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Suffolk names new director for human rights commission

Mary Porter, who has worked as a Manhattan prosecutor and an assistant county attorney, has been named as the new $97,901-a-year executive director of the Suffolk Human Rights Commission.

The 15-member commission voted unanimously last month to make Porter, 48, of Babylon village to the post, which administers the county's human rights law and investigates discrimination complaints in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Rabbi Steven Moss, commission chairman, said Porter's selection came after an extensive search in which two dozen contenders applied. She was chosen from a field of four finalists. Porter, who started in the new post Aug 10, replaces Jennifer Blaske, also an attorney, who left in June for family reasons. Blaske had worked as executive director since 2011 and earlier served as a staff investigator for more than a decade.

"I'm thrilled by Mary's credentials and the dynamic personality she brings to the job," said Moss. He added he expects Porter will "increase the presence of the commission throughout the county . . . Every person in the county should know our organization know when there are cases of discrimination we will stand with them and behind them."

Moss said that Porter has already begun to look for grants to provide new funding for the agency, which has only three investigators. At one time, Moss said, there were at least eight.

Porter said he plans to "use every resource to let people know where here," and she will concentrate on enforcing new provisions of the county human rights law, adopted last January, barring discrimination based on people's source of income, their military status or if they are victims of domestic violence.

"This is something near and dear to my heart," Porter said. "Being a former prosecutor, there a close connection between criminal justice and and human justice."

Born in Washington, D.C. Porter graduated from Howard University and received her law degree from Temple University. She previously served as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's office and acting general counsel for the New York City medical examiner. She also worked with the New York City mayor's criminal justice coordinators office to help develop crime reduction strategies to curb sex trafficking, underage prostitution and gun violence. More recently, she had been a $90,019-a-year senior assistant county attorney since 2013.

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