In a remarkable career, Jennifer Lopez has gone from being a probation officer in Chester County to leading Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children as the CEO. Her outstanding work with prison inmates and dedication to social services have earned her accolades, and now she has achieved yet another milestone. Recently appointed by Gov. Josh Shapiro, Lopez will serve as a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, solidifying her position as a prominent figure in the field of criminal justice and social reform.

Jennifer’s appointment to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency signifies a tremendous honor and recognition of her expertise. The commission, responsible for justice planning and policymaking, brings together esteemed professionals from various backgrounds. With her term of service continuing until 2027, Lopez expressed gratitude for the trust placed in her and emphasized her eagerness to collaborate with colleagues on initiatives that further Pennsylvania’s crucial work.

On Thursday, June 1, at the county Justice Center, Lopez was officially sworn in by Common Pleas Judge Ann Marie Wheatcraft, who supervised the county’s Treatment Courts. This ceremony held a special significance for Lopez, as she had previously worked closely with Judge Wheatcraft during her tenure in the county Office of Adult Probation and Pre-Trial Services. The presence of Jennifer’s daughter and granddaughter added an extra touch of pride to the occasion.

Lopez’s commitment to implementing trauma-informed initiatives in Chester County earned her high praise. Her efforts led to the creation of the Women’s Reentry Assessment and Programming Initiative (WRAP), which garnered the prestigious Top 25 Program Award at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. WRAP aimed to address the revolving door of incarceration faced by female offenders who had experienced trauma, effectively reducing recidivism rates. The program’s success has made it a model for similar initiatives across the nation.

As CEO of the Friends Association, Lopez played a pivotal role in opening the county’s first Safe Home for women impacted by incarceration. This groundbreaking program based upon the model developed by Susan Burton, provides holistic reentry services to women, allowing them to rebuild critical bonds with their children and secure stable housing following a period of imprisonment. Through her work, Lopez has demonstrated a deep understanding of the multifaceted challenges faced by individuals reintegrating into society after incarceration.

In her new role as a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Lopez will chair the Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee. Established in 2009 in partnership with the state Department of Human Services Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, this committee leads efforts to reduce the number of justice-involved individuals with behavioral health issues, substance use disorders, and intellectual disabilities/developmental disabilities within the justice system. By promoting comprehensive diversion, treatment, and reentry services, the committee aims to bring about meaningful change statewide.

Jennifer Lopez’s appointment to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency is a testament to her exceptional contributions and innovative approach to criminal justice reform. With her extensive experience and dedication to helping those affected by incarceration, she is poised to make a significant impact at the state level. Through her leadership on the Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee, Lopez will continue to spearhead transformative strategies aimed at creating a fairer and more inclusive justice system in Pennsylvania.

By David James, Chief Development Officer