Day tabs Dr. Penny Jennings to replace Ram Nagubandi as commissioner of Human Rights

Jennings speaks at a 2011 event

Rockland County Executive Ed Day is naming Dr. Penny Jennings as his choice for Commissioner of Human Rights.

“Dr. Penny Jennings is a highly educated, intelligent woman who has already demonstrated her commitment to making Rockland a better place,” said Rockland County Executive Ed Day. “Her contributions have been recognized by many people and organizations including the NAACP which has honored her numerous times for Excellence in Achievement and for Empowering the Lives of Young People.”

In this position, she will also be director of Community Development.

Jennings, a resident of Pomona, has focused her career on bringing people together. When she saw a need for an organization to mentor young people, she founded A.C.T., Inc. – Adults Caring for Teens, a not-for-profit based in Nyack which provides trained adult mentors for at-risk youth.

She has also served as area director for WESTCop, the Rockland Community Action Partnership, which put her in the lead of coordinating anti-poverty strategies in Spring Valley and Haverstraw.

“Penny knows how to bring people together – how to engage different parts of the community, how to unite the community behind a common goal,” Day said. “These are the skills that she will use as Rockland Commissioner of Human Rights.”

In addition to being honored by the NAACP, her talents and commitment have been recognized  the Rockland Youth Bureau, the Rockland District Attorney, the towns of Orangetown and Clarkstown, the village of Nyack, the New York state Assembly, the Westchester Board of Legislators.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and President Obama have also recognized and honored Penny’s contributions. She has had a variety of career experiences that have taught her much about people, communities and the power of government to achieve positive change.

She worked very briefly early in her career as a corrections officer at Riker’s Island. Then she was part of the New York City Transit Authority.

A friend lived in Rockland and when she came to visit, she decided this was where she wanted to raise her family. She went to RCC to earn her associates degree. Then a master’s degree and then a doctorate in law and policy from Northeastern University.

Jennings has done research and taught in the fields of social policy, public and non-profit organizational management, public administration, public budgeting, human resource management, ethics, human rights and youth development.

She will be replacing 16-year former Commissioner Ram Nagubandi, who resigned a year before the end of his contract after being placed on paid leave by the county. Nagubandi had a falling out with senior county officials including Day and was accused of “dereliction of duty” for failing to pursue federal grants available to his office.

Nagubandi sued the county over the accusations and a resignation and settlement package was soon reached between the two sides.

The commissioner job pays $102,000 annually.

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