Meet our new Executive Director Angela Fernández

Safe Passage, November 3, 2022

The Safe Passage Project Board of Directors is honored to announce Angela Fernández as the new Executive Director of Safe Passage Project. Safe Passage Project is an immigration legal services organization that provides free legal representation to immigrant youth in the New York City area who are facing removal proceedings. Angela joins the Safe Passage Project team following a year under the successful and thoughtful leadership of Interim Executive Director and current Deputy Executive Director Desireé Hernández Sánchez. 

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as Executive Director for the dynamic and passionate team at Safe Passage Project,” said Ms. Fernández. “Safe Passage’s work ensures that immigrant youth have access to justice and due process, and I look forward to helping build upon the organization’s solid foundation so that we continue to provide quality, zealous representation for our clients.” 

Angela brings 20 years of courageous leadership in the areas of law, non-profit management, advocacy and development.  From 2009-2019, Angela served as the Executive Director and Supervising Attorney of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights (NMCIR), where she expanded their budget to exceed $2.2 million and spearheaded numerous initiatives that spanned federal, state, and local governments, and that positively impacted immigrant communities.  These initiatives include the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, which ensures universal representation for detained immigrants facing deportation, and the “ICE out of Rikers” campaign, which advocates for ending cooperation between the NYPD and ICE.  Under her leadership, NMCIR also transformed its organizational culture, increased its capacity to provide immigration-related legal services (including for individuals facing deportation and those pursuing affirmative relief like DACA, TPS, family-based petitions, and naturalization), and elevated its profile as a nationally-recognized immigrant rights organization known for its bold policies and practices. 

As the former New York State Commissioner for the Division of Human Rights, Angela led a successful turn-around of this investigatory agency. Her work led to a 25% increase in monetary awards to NYS residents who had been discriminated against in housing or employment.  Angela also served on the New York City Civilian Complaint Board, where she vociferously advocated for the repeal of New York Civil Rights Law § 50-a, which required concealment of police disciplinary records from the public.

“Angela Fernández’s experience as an activist, attorney and non-profit leader, her knowledge of philanthropy, and her deep commitment to social justice and the well-being of immigrant communities make her an exceptional choice to lead Safe Passage Project,” said Pam Foster, Safe Passage’s board chair. “An accomplished lawyer and leader, Angela understands the multifaceted needs of Safe Passage Project’s clients as well as the larger issues surrounding the immigration system in this country. The Safe Passage Project board is thrilled that such an experienced and passionate leader is stepping into this role.” 

Prior to her leadership role at Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Angela held numerous positions in media, policy and education fields. She shed light on issues facing marginalized communities as a journalist for ABC News, spearheaded the first of its kind Women’s Studies Program for female detainees at Rikers Island Correctional Facility, and successfully founded and managed two elementary schools in the South Bronx and Washington, DC. Angela was a Non-Profit Leadership Fellow at The Aspen Institute, and is also the recipient of numerous humanitarian awards. 

Angela is a graduate of Boston University and Columbia University School of Law. She lives in Washington Heights with her family.