16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Kevin Ryan, LLM, JD
Kevin Ryan, Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, has been a tireless advocate on behalf of children and families throughout his career. He worked hand-in-hand with Governor Jon Corzine to create the new Department of Children and Families in 2006—a Department of 6,600 employees fully devoted to serving and safeguarding the most vulnerable children and families in the State, striving to fulfill the Governor's commitment to turn around New Jersey's child welfare system with an aggressive and focused reform plan. Under Commissioner Ryan's leadership, the revitalized Department of Children and Families has realized incredible progress in improving services, reducing caseloads, increasing adoption rates, and creating a forward thinking plan for ongoing progress.
Commissioner Ryan also served as New Jersey's first Child Advocate, charged to oversee the creation and management of the independent Office of the Child Advocate, established by statute. The task of the Office is to monitor public agencies that serve children at risk of abuse and neglect and to use various strategies to advance the health, safety, and well-being of children, such as practice and policy innovation, investigation, public hearings, and litigation. His background also includes serving as Deputy Chief of Management and Operations, Office of the Governor of New Jersey; Chief of Staff, New Jersey Department of Human Services; General Counsel and Associate Executive Director, Covenant House, New Jersey; General Counsel, Garden State Coalition for Youth and Family Concerns Inc.; Adjunct Professor of Law, Fordham School of Law and Seton Hall School of Law; and Staff Attorney, Covenant House New York. Recent honors include: Lawyer of the Year, New Jersey State Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division, June 2001; Wasserstein Fellow, Harvard University Law School, September 2000, for legal contributions in the public interest; and Youth Advocate of the Year, National Network for Youth, Washington, D.C., January 2000.