Denise O’Donnell has been confirmed by the Senate as director of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, which provides aid to state and local criminal justice programs. O’Donnell replaces James Burch, who has been acting director during the Obama administration. O’Donnell, a Buffalo native, was recommended by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and most recently served as New York State’s top criminal justice administrator, overseeing 11 homeland security and criminal justice agencies.
O’Donnell quit her position working for New York Gov. David Paterson in February 2010 after Paterson and state troopers were in contact with the alleged victim of a domestic violence case involving a top Paterson adviser. O’Donnell said at the time that the actions of Paterson and the State Police were “unacceptable regardless of their intent.” Sen. Schumer noted that O’Donnell also has worked as a lawyer, prosecutor, executive level manager, policy maker, and professional social worker. She is a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York, and former Vice-Chair of the U.S. Attorney General's Advisory Committee.