Pedro Perez

Who is Pedro Perez?

Pedro Perez is committed to social justice and equity. He helps people in poverty gain access to education, sustainable employment, and entrepreneurial opportunities, exemplifying his commitment to equity and social justice. Dedicated to helping those living in poverty, Pedro strives to ensure diversity and inclusion are priorities for every organization with which he works. He rose to the rank of brigadier general in the New York State Police and served as acting superintendent during Governor Spitzer’s and Governor Paterson’s administrations. Pedro made New York State Police history by becoming the highest-ranking Afro-Caribbean Taíno Indian. Throughout his nearly 30-year tenure with this statewide policing agency, he advocated assertively and helped actualize for greater inclusion of minority men and women within its ranks.

Pedro’s credentials

  • Co-chair of the Poverty and Economic Development Group – Capital Region Youth Justice Team (NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services)
    • Seeking equitable and systemic reform of the juvenile justice in New York State
  • Co-chair of the Albany County District Attorney’s Felony Diversion Board
    • Finding alternatives to incarceration while waiting on “raise the age” legislation
  • Master’s in Public Administration from Marist College
  • FBI-certified in Police Science and Leadership
  • Kyoshi – Seventh-degree black belt in Myo Suki Ryu Jujitsu
  • Renshi – Sixth-degree black belt instructor of American Shotokan Karate
  • Afro-Caribbean percussionist performing nationally and internationally

Work history

  • Currently serving as project director, Empire State Poverty Reduction Initiative (ESPRI) at CARES, Albany, New York
    • Tasked with developing and implementing innovative plans to reduce poverty in Albany.
    • Responsible for identifying local stakeholders from the community, local agencies, and institutions to collaborate on the analysis and implementation of sustainable local solutions to reducing poverty by funding the most successful projects and organizations engaged in poverty reduction.
  • Executive director/consultant, My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper, City of Albany, 2015–2017
    • An initiative launched by President Obama dedicated to providing opportunities for young men and women of color to connect to educational and economic success.
    • Partnered with Albany’s Department of Youth and Workforce Services Summer Youth Employment program, providing jobs for more than 1,000 Albany teenagers aged 14–19.
  • Executive director, Capital District YMCA, Albany, 2012–2015
    • Oversaw child development program serving 900 children.
    • Helped establish Albany Promise, a cradle-to-career initiative ensuring children of color are ready to succeed in college and careers.
  • Worked for equity and parity for YMCA employees and constituents.
  • 29-year veteran of the New York State Police, 1981–2010
    • Retired as first deputy superintendent of the NYSP with the rank of brigadier general
      • First Afro-Caribbean Taíno Indian to achieve commissioned officer’s rank
      • As an investigator, handled major cases and serious felonies
      • As a sergeant, supervised state troopers
      • As a sergeant assigned to NYSP’s Affirmative Action Office:
        • Assisted with EEO complaint investigations
        • Audited the agency’s compliance with its diversity goals
        • Presented cultural sensitivity training

Pedro’s aha! moment

Pedro’s aha! moment came in 1995 when he was a major with Troop A serving an eight-county region in New York State. He received a call from a young state trooper working in another part of the state. Even though a call from a trooper to the troop commander of a different troop was outside the chain of command protocol, Pedro accepted the call. On the other end of the line, he was shocked to hear the trooper’s question. “Is this Sensei Perez?”

Fifteen years had passed since Pedro last taught the karate class at Pitt Street Boys Club, serving the poor community on New York City’s Lower East Side, but Pedro realized this was a former student. The young man went on to say he was initially saddened when Perez left the Pitt Street club to join the State Police. He was ten years old and never forgot the lessons in self-discipline and character he learned from his teacher, Sensei Perez.

The trooper on the phone went on to say that when he was in his early 20s, a recruiter visited his neighborhood to recruit minority members for the New York State Police. He remembered Sensei Perez’s move to the NYSP and thought, If it was good enough for Sensei Perez, it’s good enough for me.

The young man went on to say “You have been my role model, a great teacher. I joined the state police, and now I’m a trooper in eastern New York State.” At that moment, Pedro realized he had had a positive impact on one person’s life that resulted in their move out of poverty.

How often do we hear we have changed the life of a young person? Pedro received an unexpected gift from this young man who confirmed Pedro had a positive influence on his life. This aha! moment is one of many stories demonstrating Pedro’s dedication to educating the community and lessening the hopelessness of those living in poverty—one life at a time.

Pedro’s passion

Pedro is passionately dedicated to helping those living in poverty reconnect to educational and economic success, with a focus on people of color. He believes the struggle for our full participation in the American Dream must be sought for each of us if we are ever to be treated with the dignity and respect that is our birthright.

What does Pedro do for fun?

Pedro is a Kyoshi seventh-degree black belt in Myo Suki Ryu Jujitsu and Renshi sixth-degree black belt instructor of karate. He is an Afro-Caribbean master conguero (conga drummer) who performs in the capital region of New York, nationally, and internationally with his own Mambo Dragons band, as well as several other musical groups. Also, he enjoys playing chess ineptly with some of his colleagues.