Executive Team

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Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden
Commissioner

Dr. DaMia Harris-Madden was confirmed as commissioner of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services in May 2024, after serving as acting commissioner since April 2024. As the agency’s commissioner, she plays a pivotal role in shaping OCFS policy to achieve its mission of promoting the safety, permanency and well-being of our children, families and communities.

Dr. Harris-Madden has spent more than 20 years working for community and government organizations serving youth and families. In her previous position, she served for six years as the Westchester County Youth Bureau's executive director, managing the financial and technical resources deployed to hundreds of programs operated by nonprofit, private, and municipal agencies that support children, youth and families in Westchester County. She was responsible for piloting mental health services within after-school settings and partnering with the medical and business sectors to create a myriad of opportunities, including the Youth Med-tech Conference, Invest in Kids Fest, and tobacco prevention initiatives. She also revamped the request for proposal processes and steered a county-wide youth needs assessment.

Before joining the Westchester County Youth Bureau, Dr. Harris-Madden worked for 14 years for the City of Mount Vernon, where she served in multiple positions including executive director of the Mount Vernon Youth Bureau. During her time at Mount Vernon, she became known for her expertise in grant writing and for significantly expanding city services for children and youth. Key achievements include establishing free after-school programs, implementing crime prevention measures, creating numerous job and training opportunities, promoting entrepreneurship, and initiating violence prevention efforts. She previously served as an assistant program director of the Urban League of Westchester County. As a consultant, she conducted program evaluations, provided technical assistance to federal grantees, and served as a grant reviewer for multiple organizations, including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Harris-Madden holds a doctorate in education and executive leadership from St. John Fisher University, master’s degrees in business administration and human resources management from Mercy College, and bachelor’s degree in English and African American studies from the State University of New York at Albany.

Nina Aledort, Ph.D.
Deputy Commissioner, Division of Youth Development and Partnerships for Success

Dr. Nina Aledort is the deputy commissioner of the Division of Youth Development and Partnerships for Success with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. She has been a practitioner and policy maker for more than 25 years with a focus on improving outcomes for youth with significant vulnerabilities, using positive youth development and gender-responsive frameworks and harm reduction. Areas of expertise include LGBTQ, runaway and homeless, trafficked, incarcerated/court-involved youth.

Dr. Aledort focuses on key policy challenges at the intersection of child welfare, juvenile justice, child sex trafficking and runaway and homeless youth, and on disparate impacts. She is a founding co-chair of the NYS Partnership for Youth Justice, has authored several peer-reviewed articles and has presented nationally and internationally. She has an M.S.W. from Hunter College School of Social Work, City University of New York, and a Ph.D. in social welfare from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Tonya Boniface
Deputy Commissioner for Human Resources

Tonya Boniface has been serving as associate commissioner for Human Resources with the New York State Office of Children and Family Services since October 2021. She directs, manages and supervises six comprehensive human resource programs, including the Bureau of Personnel, Bureau of Labor Relations, Bureau of Training and Development, Special Investigations Unit, Agency Emergency Preparedness and Health and Safety, with approximately 150 staff providing services to approximately 3,000 employees.

Ms. Boniface has a bachelor’s degree in education from the College of Saint Rose. She began her career with New York State in 2003 at the Department of Labor, and in November 2006, she began working for OCFS’ personnel office. Ms. Boniface has remained within the Office of Human Resources at OCFS ever since.

Working in the public service for more than 30 years, she was previously in the nonprofit sector, and for the last 15 years, she has shown a dedication to OCFS, as well as the Human Resources team.

Thomas Brooks
Deputy Commissioner of the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Development

Thomas Brooks was appointed deputy commissioner for Strategic Planning and Policy Development in November 2014. He oversees the agency's policy and research, evaluation and performance analytics bureaus. Mr. Brooks manages policy implementation of federal and state laws, including Family First, issues administrative directives to local agencies, guides development of policy and data tools, and serves as liaison to federal agencies.

Mr. Brooks previously served as assistant counsel in the Office of the New York State Governor, where he managed a nine-agency legal portfolio in human services and conducted legislative negotiations. He helped develop, draft and negotiate cyberbullying in schools legislation that became law.

In Washington, D.C., he was a staff member of the U.S. House Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families and a senior policy analyst at the Child Welfare League of America. He began his career as a juvenile court investigator in Connecticut and was director of policy for the Connecticut Commission on Children and legislative director for a New York State Assembly member. He has authored several national articles on children’s policy.

Mr. Brooks received a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in divinity from Yale University and a law degree from Cornell University. He is a member of the New York State Bar.

