Metro Weekly

Monica Palacio To Lead OHR

Mayor picks interim D.C. Office of Human Rights director, as Gustavo Velasquez heads to Latino nonprofit

Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) announced Thursday plans to appoint the Office of Human Rights (OHR) Language Access Program Director Mónica Palacio as the interim director of OHR, as current director Gustavo Velasquez moves on to another opportunity.

In his statement announcing his selection of Palacio, the mayor expressed gratitude and appreciation for the work done by OHR under Velasquez’s leadership.

”The District has been extremely fortunate to have Director Velasquez at the helm of OHR for nearly seven years,” Gray said. ”Under his leadership, the agency has dramatically reduced the length of time it takes to investigate complaints of discrimination, and he has pushed OHR toward a more proactive role in preventing discrimination before it occurs. Because of his work, we are a more just and welcoming District.”

Palacio will take over as agency director after Nov. 3, when Velasquez takes on the role of executive director at the Latino Economic Development Center, a nonprofit organization focused on improving economic advancement in the Latino community.

Palacio previously served as a member of the D.C. Commission on Human Rights, as director of training and technical assistance for the National Crime Prevention Council, and as a consultant who offered planning assistance to social-justice organizations. She’s a Ward 4 resident and holds a bachelor’s degree from Fordham University and a doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center.

”Mónica Palacio has spent her career advocating for civil and human rights, and she will undoubtedly use that experience and her legal background to ensure that OHR continues to fulfill its mission to address and prevent discrimination in the District,” Gray said.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at