Mayor Kenney today appointed Vanessa Garrett Harley, Esq. as Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
Mayor Kenney also announced two other key appointments in the Office of Criminal Justice and Public Safety: Julie Wertheimer as Senior Director of Criminal Justice Reform Strategies and Programs and Theron Pride as Senior Director of Violence Prevention Strategies and Programs.
The Office of Criminal Justice and Public Safety advances the Administration’s goals for violence prevention, criminal justice reform, and service to formerly incarcerated individuals by developing partnerships between City agencies, criminal justice partners, nonprofit organizations, and community members. The Office also supports and coordinates various operating departments including Police, Fire, Prisons and Licenses and Inspections.
Vanessa Garrett Harley is currently Chair of the Social Services Group in the Philadelphia Law Department. In that capacity, she manages the Child Welfare Unit, the Health and Adult Services Unit and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Unit. Garrett Harley and her staff provide legal advice and representation to all of the City’s social services agencies and HIPAA covered entities.
“For the past 15 years, Vanessa Garrett Harley has been invaluable working in the trenches of some of the most difficult and crucial areas of our justice system – those devoted to ensuring the welfare of children,” said Mayor Kenney. “After a thorough search, I’m certain there is no person better suited to the task of continuing and building upon the criminal justice reforms and violence prevention initiatives pursued by my Administration, City Council and our partners on the City’s Criminal Justice Advisory Board.”
“The time is ripe for change in the criminal justice system and I believe Philadelphia is in a great position to lead this charge,” said Garrett Harley. “I am humbled and honored to have been given this opportunity to work with our system partners to effectuate positive and necessary change while also maintaining public safety.”
Garrett Harley joined the Child Welfare Unit in 2002 and was promoted to Divisional Deputy City Solicitor in 2003 and ultimately to Chair in 2007. Prior to working in the Child Welfare Unit, she was a Deputy City Solicitor in the Major Trials Division of the Claims Unit of the Law Department. In October 2010, Garrett Harley assumed the position of Deputy Commissioner of the Children and Youth Division in the Department of Human Services, responsible for child welfare services in the hotline, intake, ongoing services and adoption divisions. Ultimately in August 2014, Garrett Harley was appointed as the Commissioner of DHS. A lifelong Philadelphian, Garrett Harley is a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with a dual major in Government (Public Administration) and Sociology; she received her Juris Doctorate from Temple University School of Law.
Garrett Harley succeeds Judge Benjamin Lerner as Deputy Managing Director for Criminal Justice and Public Safety. Lerner recently returned to the courts as a senior judge. Garrett Harley begins her new position on June 4.
Julie Wertheimer was most recently Chief of Staff for Criminal Justice for the City of Philadelphia, reporting to the Deputy Managing Director. As Chief of Staff, she worked with the Deputy Managing Director, Managing Director, and departments and agencies in a variety of roles, from program manager and advisor to managing strategic initiatives across the portfolio, particularly the City’s Safety and Justice Challenge grant from the MacArthur Foundation.
“Julie Wertheimer’s promotion acknowledges the valuable contributions she has made over the last few years,” said First Deputy Managing Director Brian Abernathy. “She has long been our go-to person for a wide range of criminal justice activities and reforms, including the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge initiatives such as Police Assisted Diversion. Philadelphia has seen its prison population drop in the past three years by 35 percent, and while many people played a role in that, Julie can rightly be credited for that achievement.”
In her ten years with the City of Philadelphia, Wertheimer has also directed key initiatives such as the City’s participation in the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention. Prior to her work in public safety and criminal justice, she served as Assistant Budget Director for the City of Philadelphia. Wertheimer holds an MPA from the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.
“This city is at a crucial turning point in how we approach justice, and while we have made progress, there is still significant work to do,” said Wertheimer. “I look forward to continuing to work with all of our criminal justice partners and lifting up the voices of those communities affected by crime and incarceration as we create reforms to increase safety and fairness in Philadelphia.”
Theron Pride previously served as a senior policy advisor and special counsel on justice initiatives in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. In this role, he led the planning to develop a coordinated, multi-agency strategy to reduce crime in high-crime areas.
“It is with great pride that we welcome Theron Pride to Philadelphia,” said Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis. “He brings an astounding resume in criminal justice and violence prevention at the federal, state and local levels. I am confident he will carry on and expand the Office’s important mandates: to ensure violence prevention and reduction is embedded into the outreach of City departments, to proactively engage any youth and high impact or at-risk communities, and to take a long-term approach to violence reduction for all Philadelphians.”
Prior to his work in New York City, Pride served in the Obama administration as chief of staff and senior counsel in the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice. During his tenure, he led several large-scale initiatives focused on reducing youth violence, promoting opportunities for justice-involved youth and reforming the juvenile and criminal justice systems, including the National Forum of Youth Violence Prevention in which the City of Philadelphia participated.
“I’m incredibly honored to serve alongside an amazing team of dedicated professionals,” said Pride. “I believe wholeheartedly that violence is preventable so I look forward to engaging in this critical work, in partnership with so many committed and talented individuals across the City of Philadelphia.”
Theron Pride has also worked as a social worker in several clinical care settings, including the school-based mental health program at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Family Support Services Programs at the Yale Child Study Center. Pride received his M.S.W. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. He and his wife are very excited to call Philadelphia home. Pride’s first day at OVP is June 4.
Headshots of the Garrett Harley, Wertheimer and Pride available on request.