OPWDD leader to depart in summer

By Published On: March 1st, 2024Categories: Capitol Notes

New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri Neifeld is planning to step down from her post at the end of June, according to a message distributed on Friday to friends and colleagues.

Neifeld, who has led the office since late 2021 after being appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul, wrote that she is looking to scale back her professional life and take a larger role in supporting her family.

“Serving as your Commissioner over the last two and a half years has been a true privilege and a personal and professional high point. It has been my honor to serve amongst the dedicated and committed professionals within this organization and along side you – inspiring self-advocates, family members and loved ones, and provider organizations,” she wrote in her message. “Since my first day in this office, I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support and the gracious way that this community has embraced me and taught me. It will be hard, perhaps impossible, for me to find another professional role that will be as fulfilling and important as this one has been.”

Northern Rivers Family of Services Executive Director Bill Gettman described Neifeld as an incredible public servant who cares deeply about kids and families. “She believed and drove innovation every day and always want to make life better for those in need,” Gettman said.

OPWDD Executive Deputy Commissioner Willow Baer is expected to serve as acting commissioner upon the commissioner’s resignation taking effect.

Reflecting back on her tenure with the agency, Neifeld highlighted the adoption of a strategic plan, which she discussed on The Capitol Pressroom back in 2022. Last summer, the commissioner visited the studio to discuss efforts to improve care for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities.