New Phase Opens at Annual Meeting

[NYCHS Shield]

[Leasa McLeish]
NYCHS outgoing vice president, DOC Warden Gerard O'Gara, standing center, presides at the annual meeting in the NYC DOC headquarters main conference room. NYCHS treasurer, DOC Assistant Commissioner Leasa McLeish, right, offers slate of nominees for election.

New phase's facets

A new phrase with different facets opened for the New York Correction History Society at the annual meeting held Jan. 22, 2001, in the NYC DOC Headquarters main conference room.

One facet was a change in the top leadership with the election of William J. Fraser as board chairman, Alan J. Croce as president, Brian Fischer as vice present, and Ronald G. Spike as executive committee member at-large.

They are, respectively, NYC DOC Commissioner, chairman of the State Commission of Correction, NYS DOCS Regional Supervising Superintendent for the NYC area, and president of the NYS Sheriffs Association.

Holding a copy of the fourth issue of the NYCHS newsletter, The Key, NYC DOC Commissioner William J. Fraser addresses the annual meeting after his election as trustees board chairman. Seated to his immediate right at the table are DOC Chief of Dept. Robert N. Davoren and First Deputy Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan.

The outgoing officers, Bernard B. Kerik as board chairman, Michael P. Jacobson as president, and Gerard O’Gara as vice president, remain as board members.

The meeting also served as an opportunity to elect additional members to the board of trustees: Robert N. Davoren, Sandra Lewis Smith and Hugh O’Rourke. They are, respectively, Chief of Dept. and the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information, both NYC DOC, and Westchester Community College police/correction curriculum chair.

Another facet of the new phase for NYCHS is its moving away from the informal ad hoc operating style of its early organizing activities. The notice announcing the meeting noted NYCHS had adopted its constitution and bylaws 17 months ago "with the understanding there would be an initial grace period allowing wide flexibility in applying those governing guidelines.

State Commission of Correction chairman Alan J. Croce, seated left, speaks at the annual meeting after his election as NYCHS president.

"That start-up phase is now drawing to a close. The constitution’s detailed provisions will apply for the next annual meeting."

Still another facet of NYCHS’ new phase is its positioning to step up outreach to correctional agencies and organizations in the state’s 57 counties outside New York City. Both SCOC chairman Croce and NYS Sheriffs Association president Spike, in accepting nomination as NYCHS officers, indicated interest in such outreach.

Another initiative introduced at the meeting was a proposal the board consider starting an advisory council to automatically include future former board members.

Nomination, Acclamation, Remarks

Outgoing vice president, DOC Warden Gerard O'Gara, presided at the meeting. The outgoing board chairman and president, respectively Bernard B. Kerik, now NYPD Commissioner, and former DOC Commissioner Michael P. Jacobson, now a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, were unable to attend.

Warden O'Gara noted that the Regents charter requires the society to hold an annual meeting and that the gathering provided an opportunity to fill officer vacancies and to make additions on the board.

DOCS Metro Region Supervising Superintendent Brian Fisher speaks after election as NYCHS vice president. Listening to his left is SCOC chairman Alan J. Croce and, to Fischer's right, fellow DOCS Superintendent Brant Kehn, NYCHS executive committee member at-large, and Westchester Community College Prof. Hugh O'Rourke, new NYCHS trustee.

NYCHS treasurer Leasa Mcleish, DOC Assistant Commissioner for Project Management, was recognized by the meeting chairperson for the purpose of placing the slate of seven names in nomination. She did.

The nominations were seconded by DOC director of historical services Thomas McCarthy who as general secretary cast the single necessary vote to signify uncontested acclamation. He expressed appreciation to former Correction Commissioners Jacobson and Kerik for their continuing support of NYCHS. He thanked the new chairman Fraser for his NYCHS support both as Chief of Department and as new Commissioner, and likewise thanked First Deputy Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan for his NYCHS support in that role and during the months he served as Acting Commissioner. The general secretary noted the ad hoc approach of the society early organizing effort was ending. He asked the board to consider for later action a proposal to establish an Advisory Council to include future former board members and others.

DOC Commissioner William J. Fraser, left, and First Deputy Commissioner Gary M. Lanigan, right, listen to DOC Chief of Dept. Robert N. Davoren, center, address the annual meeting after his election as NYCHS trustee.

Warden O'Gara invited the newly elected officers to speak.

The new chairman, Commissioner Fraser, expressed the hope that New York correction careerists would one day have a museum devoted to their profession and its history as do those serving in police, fire and other fields.

The new president, SCOC chairman Croce, spoke about his oversight agency working with all correction departments throughout the state, noting particularly many of the counties having historic jails dating back two centuries.

The new vice president, DOCS Supervising Superintendent Fischer, who also is superintendent of historic Sing Sing prison, remarked how history is about people as well as institutions. On that point, he took the occasion to call attention to the upcoming retirement of the DOCS colleague seated next to him, NYCHS executive committee member-at-large Brant Kehn, superintendent of the Fulton Correctional Facility in the Bronx. Fischer cited Kehn's research and writing about correction history during 36 years of DOCS service, including 20 at Sing Sing. The three dozen persons attending the annual meeting saluted Kehn with a rousing round of applause.

Part II of this report features more annual meeting photos and 2 articles from the The Key issue distributed at the gathering. A printable black and white copy of the full issue can be downloaded in PDF format: 175K. Click icon for a free copy of Acrobat (PDF) Reader.

DOC Chief of Department Davoren, a new member of the trustee board, spoke of his long interest in history, particularly that of the Buffalo Soldiers. He pointed out that all three New York State regiments of U.S. Colored Troops -- African Americans who fought for the Union during the Civil War -- mustered in and trained on Rikers and Hart Islands, now part of DOC.

After the brief but important meeting, many of the participants lingered in the conference room to chat informally, getting acquainted or renewing acquaintances. Those attending as or for NYCHS officers, in addition to the aforementioned, were NYCHS curator Deborah Kurtz and NYCHS trustee Alan Vengersky, respectively a Deputy Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner with DOC; Sarina Roffe representing NYCHS trustee Tino Hernandez, NYC Juvenile Justice Commissioner, and Peter Benjaminson representing NYCHS trustee Norman Seabrook, Correction Officers' Benevolent Association president.

Other participants included Anthony R. Smith, president of the Horticultural Society of New York and a charter member of NYCHS, and Thomas Casey, IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent and treasurer of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Foundation. Also attending from NYC DOC were Deputy Commissioners John Antonelli, Roger Jefferies, and Elmer Torro; Assistant Commissioner Roger Parris, Deputy General Counsel Linda LaGreca, Deputy Wardens in Command Richard Palmer and Richard Filippazzo, Assistant Deputy Wardens Darryl Harrison, the Commissioner's Office Chief of Staff, and Eric Perry; Captains Cathyreen Bailey and Calvin Patterson.

Go to NYCHS Annual Meeting -- Part II
(Additional photos, related links, two articles from The Key newsletter distributed at the meeting.)

Photo credit: John Mohan, DOC media services director
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