Velasquez testifies on his nomination for Office of Human Rights
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Velasquez testifies on his nomination for Office of Human Rights


PR17-0027 “Director of the Office of Human Rights,
Gustavo F. Velasquez Confirmation Resolution of 2007”


FEBRUARY 9, 2007


Madam Chair Carol Schwartz and members of the Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations.

My name is Gustavo Velasquez, and I sit in front of you today …with the genuine aspiration to continue serving, without distinction, all residents and employers of the District of Columbia; this time as the Director of the Office of Human Rights. I am honored to having become Mayor Fenty’s choice for this important job, and I am grateful for the Mayor’s confidence.

I wish to commend the Council of the District of Columbia for their commitment to human rights by enacting one of the most comprehensive civil rights statutes in the United States, and by ensuring that sufficient resources exist for an effective Human Rights office in the city, and I look forward to working with you Madam Chair, and all other members of this Committee, to keep on with this promise.

To begin with, let me state my ultimate goal, should I become confirmed: ……….to make human rights the number one priority in the nation’s capital.

I strongly believe that my qualifications and experiences have prepared me very well for this unique position.

I am a product of a community that in this country has struggled, and continues to make great effort, for equal rights. First as an immigrant, and then as a proud citizen of the United States, I have studied and become familiar with our country’s civil rights movement; a movement whose results, in spite of progress and achievement, remain incomplete.

I’m proud of my more than 10-year record in the non-profit, private and government arenas. I have raised the standards, productivity, and quality of the services and organizations I have been a part of during my career. I have provided evidential analysis and recommendations for new programs and new policies under my jurisdiction….in every position I’ve held. I have advocated for people in great need, whether living with AIDS, lacking affordable and decent housing, recently arrived to America, presenting behavioral and mental problems, dropping out of school, or unable to read and write. In all those instances, I’ve work with talented professionals, other advocates, community groups, and policy makers to gain successful outcomes in the lives of underserved and disenfranchised people.

Madam Chair… vision for The DC Office of Human Rights is one that upholds in the most deliberate, wide-ranging and inclusive ways…..the organization’s mission: the eradication of unlawful discrimination. We will achieve this vision by doing the following:

  1. we will consolidate the agency’s functions into one integral and interrelated process that will guarantee the most comprehensive and quality investigations…. without compromising productivity;

  2. we will also intensify our advocacy role for the practice of good human relations and mutual understanding among the various racial, ethnic and religious groups in the District of Columbia;

  3. we will increase the knowledge of residents and employers about the most essential rights and responsibilities they have as citizens; and,

  4. we will ensure that residents all over the city have a better understanding of the mandate and duties of the DC Office of Human Rights.

Allow me, Madam Chair, to outline specific steps I plan to act on during my first year in this position:

It is my objective, Maddam Chair, to work very closely with my peers and colleagues in strengthening ways that make DC Government the example of respect and assurance to civil rights and equal justice. In the last few weeks I have not been pleased with the amount of complaints we processed from DC government agencies. You have my word that I will work diligently to have this pattern changed through education, awareness and training.

I have begun engaging the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender communities in an open dialogue to make OHR attentive and responsive to their needs. I plan to continue opening the same avenues of communication with leaders and members of communities representing the wide range of constituents we serve. My philosophy in public service, and specifically in this new position, is one that respects the particular demands of different communities, but always acting with honesty and transparency, and in the name of the law.

Maddam Chair and members of the Committee. I’m very excited about this opportunity. I able and ready to the challenge, and look forward to a very productive relationship with all of you to fulfill the mandate of the District Civil Rights Act, and all other federal and local applicable laws under our enforcement jurisdiction.

As I said at the beginning, we have made great progress. The Nation’s Capital remains the heart and soul of our history for equal rights. We will build up to making the promise of justice a reality for us and future generations.

Thank you and I’m ready to answer any questions you may have.

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