Mayor de Blasio today appointed Annabel Palma as the next Commissioner and Chair of the NYC Commission on Human Rights.
Palma most recently served as the Chief Equity Officer of the City’s COVID-19 Test & Trace Corps, where she worked to fight disparities laid bare by COVID-19 and get New Yorkers across the five boroughs vaccinated. Palma also worked closely with the City’s Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) to support response and recovery efforts in the hardest-hit communities. As Commissioner and Chair of NYC Commission on Human Rights, Palma will lead enforcement of New York City’s Human Rights Law—one of the most comprehensive civil rights laws in the nation.
“From fighting inequities laid bare by COVID-19 to her work launching critical programs at the Department of Social Services to representing her community in the City Council, Annabel has dedicated her career to making government work better on behalf of the most vulnerable New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “As Commissioner and Chair of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, Annabel will continue to use her talents to protect the civil rights of all New Yorkers.”
“Whether as a nursing assistant, a union organizer, or Council Member, Annabel has a proven track-record of fighting on behalf of communities. Her experience and commitment in this fight make her the perfect choice to lead the City’s Commission on Human Rights,” said J. Phillip Thompson, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives. “In her role as Chair and Commissioner, I am confident that Annabel will work tirelessly to ensure all New Yorkers are aware of and protected by the City’s Human Rights Law. New Yorkers are lucky to have a civil rights champion like Annabel on their side.”
“Annabel’s career has been dedicated to fighting for a diverse and just City for all New Yorkers,” said Melanie Hartzog, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. “From fighting disparities exposed by COVID-19 as part of NYC’s Test and Trace Corp to pushing forward strategic initiatives at the Department of Social Services, Annabel’s passion makes her the right voice to lead the NYC Commission on Human Rights. I look forward to working with her in her new role.”
“It is truly humbling to be appointed to serve as Chair and Commissioner of NYC Human Rights Commission. Throughout my life I have faced many of the issues that the Human Rights Commission handles,” said Commissioner and Chair of the NYC Commission on Human Rights Annabel Palma. “Those life experiences have driven me to work tirelessly to serve the most vulnerable, empower communities, and bring about change. Change is not accomplished overnight but through hard work, dedication and perseverance we can bring about the change we need to continue to build stronger communities. I am immensely grateful to Mayor de Blasio for the opportunity to continue to build on the great work that has been done and look forward to continue serving all New Yorkers.”
“Annabel Palma is a distinguished public servant, with great depth of knowledge of community needs, a proven track record of community service, and broad experience that comes from decades of work in a range of roles,” said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “I congratulate her on this appointment and I know she will continue to be a strong advocate for effective government and positive change on behalf of all New Yorkers.”
“When COVID-19 struck, Annabel led the NYC Test and Trace Corps as our Chief Equity Officer to narrow the pandemic’s devastating health disparities,” said Dr. Ted Long, Executive Director of the NYC Test & Trace Corps and Senior Vice President of Ambulatory Care and Population Health at NYC Health + Hospitals. “We are grateful for her incredible contributions to our fight against the largest public health crisis of our generation. Equality and human rights have been the central focus of all her work. From her service in the City Council advocating for the Bronx, to her time as Deputy Commissioner at NYC DSS helping those experiencing homelessness, she is a champion of equity and opportunity. I congratulate Annabel on her appointment as Commissioner of CCHR. New Yorkers are fortunate to have her as an advocate in this new role!”
Annabel Palma has decades of experience fighting for diverse communities and uplifting working families. Early in her career, Palma served her community as a nursing assistant and was elected a union representative in 1994. In 1998, Annabel enrolled at Monroe College and earned her Associate’s Degree in Business Administration, while she worked a full-time job and raised her son. She graduated Summa Cum Laude, and in 1999, joined 1199SEIU NY as a full-time organizer. In 2003, Palma was elected to the New York City Council, where she served from 2004 to 2017, representing District 18 in the Bronx.
After her service in the City Council, Palma was appointed by Mayor de Blasio to serve as Deputy Commissioner of Strategic Initiatives in the Department of Social Services-HRA/DHS. As Deputy Commissioner, Palma helped to launch the Journey Home, the City’s Action Plan to End Long-Term Street Homelessness. Her personal experience with homelessness gave her an even deeper understanding of the unique stories of homeless individuals and the moral duty of the City to help all New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.
When COVID-19 hit New York City and the Mayor created the NYC Test & Trace Corps, he then named Palma to lead Test & Trace’s efforts to ensure equity in the City’s response to the pandemic. As Chief Equity Officer, Palma worked to ensure equitable distribution of resources and services in every borough, community, and neighborhood. From getting New Yorkers tested to helping people safely isolate to prevent further spread of COVID-19 to getting New Yorkers vaccinated, Palma and her team brought resources directly to communities and into the hands of those most in need.
“I am pleased to see that a distinguished public servant and Bronxite, Annabel Palma, has been appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to serve as Commissioner and Chair of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Prior to entering government, Commissioner Palma was at the forefront of human rights and healthcare as a Certified Nursing Assistant. During her tenure as a City Council Member, she chaired the General Welfare Committee and held the role of Dean of the Bronx Delegation. She later went on to serve our city in the Department of Social Services-HRA/DHS, and most recently she has ensured that no one is left behind in our city’s pandemic response through her position of Chief Equity Officer at the New York City Test & Trace Corps. Her years of service to The Bronx and The City of New York show she will undoubtedly be a strong advocate and voice for all New Yorkers, and I congratulate her on this new role.”
“I want to commend and congratulate my former colleague in the City Council, Annabel Palma on her appointment as Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights,” said Council Member Mathieu Eugene. “As the Chair of the Committee on Civil and Human Rights, I am well aware of how important this role is in enforcing New York City’s Human Rights law, and Annabel Palma is extremely qualified and well-deserving of her new position. I appreciate and respect her many years of dedicated public service to New Yorkers, both in the City Council and as Deputy Commissioner in the Department of Social Services, as well as her leadership of Test and Trace efforts during the pandemic. I wish her much success leading the NYC Commission on Human Rights, and I am confident that she will be instrumental in expanding protections against unjust treatment and discrimination in New York City.”
“Congratulations to my friend and former colleague Annabel Palma on being appointed Commissioner and Chair of the Commission on Human Rights. During her time in the City Council, the City’s COVID-19 Test and Trace Corps and the Racial Inclusion and Equity Taskforce, she has advocated and fought for the rights of all New Yorkers and she will continue this commitment in her new role,” said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. “I wish Commissioner Palma the very best and know she will use the Commission on Human Rights to combat discrimination and provide opportunities for all New Yorkers regardless of who they are.”
“The protection and advancement of human dignity and rights for all New Yorkers is important – particularly in these challenging times. Annabel Palma brings a wealth of personal and professional experience that will serve her, and New York, well in this critical position,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.
“Annabel is a committed public servant. Whether sitting across from her when she was Chair of the Social Services Committee in the City Council or shoulder to shoulder as we served the most vulnerable New Yorkers in the Department of Social Services, her commitment to improving the lives of all New Yorkers regardless of zip code never wavered,” said Grace Bonilla, formally HRA Administrator, currently SVP for Latin America at Covenant House International. “I have no doubt that she will bring the same energy and vision to the Human Rights Commission and help build a more equitable city reflective of our values and our diversity.”
Photo: NYC Council