNow/Edison Schools, Inc.

Throughout her career, she has led and secured monumental changes in social policy to strengthen and empower the disenfranchised and marginalized. 

Jones Austin is a radio host, an author and a public speaker, and sits on the board of several organizations including the National Action Network, for which she is Vice Chair; the Fordham University Feerick Center for Social Justice; and the Harvard Center for Law, Brain and Behavior. 

Jennifer Jones Austin was born and raised, and continues to reside in Brooklyn, New York.

Henry Garrido, Vice Chair, Executive Director, District Council 37 and American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees
Henry Garrido, Vice-Chair

Executive Director, District Council 37 and American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees

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Henry A. Garrido is the executive director of District Council 37, NYC’s largest municipal employees’ union with 150,000 members and nearly 50,000 retirees. He was elected to a second three-year term in January 2019.

He is an international vice president of AFSCME, a board member on the city’s Workforce Investment Board, and serves as a Trustee on the board of the New York City Employees Retirement System (NYCERS). He also serves as a Co-Chair of the Municipal Labor Committee which negotiates healthcare related issues for all city workers and their families and Vice Chair of the NYC Racial Justice Commission.

A native of the Dominican Republic, he is the first Latino to head DC 37 since it was formed in 1944. 

K. Bain, Founder and Executive Director, Community Capacity Development
K. Bain

Founder and Executive Director, Community Capacity Development

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K. Bain, a native of Brooklyn, New York, is an American serial and social entrepreneur. He is the Founder and current Executive Director of Community Capacity Development (CCD), former New York City Director of Legislation and Budgetary Affairs for District 45 of the City Council and in April 2021, he was sworn in as a Commissioner to New York City’s Mayoral Racial Justice Committee.

His operational duties included creating proposals for the allocation of New York City’s 90-billion-dollar annual budget, as well as maintaining direct oversight of the multi-million-dollar financial account. Bain has also taken legislative and municipal initiative, drafting groundbreaking statutes and policies that have changed community policing citywide. Most significantly, he drafted the Community Safety Act which successfully increased police accountability, created better community police relations and established safer streets in New York City. He additionally co-drafted the intro 1079 and intro 1080 which formulated the role of Inspector General position in the New York Police Department, and later outlined the Stop, Question and Frisk bill, which legally recognizes and directs accountability for police bias.

Ana M. Bermudez, Commissioner, NYC Department of Probation
Ana M. Bermúdez

Commissioner, NYC Department of Probation

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Ana M. Bermúdez is the NYC Department of Probation’s (DOP’s) first openly gay person, first Latina and second woman to be appointed Commissioner. A graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School, Commissioner Bermúdez began her professional career representing children in family court cases at the Legal Aid Society.

For over twenty years, she has been a tireless advocate for children and teenagers involved in the justice system through the development and implementation of strengths-based interventions, the application of restorative and youth development practices and the designing of programs that ensure successful re-integration for adjudicated juveniles. During her tenure as DOP’s Deputy Commissioner of Juvenile Operations from 2010 through 2014, she successfully led city-wide initiatives that focused on improving outcomes for court-involved youth through interdisciplinary collaborations.

With her appointment to Commissioner in March 2014, she continues to lead the Department in its mission to enhance public safety through appropriate and individualized and community-based interventions in the lives of people on probation to enable them to permanently exit the justice system.

Prior to joining the DOP in 2010, she was the Director of Juvenile Justice Programs at the Children’s Aid Society. She has also worked at CASES (The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services) holding progressively responsible positions: Director of Training and Technical Assistance; Co-Director of Community Prep High School: a transitional school for court-involved students; and Deputy Director for Court Services and Case Management at CASES’ Court Employment Project, an alternative to incarceration program for adolescent felony offenders.

Reverend Frederick Davie, Senior Strategic Advisor, Union Theological Seminary and Chair, Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB)
Rev. Frederick Davie

Senior Strategic Advisor, Union Theological Seminary and Chair, Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB)

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Rev. Frederick Davie is the Senior Strategic Advisor to the President of Union Theological Seminary, where he was Executive Vice President for 10 years. He is also Senior Advisor for Racial Equity at IFYC. Rev. Davie’s public sector experience is extensive.

In addition to being a Commissioner on the Racial Justice Commission, he is Chair of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board; a Commissioner on the US Commission for International Religious Freedom; and a member of NYC Mayor-elect Eric Adams’ transition committee on Public Safety and Justice.

