Governor Hochul Nominates Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden to Serve as Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services

Date:

Governor Nominates Nonprofit and Community Leader with Decades of Experience Supporting Youth and Families

Dr. Harris-Madden Currently Serves as Executive Director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the nomination of Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden to serve as Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Dr. Harris-Madden is an experienced nonprofit and community leader who currently serves as Executive Director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau and will take office as Acting Commissioner on April 8.

“I am incredibly humbled and deeply grateful to be nominated by Governor Hochul as the next Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services—an immense agency that touches the lives of nearly every New Yorker.” Dr Harris-Madden shared with Black Westchester. “It will be both an honor and a privilege to serve in this capacity, wholeheartedly embracing the opportunities to create a meaningful impact that enhances the overall well-being of all New Yorkers. Twenty-three years ago, I made the life-changing decision to leave the private sector and dedicate myself to working on behalf of the most vulnerable: children and youth. Looking back, it was undoubtedly the best decision I could have made. My upbringing and experiences in the City of Mount Vernon inspired me personally and professionally, shaping my commitment to making a difference. I found the funding and resources to create many programs based on what I would have liked as a child growing up in Mount Vernon, what the youth advised me of as their wants and needs, and the research that pointed to promising practices that would make children, youth, and families thrive.”

Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden has spent 20 years working at the intersections of government, education, business, and the non-profit sectors. She currently works as Executive Director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau, within the County Executive’s office. She is currently responsible for managing a department that deploys financial and technical resources to hundreds of programs and contractors operated by nonprofit, private, and municipal agencies that support children, youth, and families within the 46 communities of Westchester County.

Immediately upon taking a key position within the County Executive’s cabinet in 2018, she rebuilt a floundering youth department, increased the number of grassroots organizations funded in the communities of high need, and reorganized how non-profit organizations competed for funding. Dr. Madden-Harris utilized her business acumen and experience to manage a multi-million-dollar annual budget and deploy financial and technical resources to more than 200 programs, including gun violence prevention, mentoring, employment and training, leadership and afterschool offerings, and other supports.

Before joining the Westchester County Youth Bureau, Dr. Harris-Madden served in four mayoral cabinets in the City of Mount Vernon, where she expanded the city’s services significantly. She has served as a federal and local grant reviewer and a New York State 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program evaluator.

Several local elected officials sang Dr. Harris-Madden’s praises at the news of her new appointment.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden is not only a great leader but also a cherished friend. Her tireless dedication to improving the lives of children and families in Westchester County has been nothing short of remarkable. From her many years of public service in Mount Vernon to her role as Executive Director of the Westchester County Youth Bureau, Dr. Harris-Madden has consistently demonstrated her strong commitment to New York’s children and families. Her impact is felt far beyond the confines of her office, leaving a lasting footprint of positive change. We will be fortunate to have her at the helm, steering our efforts toward a brighter future for New York’s Children and Families.”

State Senator Jamaal T. Bailey said, “Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden has dedicated her entire career to uplifting young people and families. She brings a wealth of experience in human services, a forward-looking vision, and unwavering dedication that will be critical in meeting the urgent needs of vulnerable youth and families across the state and strengthening the safety net for countless New Yorkers who depend on it. Dr. Harris-Madden’s dedicated leadership and years of service as Executive Director of the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau, expanding services and supporting Westchester families, has been transformative for the communities I represent. I look forward to working alongside Commissioner Harris-Madden in this new role and the Office of Children and Family Services to support their vital work.”

State Senator Shelley B. Mayer said, “I congratulate Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden on her nomination to serve as Commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. Dr. Harris-Madden will bring a great wealth of knowledge and experience to this important position from her many years of dedicated service to Westchester County’s youth, families, organizations, and nonprofits. I’ve worked closely with her and have seen first-hand her passion, competence, and commitment to our communities. I’m thrilled by her appointment and have total confidence in her leadership ability.”

County Executive George Latimer said, “Westchester County’s loss is New York State’s gain as Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden steps into this new phase in her career of service. Her decades of experience in nonprofit and community leadership, exemplified by her tenure at the Westchester County Youth Bureau, make her the perfect fit for this critical position helping New Yorkers. Westchester County congratulates her on this well-deserved nomination and we look forward to seeing her dedication and expertise benefit families across the state.”

Youth Shelter Program of Westchester Inc. Executive Director Joanne Dunn said, “Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden encapsulates the essence of being a champion of change for youth development. She is a fierce advocate for the needs and rights of young people and creates a supportive and inclusive environment where they can thrive. Her personal and professional experiences make her the right person to move OCFS to the next level.”

Dr. Harris-Madden has earned numerous degrees, including a B.A. in English and African American studies, a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), a Master of Science in Human Resource Management (M.S. H.R.M.), and a Doctorate in Education and Executive Leadership (Ed. D.). She is a longtime community leader who has served on several professional boards, including the Westchester-Putnam County Workforce Development Board, the New York State Youth Justice Institute-Policy Equity Academy, the New York State Youth Justice Team (PYJ), the Westchester Medical Center Equity Taskforce, the Gender Responsive Interventions and Partnership Court of Ninth Judicial District (co-chair), and the New York State Education Department’s Girls of Color Workgroup.

“Throughout my journey, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with remarkable individuals—those who lead with compassion and have helped me expand government support and investments to improve the health, well-being, and productivity of Westchester County. My tenure in Westchester County government has also been nothing short of amazing- preparing me for this next level. Now, as I step into this role for New York State, I am dedicated to creating opportunities that instill hope in all young people, providing tailored services that propel them forward. I am equally committed to assisting parents and caregivers as they navigate complex systems, fostering trust and genuine partnership within our community. My approach is rooted in leveraging existing partnerships, fostering collaboration across systems, and delivering deliberate, well-led, and efficient services. Together, we can build a stronger, more compassionate New York—one where every child’s potential is nurtured, and families thrive.”

Numerous organizations have recognized her over the past 20 years, including 914Inc’s 2022 Women in Business. She also appears in the chapter honoring Black Women of Distinction in Westchester in our book, “Black Westchester Celebrates Black Women of Westchester.” She is a proud wife and mother to three daughters. Dr. Madden-Harris belongs to several professional, civic, and family-oriented organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Jack and Jill American—Mid Hudson Valley Chapter.

We salute Dr. Damia Hadden-Harris, a true Black Westchester Legend, and we proudly spotlight her for Women’s History Month!

AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

2 COMMENTS

  1. If memory serves me right, the Office of Children & Family Services “over-sees” the institution of Family/Divorce Court & the 3rd party agencies like the Children Protective Services or Administration of Children Services, and others.
    All of whom are associated with their dysfunction and abuses being committed against those who their supposed to act in their “best interest”.
    Irreparable harm to rhe family unit, damaged children, and male suicides are ong the long list of atrocities.
    It will take more than a political move of having a Black woman as commissioner is needed to rectify the institution

    • While I agree with you, I can say Dr. Damia Madden-Harris is the perfect person for the job, as her resume and body of work can testify, She will make a major difference!

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