Linda J. Cohen
Executive Director of the New York State Commission on National and Community Service

Go to Linda Cohen's bio.

Sharon Devine
Deputy Commissioner for Administration

As OCFS’ deputy commissioner for administration since October 2022, Sharon Devine leads the Office of Administration, including the Bureau of Budget Management, Bureau of Financial Operations, Bureau of Contract Management, Office of Agency Performance Management, Bureau of Management Services, Bureau of Capital Projects and Bureau of Information Technology Management.

Ms. Devine has extensive senior leadership experience in state government and most recently served as deputy commissioner for administration for the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).

She also worked as the executive deputy commissioner for the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, overseeing day-to-day operations for a range of the state’s most important programs for low-income residents while also providing leadership, guidance and support.

In addition, Ms. Divine held several pivotal positions within New York State Housing and Community Renewal, including deputy commissioner for administration, president of the Office of Professional Services, director of financial administration and chief of the Budget and Contract Unit.

She holds a master’s degree in public finance from Atlanta University in Georgia and a bachelor’s degree from California University in Pennsylvania.

Gail Geohagen-Pratt
Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Child Welfare and Community Services (CWCS)

Gail Geohagen-Pratt is the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Child Welfare and Community Services (CWCS) effective September 2023. As Deputy Commissioner of CWCS, Ms. Geohagen-Pratt oversees the state’s child welfare programs, including child protective services, foster care and adoption as carried out by 58 local departments of social services and voluntary agencies. She oversees, the operation of six regional offices, and 13 Bureaus within five Offices, including the bureaus that manage the community services of domestic violence prevention, adult services, and Native American services.

Improving outcomes for children and families is of primary concern for Ms. Geohagen-Pratt, especially for communities that are challenged with racial and economic disparities. The desire to help change the Child Welfare system to a system of Child and Family Well-Being is a primary mission for Deputy Commissioner Geohagen-Pratt.

Ms. Geohagen-Pratt brings an extensive background in child welfare to this leadership role. Ms. Geohagen-Pratt joined OCFS in February 2020, serving as an Associate Commissioner for CWCS. Ms. Geohagen-Pratt was part of a dynamic team that implemented key aspects of Family First legislation as well as innovative pilot programs such as the Direct Cash Transfer and Mobile Response Vans.

Prior to joining OCFS, Ms. Geohagen-Pratt gained diverse experience working in community-based organizations and in county government for nearly 20 years. Starting as a case worker, Ms. Geohagen-Pratt worked in various capacities and positions of oversight culminating in the appointment of Commissioner of Albany County Department of Children, Youth and Families.

Ms. Geohagen-Pratt holds a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY Albany.

Julie Hovey
Associate Commissioner, Commission for the Blind

Ms. Hovey has worked at the New York Office of Children Family Services – Commission for the Blind since 2000. As an associate commissioner, she is responsible for overseeing the Commission’s vocational rehabilitation, older blind, Business Enterprise Program, Children’s Services and independent living programs.

Beginning as a vocational rehabilitation trainee and most recently as an associate vocational rehabilitation counselor, Ms. Hovey’s duties over the past 20 years have included managing the Commission’s quality assurance and providing support to the Business Enterprise Program. With a bachelor’s degree in public justice and a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling, she is also a certified rehabilitation counselor.

Ms. Hovey represents OCFS at the Most Integrated Setting Coordinating Council (MISCC), which works to ensure that New Yorkers of all ages with physical, intellectual, developmental and mental disabilities receive care and services in the most integrated settings appropriate to their individual needs.

She enjoys spending time with her son, Jason, who attends Fordham University.

Felicia A.B. Reid
Deputy Commissioner, Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth

Felicia A. B. Reid, Esq., was appointed deputy commissioner of the Division of Juvenile Justice and Opportunities for Youth (DJJOY) in 2020. She oversees the State's juvenile justice system, which serves youth up to age 21, who have either been adjudicated in Family Court or sentenced in Criminal Court and placed in state custody. She is deeply committed to engaging with youth, their families and communities to address historical, institutional and individual impacts of incarceration.

Ms. Reid joined OCFS in 2018 as assistant commissioner/director of the Office of the Ombudsman, the youth advocacy office for juvenile-justice involved youth.

Her prior experience includes serving as majority associate counsel for the New York State Assembly, senior counsel for the New York State Legislative Ethics Commission and an appellate court attorney for the New York State Supreme Court, Third Judicial Department. She graduated from Fordham University with a bachelor’s in comparative literature in 2007 and obtained her law degree from New York Law School in 2012.

