Rev. Valerie Ackerman Named Executive Director of New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

ALBANY, NY (08/06/2013)(readMedia)-- The Most Reverend Howard J. Hubbard, Bishop of Albany and chairman of the board of directors of New Yorkers for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (NYADP), is pleased to announce the appointment of the Reverend Valerie Mapstone Ackerman, MSW, MDiv., to be the organization's executive director.

"With her experience in program direction and coordination, her familiarity with communities and individuals in crisis, and her passion for social justice, we believe Rev. Ackerman to be an excellent choice for an organization committed to making Capital Region communities safer and its residents more self-sustaining," Bishop Hubbard said.

Rev. Ackerman brings experience in non-violent social change as a pastor and consultant in large and small churches; founder of Peace House in Tulsa, Ok; chaplain and program director for persons suffering from intimate partner violence; advocate for homeless children and youth; and volunteer in dozens of social change organizations.

She is an expert in creative and innovative program development and has hundreds of hours of training in mediation, anti-racism, anti-oppression and restorative justice; and specialized training in Polarities Management, the Carver Model for nonprofit board service, Bowen Family Systems' analysis and intervention, and Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication strategies.

Rev. Ackerman earned her Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and business administration at the University of Pittsburgh, her Masters in Social Work at the University of Michigan and her Masters in Divinity from the Meadville/Lombard Theological School, in Chicago. Among her awards are the Charles Billings Prize for Excellence in Preaching and the John Haynes Holmes Scholarship for Social Justice Ministry.

Rev. Ackerman's recent volunteer service includes: Member, Schenectady Schools Equity and Excellence Committee; Member, Schenectady Rotary; Board Secretary, Community Land Trust, Schenectady; Lemon Law Arbitrator, State of New York; Mediator, Mediation Matters, Schenectady; Board Member, Stockade Association, Schenectady; and Past Board President, Home Furnishings Program, Inc., Schenectady.

NYADP, while continuing to monitor the status of the death penalty in New York State (it is not used but has not been repealed), is now working with murder victims' family members, at-risk youth, and violence prevention and restorative justice efforts. It presents an in-school program called Limits of Loyalty, which Schenectady District Attorney Bob Carney called the best crime prevention program he has seen in his 25 years as a prosecutor. NYADP also manages the Project Safe Neighborhoods Program in both Schenectady and Albany, a U.S. Department of Justice program that assists parolees in their transition back into society and works to reduce gun violence and gang crime in America.

"I'm very excited to be working with NYADP as it continues to address the root causes of violence," Rev. Ackerman said. "With support from the community, foundations and others, we intend to be a force for good throughout the state, and especially with our demonstration programs in Albany, Schenectady, Troy and nearby communities. We hope to bring a restorative justice approach to addressing crime by promoting harm reduction strategies throughout the State of New York."