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Mayor de Blasio Appoints Three New Members to the Board of Correction

October 28, 2014

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced the appointment of three new members to the Board of Correction: Steven M. Safyer, Jennifer Jones Austin, and Derrick D. Cephas. As members of the Board, they will be tasked with establishing and ensuring compliance with minimum standards, regulating conditions of confinement, and correctional health and mental health care in all City correctional facilities. This Board has been the driver of reforms like improving the quality and availability of mental health care for inmates, ensuring non-discriminatory treatment of inmates, and ensuring access to recreation and free practice of religion. It plays a critical regulatory and oversight role over the Department of Correction, and these new leaders will serve to promote safe, secure and humane correctional settings and jails for staff and inmates alike. 

Steven M. Safyer, MD, the President and CEO of Montefiore Health System, the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is a health care executive with a commitment to social justice. Under Dr. Safyer’s direction, Montefiore has become a national leader in health care delivery system reform and public health activism.

Jennifer Jones Austin, currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies and a former co-chair of Mayor de Blasio’s transition team, brings decades of leadership and management experience to the Board. A proven high-level executive and dedicated anti-poverty advocate, Jones Austin has demonstrated effectiveness in strategic planning, organization management, and policy making.

Derrick D. Cephas, a partner in Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP’s Corporate Department and a former member of Mayor de Blasio’s transition team, is a skilled and experienced leader who serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, to which he was appointed in July 2014.

The Board of Correction consists of nine members, three of whom are appointed directly by the Mayor, three by the Mayor in conjunction with the presiding justices of the first and second department, and three by the City Council. Dr. Steven Safyer is a direct mayoral appointment; Jennifer Jones Austin is a joint appointment with Presiding Justices of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First and Second Judicial Departments; and Derrick Cephas is a joint appointment with Presiding Justices of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First and Second Judicial Departments.

About Steven M. Safyer

Steven M. Safyer, MD, is President and Chief Executive Officer of Montefiore Health System. Montefiore, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is a fully integrated delivery system caring for patients from the New York metropolitan region. Montefiore is made up of eight hospitals, a nursing home, a home health agency, and close to 150 ambulatory sites across the Bronx and lower Westchester County, with a staff of 24,000—making it the borough’s largest employer.

Dr. Safyer has been at Montefiore since 1982. He is board certified in Internal Medicine and a Professor of Medicine and Professor of Epidemiology and Population Health at Einstein.

Dr. Safyer is Chairman of the League of Voluntary Hospitals. He is also a board member of the Greater New York Hospital Association, Hospital Association of New York State, the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Council of Teaching Hospitals, Macy’s Foundation, and Chase Regional Advisory Board. He is a former member of the Medicaid Redesign Team. Dr. Safyer earned his MD at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and has a BS from Cornell University.

About Jennifer Jones Austin

Jennifer Jones Austin is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), a prominent New York City social policy and advocacy organization with 200 member human services agencies operating throughout New York City.

Prior to joining FPWA, Jones Austin served as Senior Vice President of United Way of New York City. In this capacity, she led the development and implementation of United Way’s Community Impact “Program to Policy” business model, which resulted in community level and systems improvements in early childhood and elementary education, high school attendance improvement and graduation, financial stability and income support for low-income families, hunger prevention and nutrition, and the reduction of diet-related diseases. Jones Austin previously worked as New York City’s first Family Services Coordinator under Mayor Bloomberg and Deputy Commissioner for the Administration for Children’s Services. Jones Austin served as Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief in the Office of the New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and as a Vice President for LearnNow/Edison Schools Inc.

Jones Austin serves on the City of New York’s Procurement Policy Board, as well as the boards of the National Marrow Donor Program, Citizens’ Committee for Children, the Adelaide Sanford Institute, and the New York Blood Center. She also serves on various City agency advisory councils, including the Early Childhood Education Task Force and the Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force.

Jones Austin earned her law degree from Fordham University School of Law, a Master’s degree in Management and Policy from New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a Bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University. She resides in Brooklyn with her husband and children. 

About Derrick D. Cephas

Derrick D. Cephas is head of Weil’s Financial Institutions Regulatory practice and has broad-based experience in representing commercial banks, thrift institutions, bank holding companies and foreign banking corporations in a wide range of regulatory and transactional matters.

Prior to joining Weil, Cephas served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Amalgamated Bank, a $4.5 billion commercial bank headquartered in New York City. Before this executive role, he was a banking and corporate law partner in the New York office of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. Prior to Cadwalader, Cephas served as the Superintendent of Banks for the State of New York from 1991 to 1994. While Superintendent of Banks, he was nationally recognized for his leadership in several areas of bank regulatory reform.

Cephas has significant experience in public policy matters relating to the banking industry. He is currently a director of the Fresh Air Fund, Empire State Development Corporation, the New York Public Asset Fund; Trustee of the Trevor Day School; and a member of the United Hospital Fund and the Board of Advisors for The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

Cephas earned his A.B. at Harvard University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

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