107 Washington Avenue;
Albany, New York 12210
Dan D. Irizarry
Born in El Barrio and raised in the South Bronx, Dan Irizarry is a writer, community activist and founder of Capital District Latino Advocacy Through Inter-Neighborhood Outreach Services (CD LATINOS or CDL). Founded in 2011, CDL is a proud affiliate of the Acacia Network, the state’s largest Latino-led health and human services not-for-profit (second largest nationally). In December of 2017, CDL acquired the former St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and repurposed the building as the CDL Cultural Empowerment & Community Engagement Center—the only area Latino-owned institution of its kind in the Capital Region. Dan’s writing has been published in the Albany Times Union, Schenectady Gazette, as well as the New York State Writers Institute Trolley Literary Journal. He is also a frequent guest on WAMC’s The Roundtable radio program.
While a student at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, Dan became acquainted with upstate New York and learned the art of organizing. It was there that he helped to establish the campus’ Anti-Apartheid movement, resulting in Vassar’s eventual divestment from corporations doing business with the racist South African regime. Not content to confine himself to campus organizing, he worked with a local Episcopal priest to create a community center/soup kitchen in the heart of downtown Poughkeepsie, known as the People’s Community Center. The center became a hub for activists and artists, serving as a way station for the likes of William Kunstler and Toshi Seger; the renowned African American artist Bunch Washington also had a studio there. It was also the home of NYPIRG of the Hudson Vally
Dan’s first full-time job was with Mid-Hudson Legal Services for Farm Workers as a paralegal and interpreter. There he helped to organize disenfranchised and exploited workers from the south, Mexico and the Caribbean, into informed litigants in major farm labor class action lawsuits and other impact litigation. Having contributed to significant legal victories for farm workers in the Hudson Valley and beyond, Dan returned to New York City to leverage his education and experiences on behalf of the Black and Latino community of the South Bronx.
The borough he returned to was in the throes of an historic conflagration and an emerging crack epidemic. Coming from a faith-based background – his father, Rev. Elias Irizarry, had worked among East Harlem’s Puerto Rican/Hispanic community for decades – Dan was recruited to work for the historic St. Ann’s Episcopal Church. As Executive Director of the St. Ann’s Development Corp., together with a small staff, Dan organized tenant associations and fought against absentee landlords. Employing a strategy of community empowerment and liberation theology, he worked to enroll blighted buildings into alternative management programs, ultimately helping to stem the tide of abandonment in the neighborhood around the landmark church.
His organizing work led him to a job with the Puerto Rican Association for Community Affairs (PRACA), where Dan was instrumental in establishing a groundbreaking collaboration between community-based organizations, the NYS Office of Court Administration (OCA) and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development: the initiative would eventually become the OCA/HPD Landlord/Tenant Dispute Resolution Centers. HPD would later recruit Dan to serve as the Director of the Bronx Housing Court Dispute Resolution Center, where he led a staff of bilingual mediators responsible for preventing the eviction of thousands of Black and Latino families, thus ensuring their right to safe, decent and affordable housing.
In the late eighties, the nascent NYS Puerto Rican Legislative Task Force sought to recruit Latinos to relocate to Albany and diversify a largely homogenous state workforce. After careful consideration, Dan embarked upon the next phase of his housing career, securing a position with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (today Homes & Community Renewal) at their Albany headquarters. There he served as a special assistant to state Housing Director Angelo Aponte and was soon elevated to the position of Assistant Press Secretary. Dan remained in the Public Information Office serving four Commissioners for over a decade, eventually serving as Press Secretary under Commissioner Judith Calogero. During his last 4 years with the HCR, Dan helped to establish the Office of Sustainability, which ushered in a cutting-edge approach to the development of affordable housing in New York State.
As the founder and Chairman of Capital District LATINOS, Dan was the driving force behind the establishment of Camino Nuevo, the area’s only fully bi-lingual chemical dependency treatment program. Starting in 2014 with a census of only 60, today the clinic provides just under 600 clients with counseling and medically assisted treatment. In 2023, Dan was recruited to serve on the Board of Directors of the Northeastern New York Chapter of the American Red Cross to assist with outreach to the Latinx Community.