NEW CITY, N.Y. -- Pomona resident Penny Jennings has been named as Rockland County’s new human rights commissioner, according to County Executive Ed Day.
Jennings, who will also be the county’s director of community development, will replace Ram Nagubandi, who stepped down in April after being placed on paid leave by the county.
Day praised Jennings as a "highly educated, intelligent woman who has already demonstrated her commitment to making Rockland a better place."
The county executive pointed to her contributions to organizations such as the NAACP.
Jennings founded Adults Caring for Teens (A.C.T. Inc.), a nonprofit based in Nyack which provides trained adult mentors for at-risk youth.
Day said that Jennings was area director for WESTCop, the Rockland Community Action Partnership, which coordinates anti-poverty strategies in Spring Valley and Haverstraw.
Jennings, "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.
Jennings’ efforts have also been recognized by the Rockland Youth Bureau, the Rockland district attorney, Orangetown, Clarkstown, Nyack, the state Assembly, and the Westchester Board of Legislators.
She worked briefly as a corrections officer at Rikers Island and was also once employed by the New York City Transit Authority.
Jennings earned her associate’s degree at Rockland Community College and her master’s degree and a doctorate in law and policy from Northeastern University.
Nagubandi, who had been human rights commissioner since 2000, had also acted as the head of the county’s Community Development Department since 2014.
Nagubandi, a Harvard University graduate, had resigned from his $102,000-a-year position a year before his contract was to end.
According to media reports, county officials had accused him of “dereliction of duty,” such as failing to pursue certain federal grants.
Nagubandi, who had been placed on paid lead in April, sued the county, claiming that his civil rights had been violated, media reports said.
He and the county reached a settlement on that suit last week, lohud.com reported.
According lohud.com , the county had also accused Nagubandi of being unable to unite different groups in the community.
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