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The DPF Board of Directors announced this week that longtime social and criminal justice advocate Magdaleno Rose-Avila has been appointed to the position of Executive Director.

Announcing the decision, DPF President Mike Farrell said,“I couldn’t be happier to announce that Leno has signed on to lead Death Penalty Focus, an organization he has supported for many years. Leno’s commitment to social and criminal justice is demonstrated by his lifelong work with the most underrepresented and marginalized members of society. He has worked with gang members, farmworkers, and death row exonerees. He brings a depth of experience, and great passion to advancing our mission to abolish the death penalty.”

Rose-Avila most recently served as Executive Director of Witness to Innocence, a Philadelphia-based organization that represents the men and women who have been exonerated from death rows around the nation and are working to end the death penalty by educating the public about innocence and wrongful convictions.

Rose-Avila has also served as the Human Rights Director of Washington state’s Latino Community Fund; Executive Director of the Cesar E. Chavez Foundation; the Western Regional Director of Amnesty International; and was a founder and Executive Director of Moratorium 2000, working with Sister Helen Prejean, the organization’s chair.

“I am excited to join one of the premier anti-death penalty organizations in the country,” Rose-Avila said. “DPF has long been a voice in the world-wide movement for abolition. California is a key state in the fight not only because it has the largest death row population in the Western Hemisphere, but also because of the size of its economy, its political influence nationally, and its diverse, and young voting population. All major struggles, such as the women’s, immigrant, LGBTQ, and civil rights movements show us that social change is not easy but it can be achieved. DPF and the abolition movement have made much progress, and I am proud to lead this organization as we continue to move forward.”

Rose-Avila will relocate to California from Philadelphia, and will assume his new position on June 12, 2018.

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