Executive Staff

Photo of Director G. Michael Payton

G. Michael Payton, Executive Director


Michael is the Executive Director for the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, the state law enforcement agency that administers the Ohio Civil Rights Act in the areas of employment, public accommodations, housing, credit and disabilities in higher education while conducting education and outreach.  Michael oversees a statewide staff of 80 employees who investigate over 4,000 charges of discrimination annually.

Michael previously served as Chief Legal Counsel and Director of Operations for the Commission.  In this capacity, he oversaw and directed civil rights investigations, administrative adjudications, special enforcement initiatives, Alternative Dispute Resolution and community outreach while providing legal advice to the Commission’s staff. 

Michael previously served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Ohio for 11 years.  During this period, he prosecuted cases arising under the Ohio Civil Rights Act while serving as counsel to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.  He then served as Assistant Chief in the Attorney General’s Transportation Section and oversaw and conducted litigation as defense counsel for the Ohio Department of Transportation (“ODOT”) in disputes involving civil rights, construction, contracts, employment, eminent domain and environmental matters.  Michael also served as ODOT’s Real Estate Administrator and in this capacity directed all statewide highway-related real estate acquisition and activities for ODOT. 

Michael has served on the Traffic Stops Procedures Committee for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police and as an advisory committee member to the Ohio State Highway Patrol relating to biased-based policing.  He is a member of the National Association of Human Rights Workers and an Honorary Member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Sigma Iota Epsilon Honor Societies at Wright State University’s Roin College of Business. 

Michael received a national award in April 2003 from EEOC Chairperson Cari Dominguez for innovative proactive prevention initiatives in education and outreach relating to employment discrimination.  Michael is a 2007 recipient of the Ohio Conference NAACP’s Civil Rights Vanguard Award; a 2008 recipient of the Fair Housing Advocates Association’s Keeper of The Dream Award for fair housing advocacy; a 2010 recipient of the Toledo Chapter of the NAACP’s President’s Outstanding Civil Rights Award; a 2013 recipient of the West Virginia Human Rights Commission’s Special Recognition Award in the cause for equality and human dignity; and, a 2013 recipient of The Ohio State University Alumni Association’s Alumni in Government Distinguished Service Award. 

Michael obtained his B.A. in Political Science from The Ohio State University and his Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center.  He is a member of the Bar in the Supreme Court of Ohio, the Southern and Northern Ohio Districts of the United States District Court, and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  He is an active speaker before various legal, professional and community groups. 

Michael lives in Gahanna, Ohio with his wife.  He enjoys reading and golf.

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photograph of Darlene Sweeney-NewbernDarlene Sweeney-Newbern, Director of Regional Operations

Ms. Sweeney-Newbern has over 28 years experience in investigating, supervising and managing employment and fair housing charges for the Commission.  Upon invitation, she has traveled throughout the United States speaking, teaching and training state and federal law enforcement agencies, judges, attorneys, employers, unions, fair housing advocacy groups, realtors, the NAACP, corporations and members of the general public on employment and fair housing laws. 

Ms. Sweeney-Newbern has been an Instructor on fair housing laws and author of two fair housing training manuals for the National Fair Housing Training Academy located in Washington, D.C.. She is a popular motivational speaker who has presented at national and international conferences throughout the United States. During the Obama administration, she met at the White House and in Ohio with senior staff to discuss national housing policy reform.

Ms. Sweeney-Newbern has investigated or consulted in many notable cases, including a $4.3 million settlement in a redlining case against Farmers Insurance in Toledo and an $850,000 settlement in a race and familial status discrimination case involving a Massillon, Ohio landlord who limited the number of African American tenants in his properties. 

Ms. Sweeney-Newbern sits on numerous boards and committees including the Northern Ohio Development Agency (NODA), the Toledo Chapter of the NAACP, Toledo Community Coalition, the Toledo Chief of Police Advisory Board, Dialogue to Change and State of the State Conference Committee.  Ms. Sweeney-Newbern is the recipient of various awards including The Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth Humanitarian Award, Shanna L. Smith-Spirit of Fair Housing Award, Ohio Civil Rights Commission's “Rosa Parks Medal,” the NAACP Outstanding Community Leadership Award and, the “Keeping the Dream Alive Award” for brokering the Farmers Insurance case settlement.

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Photo of Stephanie Bostos Demers, Chief Legal Counsel

Stephanie Bostos-Demers, Chief Legal Counsel

Stephanie Bostos-Demers assumed duties of Chief Legal Counsel for the OCRC on January 13, 2014.   Ms. Demers served as Compliance Director for Columbus State Community College (CSCC) for five years where she provided EEO, labor, HR advise  and served as an adjunct professor.  Stephanie previously held positions in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and served as HR Director in addition to duties as Chief  and Assistant Chief of the AG’s Civil Rights Section.   As Chief and Assistant Chief of the AG’s Civil Rights Section, Stephanie oversaw and managed the OCRC’s litigation and provided legal advice to OCRC Commissioners and staff.  She previously served as a litigation associate with the law firm then known as Crabbe, Brown, Jones, Potts & Schmidt.

Stephanie earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Ashland University where she graduated magna cum laude.  She also graduated with honors and received Order of Curia distinction while earning both a Juris Doctorate and Masters in Business Administration degree at Capital University.  Stephanie serves as a member of the Board of Trustees and Alumni Board for Ashland University and is a certified member of the Society of Professional Human Resources.

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Photo of Mary Turocy, Director of Public Affairs

Mary Turocy, Director of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement

Mary Turocy began at OCRC in August 2015 and is responsible for overseeing legislative affairs, outreach and education, and coordinating Commission events like the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Art, Writing, and Multimedia Contest. Before starting at OCRC, Mary served as Senior Fiscal Analyst for the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, where she specialized in higher education, conducting research and drafting budget bills for the Ohio General Assembly. Mary also served as Senior Policy Analyst for Disability Rights Ohio, where she helped educate and inform policymakers and the public about the issues facing Ohioans with disabilities.

Mary attended Denison University and graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She then attended the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, earning a Master of Sciences (with Distinction) in Gender, Development, and Globalisation.