New Leaders Named for State Office of Victim Services and Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence
Albany, NY (September 16, 2013)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced two new administration appointments, naming Elizabeth Cronin as director of the state Office of Victim Services (OVS) and Gwen Wright as executive director of the state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV).
“New York has long been a leader on the issue of crime victims’ rights, becoming one of the first states to create a crime victims’ compensation board and the only state in the nation to have an executive-level agency that has the sole mission of fighting and preventing domestic violence,” Governor Cuomo said. “I look forward to continuing the significant progress we have made to enhance protections for crime victims, and know that Ms. Cronin and Ms. Wright will play important roles in those efforts.”
Until recently, Ms. Cronin served as the director of the Office of Legal Affairs for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City. She was responsible for the operation of the Office of Staff Counsel and Staff Attorneys’ Office for more than 13 years, overseeing the legal work produced by both offices and the day-to-day administration of the Office of Legal Affairs.
During her time with the Circuit, Ms. Cronin worked with judges to establish a unique program to handle a burgeoning number of immigration case filings. The creation of a non-argument calendar successfully cleared the court’s backlog of more than 5,000 immigration appeals.
Prior to her experience with the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ms. Cronin served as an adjunct professor at Pace University and has extensive experience as a practicing attorney, including serving 12 years in the Westchester District Attorney’s Office as an assistant district attorney and later being promoted to deputy bureau chief, and as a law clerk for the Connecticut Superior Court Judicial Department. She is a published author on subjects ranging from immigration law and domestic violence to evidence and the Vienna Convention. Ms. Cronin received her bachelor’s degree from Fairfield University and her law degree from Pace University School of Law.
Ms. Wright has been with OPDV for 20 years, most recently serving as acting executive director and director of human services and prevention. During her two decades with the agency, she also supervised training programs and policy development in the areas of child welfare, social services and public benefits, substance abuse and mental health, health care and criminal justice.
Also during her tenure at OPDV, Ms. Wright was integral in the development and implementation of the state’s Domestic Violence and the Workplace policy. The policy, required for all state agencies, is designed to enhance workplace safety for victims of domestic violence and their co-workers. Under the policy, employers must train employees on domestic violence awareness and prevention; develop personnel procedures that respond to the needs of domestic violence victims; and create workplace safety plans and measures to hold accountable those who may use municipal resources to commit acts of domestic violence.
Before joining state service, Ms. Wright held numerous positions in the domestic violence field, including serving as executive director of the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NYSCADV), a statewide advocacy group.
Ms. Wright attended the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is active in community efforts that support equality for lesbians and gays and racial justice, including serving as past president of the boards of the Pride Center of the Capital Region; In Our Own Voices, an Albany-based advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color; and A Call to Men, a national domestic and sexual violence prevention organization providing training and education for men, boys and communities.
The Office of Victim Services (www.ovs.ny.gov) provides a safety net for innocent crime victims who have no other place to turn for help, providing direct compensation for counseling, advocacy services and medical care, for example, at no cost to taxpayers. The agency’s operations are funded by fines, fees and surcharges paid by certain offenders after conviction in state or federal court.
The Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (www.opdv.ny.gov) is tasked with improving the response of state and local communities to domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive staff on policy and legislation; conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs; and trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement and health care.