In her spare time, Felicia is an avid micro-farmer, gardener and part-time baker, and a film history and podcast aficionado. She also loves a good dance party. Always invited to that party are a dog named Artie, a cranky cat named Squee and her husband.

Emily Steinbach
Chief of Staff

Emily Steinbach was appointed Chief of Staff in the OCFS Executive Office in December 2022. She performs project management for internal and external projects; serves as primary liaison to the Governor’s Office on agency assignments; prepares research and background in advance of special events; oversees the executive office support team; and manages the Agency’s portfolio of boards and appointments.

Ms. Steinbach is essential in representing the Commissioner’s Office on workgroups and often serves as project lead for major initiatives. She holds a master’s in public administration from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, as well as a bachelor’s degree in economics from Smith College.

Ms. Steinbach was a Women & Public Policy fellow at the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society assigned to the New York State Office of Mental Health where she assisted with the New York State Behavioral Health transition to managed care and other behavioral health initiatives.

Following her post-graduate career, Ms. Steinbach was awarded the Excelsior Service Fellowship, was placed at the New York State Department of Health, and stayed after the fellowship ended. She worked in Medicaid on policy design and implementation, running large stakeholder workgroups, project management and more.

Ms. Steinbach has over a decade of experience in healthcare and human services. Before joining OCFS, Ms. Steinbach was a senior contract negotiator with the Capital District Physicians Health Plan (CDPHP) and started her career working at Albany Medical Center (AMC).

Jill Swingruber-Sprotbery
General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Legal Affairs

Jill Swingruber-Sprotbery was appointed as the OCFS General Counsel and Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Legal Affairs in September 2023. Ms. Swingruber-Sprotbery previously spent seven years at OCFS as deputy counsel from 2012 to 2019, when she left to accept a position as a court attorney-referee for the New York State Unified Court System.

In her previous position as OCFS deputy counsel, Ms. Swingruber-Sprotbery oversaw four legal bureaus comprised of about 20 attorneys and provided legal advice in several areas including state and federal litigation, daycare enforcement, Family Court Act Article 3 proceedings, employment law, protected class litigation, and juvenile justice policy.

As General Counsel, Ms. Swingruber-Sprotbery oversees the Division of Legal Affairs, which provides support and legal guidance to every division within OCFS, and she leads the legal division in the development of mission-critical legislation.

Prior to joining state service, Ms. Swingruber-Sprotbery worked as an attorney in the private sector and at Albany Law School where she supervised student attorneys representing litigants in family court and oversaw community and professional education regarding domestic violence and court practice. She also worked as a court attorney, supervising attorney, principal law clerk and court attorney-referee in the New York State Unified Court System with the Supreme Courts, Court of Claims, Appellate Division Third Department and Third Judicial District.

Ms. Swingruber-Sprotbery earned her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Geneseo and her Juris Doctor from Seattle University School of Law. She is the proud mom of two young adults, Emma and Nate; and wife, partner and friend of Kent Sprotbery.

Vanessa Threatte
Executive Director, Council on Children and Families

Go to Vanessa Threatte's bio.

Nora Yates
Deputy Commissioner, Division of Child Care Services

Nora Yates is the deputy commissioner in the Division of Child Care Services and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of New York’s early care and education system supported by the Child Care Development Fund (CCDF), which currently includes more than $2 billion in federal funding. The division also oversees all federal training requirements for early childhood providers supported by CCDF, provider health and safety and quality compliance, state licensing and regulations and the child care assistance program to support families accessing care, and regularly collaborates with a wide variety stakeholders on key priorities related to children and families.

Previously, Ms. Yates served as the director of the Center for Community Health at the New York State Department of Health where she oversaw more than $2 billion in state and local funding that supported key public health programs, including chronic disease prevention, communicable disease control, family health and nutrition.

During the COVID-19 pandemic response, she led the creation and stand up of the state Contact Tracing Initiative, the largest contact tracing program in the country, and also directed the COVID-19 testing sites and testing initiatives. Before joining the Department of Health, Ms. Yates served as the Governor’s assistant secretary for human services and the director of the Community, Opportunity, Reinvestment (CORe) Initiative, where she worked to align state and local agencies on a common framework to examine key issues in distressed communities. Ms. Yates joined the State as part of the inaugural class of Empire Fellows, one of nine individuals selected to serve in policy-level positions throughout Executive agencies.

Before joining the state, Ms. Yates served as the executive director of the Pride Center of the Capital Region and worked at the Empire State Pride Agenda as field director leading New York’s marriage equality effort. She earned bachelor’s and master’s of arts degrees at the State University of New York at Albany, a master’s in public administration from the Sage Graduate School and a master’s in women’s studies and public policy from the University at Albany.