The Lead

Shapiro’s nominees to public safety roles include the first woman to head the state Department of Corrections

By: - January 17, 2023 3:17 pm
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg for the Capital-Star).

Gov. Josh Shapiro has named five nominees to lead Pennsylvania public safety agencies, including the first woman to lead the state Department of Corrections.

Shapiro nominated Laurel Harry, a 24-year veteran of the state prison system, to serve as secretary of corrections. 

Gov. Josh Shapiro nominated Laurel Harry as secretary of corrections. Photo via Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro’s transition team)

Harry started her career as a drug and alcohol treatment specialist at SCI-Waynesburg, in Greene County, and rose through the ranks to serve as superintendent at SCI-Camp Hill, in Cumberland County, for the past 10 years.

During her career Harry worked at six state correctional institutions, was a member of the Western Region Hostage Negotiation Team, and was recognized as 2019 warden of the year by the Pennsylvania Prison Wardens Association, Shapiro’s transition team said in a statement last week. 

Harry said she would lead the Shapiro administration’s efforts to reduce crime by providing individualized treatment and education to inmates to ensure those who have completed their sentences can successfully return to their communities.

“With over two decades of commonwealth experience in the Department of Corrections, – from managing staff and inmates to overseeing drug and alcohol treatment programs – I know we can address the root causes of crime in Pennsylvania while making our communities safer,” Harry said.

Gov. Josh Shapiro nominated Randy Padfield as director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. Photo via Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro’s transition team)

Randy Padfield, who has 35 years of experience in fire and rescue services, emergency medical services, and special operations, would continue to lead the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, where he was appointed director in 2019.

Padfield has been a responder to numerous disasters in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the country including the scene of the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001, hurricanes, floods and the Surfside, Florida, condominium collapse in 2021 as a member of Pennsylvania’s urban search and rescue team.

Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler would continue to oversee Pennsylvania national guard as adjutant general of military and veterans affairs.

Nominated and confirmed in 2021, Schindler manages a state and federal budget of more than $966 million, and is responsible for command and control of more than 18,000 Army and Air National Guard members, 2,500 state employees, cadets at the Keystone ChallenNGe Academy, and six state-owned veterans homes, according to Shapiro’s transition team.

Acting Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Thomas Cook received Shapiro’s nomination to continue in the role permanently.

Gov. Josh Shapiro nominated Thomas Cook as state fire commissioner. (Photo via Gov.-elect Josh Shapiro’s transition team)

With more than 36 years of experience in emergency services, Cook has an extensive background in public and nonprofit administration at the municipal, county and state levels.

Cook served as administrator for the Pennsylvania State Fire Academy. He also served as assistant chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire. He attended the Allegheny County, state and national fire academies and serves as a state fire instructor and adjunct professor at Point Park University teaching public administration.

Shapiro nominated Maj. Christopher Paris, who enlisted in the Pennsylvania State Police in 1999, state police commissioner.

Paris, who has a law degree from Temple University Beasley School of Law, has served as a trooper in several parts of the state and as a station and troop commander, and as deputy commissioner of administration and professional responsibility.

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Peter Hall
Peter Hall

Peter Hall has been a journalist in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 20 years, most recently covering criminal justice and legal affairs for The Morning Call in Allentown. His career at local newspapers and legal business publications has taken him from school board meetings to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and many points of interest between. He earned a degree in journalism from Susquehanna University.