Long-time Civil Liberties Leader Takes her Advocacy "Inside" Onondaga County Government

Aug 5, 2015

A name synonymous with Central New York’s chapter of the NYCLU for nearly 20 years has taken a new position with Onondaga County.  Lawmakers Tuesday confirmed Barrie Gewanter as the next executive director of the Onondaga County/Syracuse Commission on Human Rights.

Newly confirmed Executive Director of the Onondaga County/Syracuse Commission on Human Rights Barrie Gewanter, left, is congratulated by county legislature minority leader Linda Ervin. Newly confirmed Onondaga County Commissioner of Adult and Long Term Services Lisa Alford looks on.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

"I go from fighting on the outside in support of the bill of rights to fighting for human rights from a position on the inside of government.  It's a huge change for me, and it will also be a challenge in that I have to stand up  these two organizations from scratch."

In her new position, Gewanter will also be overseeing the jail oversight committee that she pressured county lawmakers to create following the deaths of two inmates in two years at the justice center. 

"The mission of the human rights commission is promoting human rights, and that's what I've been doing for so many years in the ACLU.  The methods might be a little bit different, but the mission remains.  And I'm pleased to serve and to be able to focus on one county instead of an entire region."

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle praised Gewanter.  Kevin Holmquist knows their political ideologies couldn't be further apart, but he's enjoyed working with her. 

  Gewanter starts her new job August 24th.