Mayor de Blasio today announced the appointment of Jennifer Jones Austin as Chair of the Board of Correction. The Board provides critical oversight for the City’s jail system, and as Chair of the Board, Jones Austin will serve to promote safe, fair and humane jails for both staff and people in custody.
The Board of Correction is tasked with establishing and ensuring compliance with minimum standards that regulate conditions of confinement, correctional health and mental health care, and sexual violence prevention in all City correctional facilities.
The Board has played a leading role in helping to bring about important initiatives including improved mental health care, enhanced coordination in the delivery of medical care, significant reforms in the use of punitive segregation, and the policy of housing by gender identity. Prior to Jones Austin’s appointment, the role of Board Chair was held by Board Member Jacqueline Sherman, who had been serving as Interim Chair.
“During this unprecedented health crisis, we must do everything possible to protect the health and wellbeing of those in our jails,” said Mayor de Blasio. “With her tested leadership skills, it is clear that Jennifer will help ensure we deliver on that mission. I also want to extend a sincere thank you to Board Member Jacqueline Sherman, who stepped in during a period of transition as the Interim Chair to ensure that the Board’s critical oversight function continued unabated.”
Ms. Jones Austin is currently the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), a prominent social policy and advocacy organization with 200 member human services agencies operating throughout New York City.
Prior to joining FPWA, Ms. Jones Austin served as Senior Vice President of United Way of New York City, the City of New York’s first Family Services Coordinator appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Commissioner for the City’s Administration for Children’s Services, Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief for New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and Vice President for LearnNow/Edison Schools Inc.
Throughout her career, Jennifer Jones Austin has chaired and served on several influential boards, commissions and task forces. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed her as Co-Chair of his mayoral transition in 2013, a leader of his UPK Workgroup that designed the full day Universal Pre-Kindergarten Initiative, and a leader of his Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force.
She was the Co-Chair of the NYC Department of Education Capacity Framework Advisory, and a member of the PlaNYC Advisory Board. She served as Chair of the City of New York Procurement Policy Board and Co-Chair of the New York State Supermarket Commission.
Presently, Ms. Jones Austin serves as Board Member of the National Action Network, Board Member of the NYC Board of Correction, and Advisory Board Member of the Feerick Center for Social Justice. Previous Board service includes the National Marrow Donor Program, New York Blood Center, the New York Blood Center, the Fund for Public Housing, New York Women’s Bar Association Foundation, Children for Children, Citizens’ Committee for Children, the Icla da Silva Foundation, and the Bethany Baptist Church Child Development Center.
Ms. Jones Austin earned her law degree from Fordham University School.