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An Interview with Commissioner Madhu Singh

Commissioner Madhu Singh is one of the newest appointees to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC). She was appointed in June 2015 by Governor John Kasich and celebrated her second anniversary with the commission this summer. In 1972, Commissioner Singh and her husband immigrated to the United States from India and moved to the Youngstown area. Although they intended to only stay for two years at most, the stay extended as Commissioner Singh earned a degree in public relations and advertising from Youngstown State University, established a successful travel agency, and started giving back to the community. Today, she is a mother, grandmother, and successful businesswoman; she lives with her husband of 52 years in Bath, Ohio.
While in Youngstown, Commissioner Singh set her sights on aiding new arrivals to the United States. She worked with an organization that encouraged the community to become more involved with settling refugees in the area. The organization brought together different ethnic communities and local businesses for cultural programs and encouraged them to work toward mutual understanding.
Commissioner Singh attributes her business success to an ability to build relationships. She uses the same philosophy to shape her approach to the OCRC’s mission. She says understanding the law and its limitations are necessary components of effective and appropriate government service. She learned this valuable lesson while working as a liaison between the Ohio Secretary of State’s office and several county boards of election.
Since serving on the OCRC, Commissioner Singh says she has learned that fairness and winning are not always synonymous. Commissioners must listen attentively to both sides. They must look at the laws and understand the multiple perspectives of an entire case. Then, commissioners must apply the law and fairness to their decision-making process. Fairness could mean assisting the parties in reaching a resolution, or it may involve correcting a misunderstanding. And other times, it just means being heard. 
The OCRC provides training in a variety of areas, and Commissioner Singh believes providing continued training to prevent discrimination should be the commission’s number one priority. She believes many of the cases the OCRC sees come from a lack of understanding of the laws – especially in housing.  
Commissioner Singh says the commission and its staff can make a difference and help people receive what is right and just. She says, “To give a hand to somebody in need, and they take it and go on with their lives to help somebody else, that’s what is important.”