New York.– Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Dominican elected officials and community leaders, today announced new leadership for the Dominican Day Parade following the agreement his office obtained from the Parade’s long-time organizer, Nelson Peña. For years, the organizations Peña purported to run had no functioning boards of directors, failed to maintain proper books and records, and failed to file the annual reports nonprofits are required to file under State law.
Under the terms of this agreement, Mr. Peña has relinquished all of his positions with the Dominican Day Parade, which is traditionally held in Manhattan on the second Sunday in August. In addition, he has agreed to a minimum three-year ban against assuming any official or leadership role – as a director, officer, employee, agent or otherwise – in the Parade or in any other New York City parade that celebrates the culture and heritage of the Dominican community.
He has further agreed to the dissolution of the various not-for-profit entities that he used over the years to operate and raise monies for the Parade, and has withdrawn the application he filed for a City permit to run the Parade in 2015.
Following Peña’s agreement to resign, a new not-for-profit organization, Dominican Day Parade, Inc., with a new board of distinguished individuals drawn from diverse sectors of the Dominican-American community, has applied for the City’s permit for the Dominican Day Parade. Under the leadership of the new organization, the Parade this year is scheduled to be held on Manhattan’s Avenue of the Americas on August 9, 2015.
“The Dominican Day Parade is a key institution for the celebration of Dominican culture and heritage in New York and throughout the nation,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Whatever nonprofit organization is responsible for its operation must be properly constituted, comply with New York law, and be accountable and transparent. For years, Nelson Peña has run the Parade without regard to these requirements. The Dominican community deserves better, and with the steps announced today, it will receive what it deserves – strong, accountable leadership for the Dominican Day Parade.”
“The Dominican Parade is an important cultural institution in the city, and we are pleased to have worked with the community on a resolution to ensure it continues to be a source of pride, and fulfills its mission of celebrating the contributions of Dominicans to New York City,” said Mayor de Blasio. “The new board will ensure that the desfile will be as strong and vibrant as it should be, and I look forward to joining this year’s festivities.”
“On behalf of the Board, we are absolutely committed to give our beloved Dominican community a Parade of which we can all be proud,” said Angela Fernández, Chair of Dominican Day Parade, Inc. “Our culture and heritage are an integral part of the American story, and deserve to be recognized and celebrated appropriately. We look forward to a great Parade this August and in many years to come.”
New York State Senator Adriano Espaillat said, “Entering its 34th year, the Dominican Day Parade is a mainstay of the Dominican-American community, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators who line up to enjoy the annual celebration of Dominican pride and culture every year. I am confident that the newly formed Dominican Day Parade, Inc., and its impressive board of directors which includes business, cultural, and community leaders, can carry on the tradition of creating a great celebration that shares Dominican culture with attendees from across the city and around the country.”
“The Dominican Day Parade is part of our culture, of our city. We must make sure all Dominicans and New Yorkers keep enjoying this traditional celebration for the years to come. We cannot afford to lose such a wonderful event in our city as hundreds of thousands of parade-goers celebrate Dominican heritage,” New York State Senator Jose Peralta said. I welcome the new leadership and I would like to thank Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for his work and efforts to make the Dominican Day Parade a better institution.”
New York State Assemblymember Guillermo Linares said, “What is most important is that the parade highlights Dominican-American linguistic traditions, cultural values, and reaffirms the contributions of both the diaspora in the United States and the Dominican Republic. Congratulations to the new board and I look forward to a great Dominican parade in August.”
“This is a new day for the Dominican Day parade,” said New York State Assemblymember Victor Pichardo. “On behalf of the Dominican community that I represent in the Bronx, I look forward to working with the new board to make sure our heritage and culture is well represented throughout New York State and around the world.”
New York City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras said, “Like all Dominicanos, I am proud of my heritage and the lives we have built for ourselves in New York City. Our community deserves a celebration that reflects our honest, hardworking, family-oriented and festive spirit. I am convinced that under this new leadership, the Dominican Day Parade will thrive once again as a symbol of how far our community has come.”
