Long Island, NY - November 9, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that he has appointed Roberto Velez as Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services, where Velez will oversee the regulation of more than 21,000 child care providers that care for up to 708,000 children in New York State. Velez is the former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation and Chief Judge to the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, and is an expert in executive management, administrative law, criminal justice matters, compliance and not for profit law.
"Roberto Velez has had a storied career in both the public and private sectors, and I am proud to have him join our team as Commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services," Governor Cuomo said. "Roberto is well regarded among his peers, and his leadership and experience will be an important asset for this Office and the many New Yorkers it supports. I look forward to having Roberto begin his State service and join us in moving New York State forward."
Roberto Velez most recently served as Vice President for Corporate Compliance and Counsel for Acacia Network, Inc., a Latino-based network of agencies offering health, housing and economic development services to New York City residents. In that capacity, he is responsible for overseeing all contract, real estate, employment, and litigations matters related to the organization. In addition, Velez serves as a key legal advisor to the Acacia Board of Directors.
In January 2002, Mayor Bloomberg appointed Velez to serve as Chief Judge to the New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings, where he supervised administrative law judges and oversaw a budget of $3.8 million.
In 2008, Velez was appointed to serve as Chair of the Environmental Control Board, which is the City's health and safety court. Roberto supervised 200 hearing officers in five borough offices. These administrative law judges presided over the 700,000 violations. He also administered an annual budget of $17 million.
Prior to serving at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings and the Environmental Control Board, Velez was a board member of the Puerto Rican Bar Association and held multiple positions at the New York City Department of Probation. Velez was first the Department of Probation's Chief of Staff, where he assisted the commissioner with the oversight of agency operations, including a staff of 1,600 employees and an annual budget of over $70 million dollars; then, Velez served as general counsel, where he supervised criminal and civil litigations; and subsequently, as commissioner of the Department of Probation, where Velez supervised approximately 90,000 adult probationers and 25,000 juveniles annually. During his tenure at the Department of Probation, Velez promoted public safety by initiating Operation Neighborhood Shield, a crime reduction, neighborhood-building initiative that targeted high crime precincts.
New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales said, "I commend Governor Cuomo on his selection of Roberto Velez to lead the Office of Children and Family Services. I know Roberto to be an accomplished public servant who brings an impressive resume to this position. I congratulate him on this well-deserved appointment that will undoubtedly benefit the children and families of our State."
Milagros Baez-O'Toole, Chair of Acacia Network, Inc., said, "Roberto Velez is a dedicated professional with countless years of service in the public and private sectors. He has displayed leadership and a true commitment to helping and offering supportive services to families and children. I congratulate Governor Cuomo for selecting a dedicated public servant."
Hector Diaz, President of Acacia Network, Inc., said, "I have known Roberto Velez for many years. Roberto is a consummate professional who has deep experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. He will use that experience to serve the children and families of New York State with expertise, compassion and excellent judgment. Roberto also has the highest integrity. As a person who struggled growing up in the South Bronx, and went on to achieve all that he has, Roberto understands the issues facing children and families in New York from a personal and professional perspective. I can think of no better choice for Commissioner of the Office of Children and Families than Roberto Velez. Governor Cuomo has made an excellent choice."
Anthony Crowell, Dean and President of New York Law School, said, "Roberto Velez is an exceptional public servant who brings a wealth of experience and perspective from his executive roles in government and non-profit social services administration, as well as the practice of law. During my many years of working with him in the Giuliani and Bloomberg Administrations, he continuously demonstrated great leadership—fair, principled and compassionate—with the singular goal to do right by the people he served. I know he will bring that same spirit and dedication to his new position."
Tino Hernandez, CEO of Samaritan Village, said, "Given Mr. Velez's vast experience serving at the City Departments of Probation and Juvenile Justice, and most recently at Acacia, I can't think of a more qualified colleague to lead this important agency."