He has served as Deputy Borough President of Manhattan, chief of staff to a deputy mayor and chief of staff to the President of the NYC Board of Education. He was appointed by President Obama to the White House Council for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Mr. Davie has also held distinguished leadership roles in the non-profit and philanthropic sectors, including the Ford Foundation and NYC Mission Society. An ordained Presbyterian minister, Rev. Davie is a graduate of Greensboro College and Yale University Divinity School.

Lurie Daniel Favors, Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College
Lurie Daniel Favors

Executive Director, Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College

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Lurie Daniel Favors, Esq. serves as Executive Director at the Center for Law and Social Justice at Medgar Evers College. She is an activist and attorney with a long-standing commitment to racial and social justice.

Before completing law school, Ms. Daniel Favors co-founded Sankofa Community Empowerment, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to educate and empower communities of African descent. She later co-founded Breaking the Cycle Consulting Services LLC, which specializes in creating comprehensive professional development for educators, youth education programs and family engagement workshops designed to address the crisis in urban education through the use of culturally responsive teaching. Ms. Daniel Favors hosts the Lurie Daniel Favors Show on Sirius XM’s Urban View Network and she co-hosts the Sunday Civics show which appears on the same network.

Ms. Daniel Favors started her legal career as an attorney in the New York offices of Proskauer Rose LLP and Manatt Phelps and Phillips, LLP. She also served as a federal court law clerk in the chambers of the Honorable Sterling Johnson, Jr., in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She later founded Daniel Favors Law PLLC, a law firm that focused on economic and racial justice. Ms. Daniel Favors earned her J.D. from New York University, where she was a Root-Tilden-Kern public interest scholar and she graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a BA in African and African American Studies, with a Minor in Spanish Language.

Ms. Daniel Favors is a contributing author to The Birth of a Nation: Nat Turner and the Making of a Movement. She has also penned Afro State of Mind: Memories of a Nappy Headed Black Girl. Ms. Daniel Favors adheres to the West African principle of sankofa and believes one must use the past in order to understand the present and build for a brighter future.

Darrick Hamilton, Founding Director, Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School and Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy
Darrick Hamilton

Founding Director, Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School and Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy

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Darrick Hamilton is a university professor, Henry Cohen Professor of Economics and Urban Policy, and founding director of the Institute on Race, Power and Political Economy at The New School. Darrick examines social stratification and political economy in order to move policy and practice in fundamentally new directions that promote economic inclusion, social equity, and civic engagement. 

Considered one of the nation’s foremost public intellectuals, Darrick has been profiled in the New York Times, Mother Jones, and the Wall Street Journal. In 2017, he was featured in Politico’s50 Ideas Shaping American Politics and the People Behind Them issue. In 2020, Darrick was named a Freedom Scholar by the Marguerite Casey Foundation and the Group Health Foundation. 

Darrick has been involved in crafting policy proposals that have garnered media attention and inspired legislative proposals at the federal, state, and local levels, including baby bonds, guaranteed income, and a federal job guarantee. In 2020, Darrick served as a member of the economic committee of the Biden-Sanders Unity Task Force. He has testified before several Senate and House committees, including the Joint Economic Committee and the Senate Banking Committee. 

Darrick was born and raised in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, New York. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and received a PhD in Economics from the University of North Carolina.

Christopher Kui, President, RISE NOW Inc. and Former Executive Director, Asian Americans for Equality
Christopher Kui

President, RISE NOW Inc. and Former Executive Director, Asian Americans for Equality

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Christopher Kui is a pioneer of the community development movement and a long-time champion of community services and civil rights, advocating for the minority and immigrant communities of New York City.

Mr. Kui is President of RISE NOW Inc. and currently serves as a Commissioner on the NYC Racial Justice Commission that simultaneously serves as a charter revision commission. In 2018, Mr. Kui retired after 30 years from his role as Executive Director of Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE). Mr. Kui is also the founder and former Chair of the Board of Directors of the Renaissance Economic Development Corporation (REDC), a U.S. Department of Treasury certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).

In addition to serving as Commissioner on the New York City Planning Commission from 2003–2007, Mr. Kui has also served on the transition teams of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Mayors Michael Bloomberg, Rudolph Giuliani and David Dinkins.