New York City Councilmember Ydanis Rodríguez said, “Today marks a new chapter for the Dominican Day Parade. Under the leadership of Angela Fernandez, I am sure that we will see a parade that not only effusively celebrates our heritage and culture but abides by the rules and regulations that protect our communities. With increased accountability we can ensure that the Dominican Day Parade is the best it can be in 2015. Congratulations to Angela, the new Dominican Day Parade board and the entire community on today’s announcement!”
“As a son of Dominican Immigrants and one of the youngest Dominicans elected into office, I have dreamt of marching in the Dominican Parade, but under the previous leadership, I was not allowed to walk because I was branded by Mr. Nelson Peña as not being ‘Dominican’ enough,” said New York CityCouncilmember Rafael Espinal. “I am proud to be part of a coalition that was able to build a team that would make the parade stronger and more inclusive than it has ever been. I look forward to finally being able to proudly march and celebrate my heritage with thousands of my Dominican brothers and sisters.”
New York City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso said, “I am happy to know the Dominican Day Parade will continue to exist under the leadership of the new board. This board is a true reflection of our heritage and talent, they will make our communities proud. We will continue to celebrate the contributions of the Dominican people to the City of New York and this great country. My colleagues in office and I thank the A.G.’s office for its vigilance and assistance in maintaining the staple that is the Parade to Dominicans in New York.”
Julissa Reynoso, Former US Ambassador and Attorney said, “As a New Yorker and Dominican-American, I celebrate this important day for all New Yorkers. The Dominican Day Parade belongs to all of us, and should represent the best of us. I am deeply grateful to Mayor de Blasio, Attorney General Schneiderman and our elected leaders for helping to assemble such a high-quality and inclusive board to carry out this wonderful event.”
Junot Díaz, Dominican-American writer, MIT Professor and Pulitzer Prize Winner said, “I am elated to see the DDP in such extraordinarily capable hands; the Dominican community deserves institutions dedicated to the principles of integrity, transparency, accountabiity and civic-mindedness and this is precisely what this new board will provide us—with a community organization worth celebrating.”
Under the Attorney General’s agreement with Mr. Peña, the organizations to be dissolved are Desfile y Festival Nacional Dominicano, Inc., Comite del Desfile y Festival Dominicano, Inc., Desfile Nacional Dominicano USA, Inc. and Festival Popular Domincano, Inc. Mr Peña has resigned his positions with all of these groups, and has relinquished all control over any of their intellectual property and ownership rights. The organizations are not believed to have any financial assets.
Concurrent with the Attorney General’s agreement with Mr. Peña, the City of New York, working with the elected leaders of the Dominican community throughout the City and the Attorney General’s Office, identified a diverse group of community, business, labor and academic volunteers to form a nonprofit organization capable of leading the Parade consistent with the legitimate expectations of the community. The directors of Dominican Day Parade, Inc., the newly-created nonprofit corporation established for this purpose, include:
Leonardo Ivan Domínguez
Musician, Dancer and Agricultural Scientist
Dr. Bienvenido Fajardo
Physician, affiliated with New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and NYU Langone Medical Center
Executive Director, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights
CEO, Fine Fare Supermarkets and President, National Supermarkets Association
Executive Director, District Council 37
Prof. Ramona Hernández, Ph.D.
Director, CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, Professor of Sociology, City College of New York
President, Khury Tours, Travel & Insurance Inc.
Executive Director, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp.
General Partner, B.L. Capital Partners, L.P.
Dr. Silvio Torres Saillant
Professor of English, College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University
Executive Director, Mirabal Sisters Cultural and Community Center
Executive Vice President, SEIU 1199
The officers of the corporation are Angela Fernandez (Chair); Luis Tejada (1st Vice Chair); Maria Lizardo (2nd Vice Chair); Rudy Fuertes (Treasurer); and Benny Lorenzo (Secretary). Together, the 12 directors of the new nonprofit organization will bring a much broader range of competencies and perspectives to the leadership of the Dominican Day Parade than it has ever enjoyed before.
This matter was handled by Executive Division Senior Enforcement Counsel David Nachman, Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Michael of the Charities Bureau and Charities Bureau Enforcement Section Chief Sean Courtney. The Charities Bureau is led by James Sheehan and the Division of Social Justice by Alvin Bragg.