Jeanette Castagnola Lazelle is the Director of the Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs (DIPA). Prior to joining the Department of Labor, Jeanette worked for the US Small Business Administration ("SBA") Disaster Assistance Division as an Attorney Advisor. She helped victims of declared disasters obtain SBA business, home, and personal loans. Jeanette often assisted businesses and homeowners in Puerto Rico in the rebuilding of their businesses and homes after the devastating damages caused by hurricanes, floods and other declared disasters. Toward the end of her term with the SBA, Jeanette supervised a group of attorneys and paralegals in lower Manhattan assisting those directly impacted by the events of 9/11 with obtaining business and home loans to assist with their recovery.
Jeanette then joined the New York State Department of Labor where she worked for six years as a Labor Standards Investigator-Spanish Language. As an investigator, Jeanette conducted wage and labor law investigations, including farm inspections. In addition to ensuring that businesses were in compliance with NYS labor laws, Jeanette educated employers and workers about their rights and responsibilities under the law. In 2010, Jeanette became the New York State Monitor Advocate. As Monitor Advocate, she monitored and evaluated the services that were provided to migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFWs). Federal Regulations require that Department of Labor services be provided to MSFWs at a level that is comparable to those offered to all other workers. In 2012, Jeanette became DIPAs Acting Assistant Director. As Acting Assistant Director Jeanette worked with Vilda Vera Mayuga in directing the policy and programs that directly impact all farmers and farmworkers in New York State. In both roles, Jeanette educated farmers and assisted them in complying with New York's labor laws. And now as the Division Director, Jeanette will begin to widen her focus to all the programs and initiatives within DIPA which include anti-human trafficking efforts, state mandated language access and other DIPA projects. But her goals regarding the Agriculture Labor Program will continue to be the same: to support both farmers and farmworkers so that agriculture remains a viable, profitable and safe industry for growers and workers.
Community Relations Officer
As a DIPA Community Relations Officer, Geovanny reaches out to workers, and collaborates with faith-based groups, community organizations, and government representatives on behalf of immigrants and limited English proficient workers. His territory includes western, central, and upstate New York State. He speaks English and Spanish.
Geovanny has been a Community Relations Officer since July 2007. Before joining DIPA, Geovanny was the Outreach Coordinator for the Workers' Rights Law Center of New York, and before that, held a similar position at the Farmworker Law Project, a statewide program of the Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York. Both are non-for-profit advocacy organizations that educate, counsel, and represent indigent workers regarding labor and civil rights matters.
In his current position, Geovanny continues to educate workers about labor rights and available nonprofit and government services. He partners with organizations to improve the Department of Labor's accessibility and responsiveness to workers, with a focus on low-wage and immigrant workers, and he collaborates on inter-organizational initiatives to assist members of New Yorks vulnerable workforce.
Supervising Community Relations Liaison
As a DIPA Community Relations Officer, Carmen reaches out to workers, and collaborates with faith-based groups, community organizations, and government representatives on behalf of immigrants and limited English proficient workers. Her territory includes New York City, Long Island, and Westchester, Putnam, and Rockland Counties. She speaks English and Spanish.
Before joining DIPA, Carmen worked at various community organizations, including at the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health as an Immigrant Safety & Health Specialist, where her work was dedicated to assisting immigrant workers who helped in rescue, cleanup, and recovery efforts after 9/11. She also worked at Latino Justice as an intake and outreach worker/paralegal, and co-founded its 9/11 program, Proyecto Ayuda. She has worked extensively in the areas of social services and civil rights, advocating for equal justice in the Latino and immigrant communities, including as the chair of the Williamsburg/Southside Fair Housing Committee for Equal Justice. She has also served on many boards and helped co-found organizations such as El Puente, Habitantes Unidos para Preservar a Williamsburg, Trinity SRO, Trinity/Transfiguration Church Homeless Shelter, Casa Bethsaida, Musica against Drugs, and La Cocina.
Community Relations Officer
As a Community Relations Officer for the Agricultural Labor Program under DIPA, Estelle reaches out to workers, employers, and the organizations that support both groups to ensure labor rights are protected and businesses are supported in meeting their workforce requirements. This is primarily done through presentations to agricultural workers and community-based organizations and aiding employers with accessing DOL business services. Estelle supervises the five Western and Central New York Agriculture Labor Specialists, stationed from Syracuse to Buffalo.
She is originally from Washington State. Before joining DIPA, Estelle worked at Cabrini providing Iegal assistance and social services to immigrant populations. Estelle also has experience in Trafficking and Domestic Violence cases through Safe Horizon, and handled wage and hour violations as part of her clinical work. She speaks English and Spanish, and is a member of the New York State Bar.
Community Outreach and Trafficking Specialist
Christine Tavares-Hamilton is the Community Outreach & Trafficking Specialist for the lower Hudson and NYC areas of the state. Prior to joining the Division of Immigrant Policies and Affairs (DIPA) at the NYS Department of Labor, Christine worked as a hotline specialist for the New York State Spanish Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence Hotline. At the hotline, she was responsible for helping victims and assessing their needs. She handled 300 crisis calls per month, and distributed educational materials to state agencies. Prior to that, she was a bilingual domestic violence counselor for Help R.O.A.D.S., a non-profit organization in Brooklyn, NY. At Help R.O.A.D.S. she served as a counselor and advocate for domestic violence victims.
From 2010 through 2014 Christine worked as Program Assistant for DIPA. As Program Assistant she managed the DIPA Hotline, helped fellow staff with various projects, such as the translation of H-2A Job Orders and planning outreach events and presentations to agencies, consulates, and businesses throughout the state. Now as the Community Outreach and Trafficking Specialist she plans to use all of her past experience in a new capacity of helping labor trafficking victims by assessing their needs, helping them navigate the process with the Department of Labor better, and referring them to other agencies depending on their needs. She plans to partner with community and faith based organizations, elected officials, advocacy groups, and others to bridge cultural and language barriers faced by immigrant workers by educating them about their labor rights and about the services offered by the New York State Department of Labor. Christine is glad to be part of a team that helps make a difference in these people's lives. Christine speaks English and Spanish.
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