Mr. Kui, an Asian American who immigrated to New York from Hong Kong in 1970, holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from New York University and a fellowship in government from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He was awarded a James A. Johnson Fellowship, a program of the Fannie Mae Foundation, and a Kellogg National Fellowship in connection with the Kellogg Foundation.

Yesenia Mata, Executive Director, La Colmena
Yesenia Mata

Executive Director, La Colmena

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Yesenia Mata is an immigration and veteran activist. As the daughter of formerly undocumented immigrants, Yesenia has been advocating for immigration reform. She has written on The Hill, Huffington Post, and Univision.

She was the former National Latino Outreach Strategist for Bernie Sander’s Presidential Campaign, where she organized the Latino communities in Chicago, Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, California, and Florida. She also was the Political Director for the Dream Action Coalition, a national organization that advocates for immigration reform.

She has been recognized by City & State as top 100 in Labor and by New York State Hispanic Coalition as a “40 under 40 Rising Star” and received a prestigious Proclamation from the City of New York for her work in the Latinx community. She is a commissioner for the NYC Racial Justice Commission, Executive Director of La Colmena an Immigration/Day Labor Rights Organization and serves in the U.S. Army as a Military Police Specialist.

J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives
J. Phillip Thompson

Former Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives

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As Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives, Deputy Mayor Thompson is responsible for spearheading a diverse collection of priority initiatives. This expansive portfolio includes Democracy NYC, the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises Program, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, and the Young Men’s Initiative.

Additionally, his agency portfolio includes the Department of Youth and Community Development; the Department of Small Business Services; the Commission on Human Rights; the Department of Veterans’ Services; the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities; the Civic Engagement Commission; and the NYC Public Engagement Unit. Deputy Mayor Thompson also serves as Co-Chair on the City’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity, and as a Commissioner on the City’s Racial Justice Commission.

Prior to joining the de Blasio administration, Thompson was an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy published in 2006 by Oxford University Press. He has also written and worked extensively on community health planning, race and community development, and the politics of black economic advancement.

Thompson also has an extensive background in New York City Government. He previously served in the Dinkins Administration as the Deputy General Manager for Operations and Development, and before that served in the Manhattan Borough President’s Office.

He received a B.A. in Sociology from Harvard University in 1977, a Masters in Urban Planning from Hunter College in 1986, and a PhD from the City University of New York Graduate Center in 1990.

Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director, Asian American Federation
Jo-Ann Yoo

Executive Director, Asian American Federation

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Jo-Ann Yoo is the executive director of the Asian American Federation (AAF), a membership organization that works with the nearly seventy nonprofits that represent and support the pan-Asian community. Established in 1989 under the mission to raise the influence and well-being of the pan-Asian American community through research, policy advocacy, public awareness and organizational development, AAF is a pan-Asian non-profit organization representing a network of 70 community service agencies in the Northeast. These agencies work in the fields of health & human services, education, economic development, civic participation, and social justice.  

Jo-Ann’s professional experiences include program management and operations, fundraising, and advocacy in the fields of community development and immigrant rights. Jo-Ann currently serves on the NYC’s Racial Justice Commission for New York City’s Charter revision, and on New York State’s Racial Equity Task Force for Vaccine Distribution, as well as on the boards of Nonprofit New York and the Advocacy Institute. Ms. Yoo was named to City and State NY’s 2021 Power 100, acknowledging the impact of NY’s nonprofits & their leaders on our City. Jo-Ann is particularly proud of her immigrant heritage and loves to hear others’ immigration stories.  


Present and past staff of the Racial Justice Commission.

Harold Miller
Executive Director

Joseph Rivera
Director of Outreach and Engagement

Anusha Venkataraman
Emeritus Executive Director

Melanie Ash
General Counsel

Erin Berry
Deputy General Counsel

Bianca Isaias
Associate General Counsel

Rachel Cato
Chief of Operations

Tashawn Morgan
Deputy Chief of Staff

Kapil Longani
Senior Advisor to the Racial Justice Commission

Jessica Guerrasio
Communications Director

Jimmy Pan
Policy Director and Special Counsel

Sam Stanton
Deputy Director of Policy and Legal Counsel

Eden Mulate
Policy Advisor

Jacqueline Kennedy
Public Engagement Director

Chi Nguyễn
Senior Advisor

Steph Halpin
Communications Director

Davina Lee