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Human Rights Commission

About Us:

The City of Newton established the Newton Human Rights Commission in 1973 to ensure mutual understanding and respect among all persons in the City by promoting acceptance of diversity and combating discrimination. The Commissioners and Advisory Council members come from all walks of life and are volunteers who live or work in Newton. 


Bryan Barash
Jane Brown
Hattie N. Kerwin Derrick, Chair
Rabbi Eric Gurvis
Eli Ingraham
David Kuppenheimer
Tamika Olszewski
Brooke Foucault Welles

Advisory Council Members

Lt. Bruce Apotheker
Viviana Planine
Frank Wolpe

What we do:

  • Educate the public by presenting informative programs and discussions on human rights issues.
  • Collaborate with residents, school staff, students, and businesses to support Newton's diversity initiatives.
  • Resolve complaints of local discrimination through mediation or referral to the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.

Human Rights Commission Ordinance (2014)

Human Rights Commission Brochure

LGBTQ+ Resource Guide


HRC meetings are open to the public. We meet at 7:00 pm in Room B15, on the basement level of Newton City Hall (unless otherwise noted). Upcoming meetings:

  • October 6, 2020
  • November 3, 2020
  • December 10, 2020 (Human Rights Award Night)
  • January 5, 2021
  • February 2, 2021
  • March 2, 2021
  • April 6, 2021
  • May 4, 2021
  • June 1, 2021 (Pride flag raising)
  • July 6, 2021

The location of this meeting is wheelchair accessible and reasonable accommodations will be provided to persons with disabilities who require assistance. If you need a reasonable accommodation, please contact the City of Newton’s ADA/Sec. 504 Coordinator, Jini Fairley, at least two business days in advance of the meeting: or (617) 796-1253. The City’s TTY/TDD direct line is: (617) 796-1089. For the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS), please dial 711.

Have you been a victim of discrimination?

The Newton Human Rights Commission provides support, advice and resources within the community.

To report a human rights violation or for additional information about the Commission, complete and submit a Complaint Form.

To file a Fair Housing Complaint, complete and submit a  Housing Discrimination Complaint Form.  Click here for information on Fair Housing.

News and Events

Open to All

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States in the Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission case found in favor of a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple.

In response to this verdict, the Human Rights Campaign  (HRC), a national organization fighting for the rights of the LGBTQ community, created a sign designed to allow businesses to proudly state that they will not turn away anyone based on who they are or whom they love.

The Newton-Needham Regional Chamber is working with a group of local organizers to blanket Needham and Newton with signs stating that local businesses are #OpenToAll.

If you would like to display a free sign for the window of your place of business or add this logo to your company's website, please click here. (A volunteer will deliver a free sign to your business). Posters are also available at the Newton City Hall in the Mayor's Office.

2018 Pride Flag Raising



Click here to see NewTV's coverage of the 2018 Pride Flag Raising ceremony (the story starts around the 1 minute mark).

Days of Remembrance: Honoring Victims of Genocide

Every April, the Newton Human Rights Commission takes time to honor the memory of the victims of genocide and reaffirm our commitment to counter intolerance that leads to group-targeted violence. Through education, we hope to help turn "Again and Again" into "Never Again." We invite you to view our slide show that defines genocide, provides information on examples of genocide in the 20th and 21st centuries, and gives you ideas on what you can do to help combat the problem.

Statement from February 7, 2017 Meeting

We, the Newton Human Rights Commission, support the Welcoming City Ordinance proposed by Mayor Warren, Police Chief MacDonald, and all co-docketers, including many city councilors and former Mayor David Cohen. 

We believe this ordinance promotes the mission of the Human Rights Commission by affirming Newton as a safe and welcoming city for all, regardless of immigration status.

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